This Successful Solutions issue focuses on converting trainings to virtual platforms

Director's Greetings

It is finally summer! But it's like no other summer we have ever experienced. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of our organizations to re-think how we operate, get work done and support our employees while social distancing or even working entirely remotely.
As human resources professionals, we all know the importance of a continued focus on the professional development of our employees. Unfortunately, some organizations have completely halted learning and development programs by assuming they cannot be conducted virtually and/or they are not a priority. At the same time, during this unprecedented health crisis most of our employees are being forced to work remotely thus causing a sense of isolation from their teams and the organization. Actually, continuing to find ways to provide our employees with ongoing learning opportunities and methods for connecting with others has never been more of a priority!
This issue focuses on how to develop a virtual learning environment.  The "What's New at ODLS" section features a newly developed webinar series on Instructional Design for Virtual Learning.  Our "Client Spotlight" focuses on our partnership with the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to help convert its entire classroom curriculum to an asynchronous/virtual learning environment.  Our featured "Recommended Vendors" provide two critical services for virtual learning: closed captioning and document remediation. Our "Staff Spotlight" celebrates the one-year anniversary and promotion of Dana Remian, our Senior Instructional Designer. Lastly, our "Top 10 Tips" article focuses on 10 best practices for developing a virtual learning environment.

For information on how we can help your organization with its Organizational Development Consulting, Learning Solutions, and Event Management needs, read on and be sure to visit us at .

Dana L. Henry, ODLS Director
(413) 896-6140

What's New!

We are pleased to provide a webinar-based skill-building series to support staff in converting their in-person trainings to on-line learning experiences. The following steps outline the series:

Step 1: Pre-work - Upfront Needs Assessment
Step 2:  Webinar #1 - Instructional Design for Virtual Learning
Step 3 Webinar #2 - Facilitation Skills for Virtual Learning
Step 4: Webinar #3 - Learning Lab: Breakout Discussion Groups and Large-Group Debrief

Learn more by reading the full version this of article
In This Issue
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Client: The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) - Program conversionsclientspotlight

Beginning in Fiscal Year 2018, the OIG prioritized the conversion of its entire Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official (MCPPO) classroom-based curriculum to fully asynchronous eLearning. The office has further committed to building a robust virtual learning environment using the Blackboard Learning Management System provided by UMass Online (UMOL). The OIG has been partnering with both the UMass Donahue Institute and UMOL for this program conversion process. Due to the technical focus and depth of the OIG learning materials, the conversion process needed the following approach:
  • instructional design focus on objectives, content organization and requirements for accreditation of content
  • scripting previously unscripted slide decks by the client
  • storyboarding into the eLearning format
  • extensive client review of storyboards for quality and accuracy
  • professional narration
  • professional videography for subject matter expert videos
  • integration of all materials using Articulate Storyline 360
  • client review of eLearning for quality and functionality
  • pilot testing of full course for further quality control, feedback and accreditation purposes
The OIG's Regulatory and Compliance Division's dedicated team worked diligently to breakdown complex regulatory requirements into learner-friendly segments, resulting in the conversion of lengthy classroom training into a series of easy to navigate eLearning modules. The past year saw the successful launch of two complete MCPPO programs: Supplies & Service Contracting and Real Property, as well as a large number of rapidly-developed webinars in response to COVID-19. Through the piloting and launch of these programs, ODLS and UMOL provided support and training for OIG staff as they learned Blackboard. OIG staff have since become adept Blackboard users and multiple offerings of each converted program are now underway.

Recommended Vendor #1: - Closed Captioningrevcom

For many people, closed captioning is an important element for increasing the accessibility of videos and e-Learning modules. It is a 508 Compliance  requirement for deaf or hard of hearing people to be able to access an organization's online video/audio content. But many more people benefit from closed captioning such as people who are ELL (English Language Learners) learners. Closed captioning also helps all learners with retention.'s closed captioning service enables your organization to get more value from their existing video content by appealing to a wider audience.
Follow this easy three-step online process:
  1. Upload videos: Upload files, paste URLs, or pull from YouTube or Vimeo. It's secure and confidential.
  2. Professionals Go to Work: 50,000+ professionals caption your videos 24/7 with 99% accuracy, 100% guaranteed.
  3. Receive And Publish Captions: Clients view and edit with's tools.
Then, publish anywhere.
For more information, visit

Recommended Vendor#2: CommonLook - Document Remediationcommonlook

CommonLook, a leader in PDF accessibility, provides software and professional services to help organizations achieve compliance with document accessibility standards, including  WCAG , PDF/UA and Section 508.
How does CommonLook stand out?
  • Specialized in document accessibility with expertise for complex projects
  • Full range of document accessibility software, in addition to remediation services
  • Proven processes and technology, refined through hundreds of customer engagements
  • High volume remediation capacity to rapidly transform digital assets, and reach compliance
  • Only CommonLook software and Adobe Acrobat are listed by W3C for PDF remediation
For more information visit:

ODLS Staff: Dana Remian - Senior Instructional Designerdanaremian

Dana Remian joined the ODLS team as an eLearning Specialist in April 2019. Due to Dana's outstanding work, he was recently promoted to Senior Instructional Designer. 

He is responsible for the design and development of eLearning and multimedia assets, as well as the selection of technology solutions, setting the unit's eLearning standards and best practices, and establishing innovative approaches to blended learning for ODLS clients. Mr. Remian brings several years of experience as a corporate trainer and a wealth of experience working for both public sector and non-profit worlds. He applies a creative and critical eye to designing attractive and evidence-based approaches to learning. 

Mr. Remian received his bachelors of arts in English literature from Worcester State University and his masters of education in instructional design from the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Useful Resources
Top 10 Tips for Establishing a Virtual Learning Environmenttop10

1. Consider Your  Audience:
Before spending a single dollar on a new platform or approach, ask yourself whether virtual learning is appropriate for your audience. A full-featured and robust online learning environment will go to waste if most of your learners lack the skills or technology necessary to utilize it. Demographic factors like age, education, access to reliable broadband, geographic location, and languages understood may require consideration. You may have to provide training for your employees, improve access to technology, and ensure technical support is available.
2. Consider Your Organizational Needs:
What are you hoping to achieve by establishing a virtual learning environment? Do you need a way to track and analyze learner information, or do you simply need a way to deliver material to your learners? Platforms for hosting content range from little-to-no-cost to tens of thousands of dollars a year. If your instructional needs are focused on general business, productivity, communication, or software skills you may be able to license access to existing platforms with in-built libraries of professionally designed content. If you have significant or unique needs, you may need to plan for the design and development of custom courses and a learning management system (LMS) to track learners.
3. Consider Your Organizational Capacity:
Just as platforms and tools can require considerable investment, shifting your instructional approach may require your professionals to learn new skills or rely on outside specialists. Large organizations with developed online learning programs typically have multiple staff devoted to  LMS  administration, developing and maintaining content, providing technical support and facilitating online training. For a small organization with simple needs, these tasks may be managed by a single learning and development professional or they may be unnecessary altogether.

Helpful Links Helpfullinks

Professional Development Vendors
  • Real Cool Productions: Full-service video, animation, and mixed media production company in Boston that services global businesses.
  • CommonLook: Provider of software products for achieving compliance with PDF and document accessibility standards through a process called Remediation. 
  • Tara Hall: Independent graphic and web-design consultant.
Professional Development Resources
Professional Learning Associations
UMass Donahue Institute
Organizational Development & 
Learning Solutions
1 Beacon Street, Floor 31
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 287-4068
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