Let’s face it, continuous improvement is part of our lives, whether we consider ourselves agile or not. Keeping our skills as primed as possible in our respective fields helps keep us moving forward in our careers. Without training and continuous learning we cannot expect to get that next raise or promotion.
The famous basketball coach, John Wooden, put it best in this quote: “When I am through learning, I am through.” It’s not just about learning to get better and make more money, it’s about improving our life and the lives of others around us. Coach Wooden meant he would be done with life if he was done learning because at every age of life there is something to learn.
So we must keep learning, in our personal lives and in our work. If we must keep doing it, we should make it as accessible as possible. Learning should not be difficult to find or navigate. Administrative activities should not occupy too much of our precious time.
Organizations these days have begun to harness that notion and make continuous learning and improvement accessible to all employees whenever they would like to use it. With eLearning tools such as Udemy and the Kanh Academy, learning is now more accessible than ever before.
But our internal training? We don’t want to make that public. That’s how companies get their competitive edge. After all, the tools are only as good as the people that use them, so any organizational competitive advantage is deeply rooted in the organization’s people.
Good training should also have follow-ups, reading material, and extra training incorporated.
So how do we make our training easily accessible for our colleagues? Well, it starts with Confluence, so let’s take a closer look.
Confluence is already our tool for documentation and internal wikis. It’s a great collaboration tool that integrates directly with Jira. Users create their own Spaces for content, then pages within those Spaces are organized into a hierarchy of parent and child pages. With Confluence, users can tag, comment, like, and work in teams to discuss documents and goals.
If we are already using Confluence for internal and external documentation, why not start using it for our training? Trainers and administrators can create Spaces for all training materials or department-specific Spaces if the organization is large. Within those Spaces, you could have pages for individual training. On each page, you could have a video of the training for users to watch in their own time. You could also have a transcript of the training, some materials for practice, and links to find more information.
If training sessions are live, even better! The trainer could have a different page for each training session, taking notes about what each person or group needs to improve on or what they should accomplish in the next session. After the training session, the trainer or trainees can refer back to that page to see what the next steps are and… continuously improve!
Now that we’ve got some basic ideas on how to do training with Confluence, let’s take it to the next level and make Confluence our “training portal”. First, what exactly is a training portal?
A training portal is a place where your employees can go to get more information about their training. That could include courses, videos, presentations, or documents. Training portals can range widely in what they offer, with more sophisticated training portals having messaging, email, or even virtual learning environments. The most important characteristics are more qualitative, though. Good training portals are user-centric, personalized, multi-format, and interactive. Confluence can accomplish most if not all of these characteristics.
Taking training portals to the next level with Properties
The Properties - Custom fields, Metadata, Databases & Reports app helps teams quickly gather important information on pages and display that information on an index page. The app works by using two macros; Property Group and Property Group Report. The Property Group macro allows you to gather the information on a page and the Property Group Report macro allows you to display that information on a centralized index page. Does this sound like the Page Properties and Page Properties Report macro? Well, the behavior is, but there are some key differences.
The Properties macros allow you to keep your information consistent by utilizing the following field types:
- Free text
The out-of-the-box macros that come along with Confluence are free text only. This means that they are prone to human error and inconsistencies across pages. For more details on this read our piece on Organizing New Job Applications in Confluence Cloud.
In our case of creating a next-level training portal, each page corresponds to a training session. Therefore, there is important information pertaining to each page that we can highlight on an index page. The information we chose to gather for each training session is shown below in our Property Group macro.
To use this macro, navigate to the page of your choice and choose the edit icon. Type “/” into the editor and type "property". Choose the Property Group macro.
Select the property group you would like to use. If none exist, you can create one right from this editor by clicking the button in the bottom left of the panel. Once you have your Property Group set up, fill in the details as necessary and press “Save”. Publish your page as usual when you are ready.
Once we have multiple pages for different training sessions, we can see the results of all the “Training” Property Groups on the Property Groups Report page. You can see an example of this below.
We can use this Property Group macro to display different categories of training. If we wanted to only display onboarding training we could configure the macro like below.
Another important feature of the Property Group macro is the ability to edit the table live. This means that if you want to make some edits to the information displayed in the table, you don’t need to access the individual page to do so. Here you can see an example of us editing the “Trainees” field directly in the Property Group Report macro.
Elevate your training portal with Properties
Everyone likes consistent information when they are browsing topics to dig deeper. The same way libraries organize their books by the Dewey Decimal System, training portals should have a way to organize their content and give the users key information before they sign up or read on.
Properties - Custom Fields, Metadata, Databases & Reports gives content managers the ability to provide this information to their users. In turn, it gives the users a friendly way to see all their training content needs.
If you need help taking your Confluence training portal to the next level, feel free to contact us. If you are already using Properties for a different use case, reach out and tell use more about it, we’d love to hear from you!
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