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Traing Journal Awards

BY Lucy Standing 09 Jan 2015 11:10

In November, Steve Whiddett and I attended the Training Journal awards dinner on behalf of neuTrain which had been selected as a finalist in the 'not for profit' awards category.  We didn't win the overall prize, but being on the list of finalists was great.  We also won 'most glamourous table' which was a far more suprising win on the night!  We met Annie Clark who works in L&D at the Childrens Society which was great as she told us how much she liked using neuTrain when designing materials for internal course modules - exactly the sort of person we are trying to help with neuTrain.  A bit of a result if you ask us!


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Award nominationfor excellence in training

BY Lucy Standing 08 Jul 2014 10:27

We were delighted to be nominated for an award by the ABP (Association for Business Psychology).  We were nominated for the excellence in training category for our work in bringing training materials to the wider L&D market.  We share our content for free.  We get close to 1,000 people a month spending on average nearly 4 minutes on the site.  We've had over 400 courses get downloaded.  Working on the basis the average course takes 2 days to design and the average design fee is £1,000 a day, we've collectively saved organisations over £1,500,000.

We earn nothing from this website - it is a free service.  Our intention is to raise the profiles of those trainers who are collaborative and believe in the value of sharing content.  We are often asked 'what is in it for us' and the answer is the satisfaction we get from meeting great people, the pride we feel when organisations thank us for sharing the content and the reward of feeling we are doing something constructive and helpful.  If we enable just a few more companies to remove the barrier of investing in the training and development of their staff then we've done what we want to achieve.  Thank you ABP for the recognition of our efforts.

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Annual Meeting

BY Lucy Standing 05 Nov 2013 11:11

We had a great annual meeting a couple of weeks ago.  We had Richard Wootten from the BILD, Martin Baker  from the Charity Learning Consortium and Sarah Hazell (PR for the L&D world) come and chat to our small group of friendly and helpful experts in the L&D space.   The aim of our get together is like allk networks partly to share ideas and thoughts, but for a small organisation like neutrain, its really also a space to help us think about and develop ideas for how our site works for our community.  Here were two of the main ideas which the group contributed which we will now be working to build into the site.
 
1. Mary Brooks is passionate about her charity work and would like to have a way of ensuring the funds from any sales of her work go to her elected charities.  Manually, we are going to ensure this happens as of now.  Technologically, we are going to be adding in this feature so that those looking at Mary's training materials will see that if they choose to download content the money will go to her chosen charity.    
 
2. Lisa Boughey who is the L&D manager at Muller foods said she liked the site - and would look to load up content, but thinks corporates would be more willing to do this if they could download content in return - a credit system if you like.  I raised this with the group and in all honesty, because of the expense this will mean for the site, was slightly hoping they might dislike the idea!  However, collective wisdom came through - the whole group thought this would be a great idea as it would encourage more people to share content.  So this is another development which is currently underway. 
 
Thank you everyone who came: familiar faces from last year and some new ones too . I appreciate you all helping to shape the future of this site: more evidence of the power of teams.                                                                                                                                                    

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Blog Post

BY ANON 14 Jul 2013 10:35

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How do you choose a website developer?

BY Lucy Standing 11 May 2013 06:25

Good grief, HOW MANY?  There are sooooo many people out there who build websites and the field is UNREGULATED.  There are companies out there with no qualifications all telling you they can develop what you are asking - choosing a web developer is a minefield. 

I started off by calling a couple I'd seen on google.  They asked me to send over a site brief.  As this was going to be the document that would be used as a contract I wanted to get it right.  My husband has a friend who was head of IT for a large Oil company, so I trusted his advice. He told me the ballpark figure for the site build and recommended a friend of his to help me get the spec right.  If you have friends or colleagues who know a field better than you, I would definitely advise you to get some thoughts and ideas from them.  You may not want to mix business with friendship which is fine, but as a friend, I'd certainly offer my thoughts and advice for free to those who asked for it.  This friend of a friend is called Stuart Reed and he runs his own business called Cloudprop.  He was great - he helped me shape the brief and came with me to meetings to make sure we would get the levels of security we needed. 

I was amazed at what came back in response to my brief.  I literally had quotes ranging from £800 - £25,000.  Just so you know a site like this, with the level of interactivity, bespoke solutions (scanning powerpoints and uploading, downloading) has cost us in the region of £20,000.   My best advice for others looking to hire a web developer is this: 

1. Make sure your site will be owned by you. 

2. Do spec out your brief carefully and get help with this. 

3.  As your site develops you will make changes.  So make sure your contract includes for the provision of a little flexibility - the allowance of a few changes.  Web companies can't keep changing things so it's fair there is a balance here.  Getting it in writing - e.g 'after the first review we will allow up to 8 hours to make changes'.  I've made a lot more that that and have paid my developers accordingly.  You will want to make changes. 

4.  A web company that has their own graphic designer is a good idea - web developers can write the code you need, but they don't always know how to make the site 'look good'. 

5.  Get some level of understanding about customer service. How quickly will they get back to you? Who else will look after the site (if someone goes on holiday). 

6.  Work with someone you like. Gut reaction is actually your experience based on thousands of encounters over the years.  You know who you like so if you get a good feeling that's positive.

7. I personally prefer working with a company which is close enough to my office. If something is urgent or if I want to run through something, it is easier to do this face to face - especially when changes get made before your eyes: the chance to observe and comment 'live' is useful.

 

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Resistence

BY Lucy Standing 11 May 2013 01:27

 I may not be the best sales person in the world, but you try and sell this message:        

"Please would you consider publishing your training course on line - for the world to see without paying.  I have no track record in running websites, I can't prove anyone will buy anything and as the site isn't live you can't even see it".    

Funnily, enough I didn't get many takers.  So I started off with friends and colleagues and thank the amazing team at work positive for being one of our first supporters.  They along with Steve Whiddett who is a great psychologist and friend was what I needed to help get the ball rolling a little further.  Once I knew I'd have a few people who would post content then the next step would be to invest in getting a website....

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Intellectual property

BY Lucy Standing 11 May 2013 01:17

 

Before getting on the phone and asking people to share content on line, I knew people would raise issues regarding intellectual property, so I consulted a lawyer.   The firm I used is Hansel Henson - they are experts in the field of digital media and they've been brilliant with advice on how to legally structure the site.  So neutrain is a platform - like 'you tube' or wikipedia. We aren't a publisher: we don't edit or change your content because if we do that we then become responsible for it. 

What our lawyers advised us is that people can't really 'own' things like 'interview' or 'management' skills. You can copyright logos or images, but text only starts to get a look in if people copy more than 2 sentences word for word.  Ideas, processes, methods, approaches - there is so much information in the public domain that anyone who says they intellectually own anything like this is not well informed.  The other very interesting they said is ownership requires proof.  If you publish your course you can claim it's yours because it's out there in the public domain. If it's sitting on a hard drive, who is to say you didn't just take that from someone else?  So, through consultation, neutrain was taking shape. We were going to allow trainers to spread the word about their work, whilst providing them with a publishing vehicle to protect their content. If people buy material off the trainers they then own it and can do what they want with it - much as you would when you buy a dress in a shop.  Once I knew the project legally made sense, I started to contact others to see if they'd join our mini training revolution.

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Idea testing

BY Lucy Standing 11 May 2013 01:13

I examined who else was providing training materials on line.  There are plenty of them out there - all showing samples or tasters but nothing I could quickly consult without registering.  Some had annual packages others would allow individual purchases - but none would show you the product in its entirety. Which struck me as odd - would I buy a jacket without trying it on?   I believe people make better purchasing decisions when they can see what they're buying.  So I wanted a site that would share everything.  

I then asked myself - 'can this site make any money'?    As there are no high street shops that sell 'training materials' in downloadable formats, the audience would be on line - it would make sense to see how many of them were searching.  Google adwords has an amazing tool - the 'keyword search tool' is completely free and allows you to see how popular certain terms are.  For example using this tool, I know 'conflict management' is a more popular search term than 'managing conflict'.  Most SEO companies use the keyword search tool and probably don't want me telling you this!     I searched on 'training materials' (and others) and found approximately 1,600 people a month search for this.   I've been advised that around 10% of people who see your site in a google list will click on it - this is the rule of thumb I've been told SEO people use.  So that would leave me with 160 people seeing 'neutrain' in a list and clicking on us - and that assumes we get onto googles front page!    And then you have to estimate what percentage of people will actually pay for the products.  Google, Linked in, Yahoo - they work on the 'freemium' business model which is 99% of users pay nothing and 1% pay for the products.  So there we are - 1.6 people purchasing a product a month. Then, I have to pay the author - so what percentage could I charge in commission?  Auction houses charge 20% and that seemed fair to me.  So assuming google have their stats right (I assume they do!) that means I'd realistically make £6-10 a month.  So the answer to 'will it make money' question is a no.  So then I had to decide was I going to spend time and money developing something which I know will never pay itself back?    For me the answer was yes. Good training does make a positive difference and I want this site to be part of making that more accessible. 


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Starting point

BY ANON 10 May 2013 05:31

The starting point for neutrain was the idea.  As a freelance psychologist I am often asked to deliver training courses and rather than always starting from scratch tried to see what else was on line.   I couldn't find anything that was shared freely which got me thinking.  We're not all experts in different fields - so the idea with neutrain is to get the experts from different areas to share their work - so everyone searching could see what best practise looks like.  

With it being a recession, trainers were having a tough time.  Rather than joining forces, people were doign their best to promote their own websites - in a sense all competing with each other. I like the Amazon model which is suppliers can benefit from the name and brand of a large organisation as a platform for their products.  I wanted to do the same - provide a sharing platform where in return for sharing, people are rewarded with the attention of people searching for that content.  No one pays anything and we all work together, in one place, making life easier for people like me, wanting to find training material content. 

The last thing I thought was quality control. How do you control for that? I'm not an expert in every field - but others are. So like trip advisor, I thought it would be really useful to build in a process whereby experts in different areas can write reviews - and the authors and others looking will benefit from that expertise. 

Before launching into spending lots of time on this, I contacted some of my own previous colleagues and spoke to contacts I had in the L&D world.  No one said they wouldn't use a free library of training materials. So that is where I started from.

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