Transcript

How Microlearning is Having a $2.2 Million Annual Impact at Bloomingdale’s

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Alec: 

Good morning. Good afternoon and welcome to today’s webinar. My name is Alec and I’ll be here in the background to help answer any general or technical questions that you have but before we begin, I’d like to go over a few of the tools that you will have at your disposal throughout today’s session. The audio controls located directly beneath the slides adjust volume by setting the indicators to the right on this panel. [inaudible 00:00:29] Be sure to adjust your computer speaker or headphone volume as needed. Here, the buttons found at the bottom of your screen, please take a moment, familiarize yourself with them. If you’re unsure what a button does, hover your mouse over the button and a description will appear. Join the ongoing live discussion of today’s webinar. Please access the group chat by clicking on the blue group chat icon. Please send your questions in all technical issues via the Q&A widget. Click on the purple icon marked Q&A, type in your question and click submit. As some answers to some frequently asked questions for you, you will receive a link to the recording of today’s webinar in a follow up email.

Please allow at least two business days before that information is sent. A PDF of the slides can be downloaded via the resource list on the right hand side of your console and a link to them will be provided in the same follow up email. Your HRCI and SHRM certification codes for today’s webinar will appear in the certification box in the upper right hand corner of your screen after the required watch time has elapsed so please keep your eyes open for that. All right, so as you all probably know, as why you’re here, microlearning is a hot topic and we have a great presenter here with us to show the value of microlearning, the value that microlearning can bring. Carol Leaman is the CEO of Axonify, the world’s first employee knowledge platform. In 2012 alone, Carol received three awards for presentations delivered on the future of learning and Carol has recently been featured in the leading publications such as Fortune magazine, Wired magazine, The Next Web and Business Insider. I know you’re going to enjoy today’s presentation and the chance to interact with Carol so let’s get started. Carol?

 

Carol Leaman:   

Thanks very much, Alec, and I’m sending my regrets from Chad McIntosh, who is the VP of loss prevention and risk management at Bloomingdale. Chad is actually on the West Coast today and doing a whole bunch of store visits and unfortunately, he had one that was going to conflict with the presentation today unexpectedly so Chad does send his regrets and I’m going to do his part of the presentation. He and I have actually presented before so I am quite familiar with the Bloomingdale’s story. As the VP of loss prevention and risk management, Chad has been in this area of business for quite some time. He’s got over 30 years of retail loss prevention experience with various retailers including Neiman Marcus, Home Depot, Polo, Ralph Lauren and Macy’s and he holds a business admin degree from the University of Maryland. IF there are any questions specific to Chad, he would be more than happy to answer them, post presentation. We can put you in touch with him and he’d be happy to do that.

What we’re going to talk about today is basically microlearning at Bloomingdale’s, the experience that folks are having and the results that Bloomingdale’s is getting with their store associates and we’re talking about 10s of thousands of people. At the very end, I’m going to relay a couple of really neat anecdotes that Chad likes to tell about the impact that microlearning has had in a couple of real life situations in the workplace. Then we’ll talk about the five, we’ll summarize with the five key microlearning components that you should consider if you are looking at employing microlearning in your workplace.

First, we’ll turn to the definition of microlearning. There is some, it is a very very hot topic as Alec mentioned but there is a little bit of confusion about what that term means. What we like to say is that it is in fact simply a way of delivering content to your learners, your audience in small bite sized chunks. That’s really what microlearning is. It’s really quite simple. What it is, is not, is simply turning one hour videos into one minute videos. As we’re out there in the market, talking to folks, there is some confusion about microlearning being simply small video chunking. Microlearning goes beyond that, the chunking of videos is just simply the medium or the content. Microlearning is really about a mechanism to drive continuous learning and that results in behavior change in the workplace.

It also should include the push of content but the pull of content, and what I mean by that is you want your learners to be able to access at a moment’s notice, at that point of need, small micro bits of learning that answer a question that deliver that piece of knowledge instantly when the employee needs it most. It is both a push and a pull that you really want to be thinking about if you’re looking at employee microlearning. There are two key components to a really good microlearning scenario or environment and those are some kind of platform for delivery because you want to be able to reach those learners that you’re trying to target. Then how do you do content chunking? What does that mean? What are some elements of chunking that mean that you are delivering a very effective microlearning program? First, we’re going to touch on why microlearning has suddenly become so hot so quickly. If any of you go to conferences, you’ll know that it is the new buzzword just like gamification, in fact, with the buzzword a couple of years ago.

The real drive behind the rise of microlearning as a concept is a three point collision. Three things have happened in the last couple of years. In fact, even going back a little bit longer than that, that has made microlearning ideal in the workplace today. Those three things are characteristics of the modern employee, which I’m going to speak about momentarily. The increasing knowledge demands that employees have on them and that they have of their employers. People want to know a lot and again, I’ll talk about that in a moment. Then finally, advancements in science and technology. We’re going to delve into just a few concepts around that. These three things coming together have really driven microlearning. The first that I mentioned, the modern employee. Many of you may recognize the content within this pie chart from a Burson report that came out about a year and a half ago. That report really did condense down and summarize key characteristics of employees in the workplace today.

I won’t go through every chunk on that circle but the bottom line is, I don’t think any of us would argue, that three out of four people would say today that they’re stressed at work. They simply don’t have time to really deal with all of the things coming at them so we’re very, very stressed. We have knowledge on demand needs and at the end of the day, when you look at every single aspect of what’s on that circle, you can’t believe that in fact, the reality is each learner in a typical work week only has about 1% of their time to actively devote to learning. That’s how inundated with information employees are today and demands on their time, meetings to go to, things that they have to do.

The second element that I spoke about is the increasing knowledge demands in this three point collision. It’s simply the case that employees have to know more than ever before in the workplace today. It is growing and has grown in fact, exponentially over the last decade. Products are much more complex. How you service customers in fact, has changed dramatically. Compliance requirements in the workplace and there’s been a lot of airplay given to leaders and how do you convey leadership concepts that are most effective in the workplace. Employees need to have all of this information at a moment’s notice and it changes frequently. We all know as things change daily in fact, and we need to allow employees to be able to change midstream with information at the ready so that they can be top performers in the workplace. That intense pressure is really the second element that has caused microlearning to be such a hot topic.

The third one that really has been in a way, the glue for bringing all of these things together are advancements in science and also technology, especially the last five to 10 years that has made knowledge around how the human brain acquires information most effectively, retains that information and then turns it into action. We now know a lot more about cognitive strategies and how the brain works than ever before. In fact, that knowledge has increased pretty dramatically in the last 10 years and we are finding now microlearning solutions that employ these concepts do very effectively drive knowledge and retention much more so than traditional methods of learning. The advancements in technology have allowed employees to access knowledge literally anywhere, anytime and they do. It is simply the case that learners whether they’re home or whether their at work search Google, search in social networks and because they usually have devices with them, can do that right at the point of need. All of those things, the three things together have really led to the rise of microlearning as the latest, greatest approach to how to convey knowledge to those employees in the workplace.

I’m going to now turn to Bloomingdale’s, a story at Bloomingdale’s. This is quite a successful implementation of microlearning. It all started with a hoop skirt. Chad actually tells a story about the initial origin of Bloomingdale’s. As many of you would know today, Bloomingdale’s is a very high end retailer, based in New York City, founded in 1872 so one of the long standing iconic organizations in the U.S. and they have a beautiful flagship store on 59th street. If any of you have not been there, you really should. It is a landmark and quite an experience, in fact to go in. Today, they have 38 department stores throughout the U.S. 16 outlet stores and they’re in 13 states and they have over 10,000 employees today so quite a large, widely distributed learner base. In fact, I think today it’s close to the 15,000 associates in the company.

Bloomingdale’s, a case where Chad, as the VP of loss prevention, was looking to enhance various activities they had going on to really try to make a measurable difference in certain areas of the business that he had responsibility for and still does and those involved safe work practices, inventory loss or what’s commonly known in the industry, a shrink, various processes and procedures, for example, how to use cash register and do other things and compliance related topics. These are the areas of loss that often results in pretty substantial dollars lost for retailers and Bloomingdale’s, like other retailers had, focuses specific effort in fact, on reducing those areas of loss. Why microlearning as an approach at Bloomingdale’s? As Chad would tell you, their corporate learning approach prior to microlearning was in fact, very much a traditional learning type of approach, fire hose of information, lots of information overload and a real disconnect between the learning and development parts of the business with what the business unit owners needed in terms of behavior change and knowledge and operationalization of that knowledge in the workplace.

They were doing posters and handouts. They had rallies in the morning or periodically to talk about things that were going on. They had their compliance related training for OSHA, for example. One of the things that many of you may know is that in the retail sector, OSHA reportable incidents are actually quite substantial. They had to do new hire orientation, you can’t put a retail associate on the floor without some really basic and mission critical training with respect to how to address customers, for example and provide excellent customer service. Then they would do surveys that would periodically survey on the effectiveness of learning and what employees knew about what they had been taught. The issues that they were having in that traditional approach were very, very typical of any learning environment. There was inconsistency from department to department and store to store and largely that has to do with the various managers in the stores, how effective they were conveying information. It was difficult to identify within the associate base who actually was understanding and retaining information and who wasn’t, and so it was a case of just hoping that as many did as possible.

There was a complete lack of engagement and appeal to that form of learning and again, very, very typical, learners get bored with traditional types of learning and in fact, lose attention span very, very quickly. There were no metrics to understand what people knew or didn’t know in order to understand then how they would behave in the workplace and they had poor compliance, lots of claims, the employees had a very negative image of training. They couldn’t change gears very quickly when they had to convey new information so the bottom line for them was that employees weren’t remembering and applying what they needed to know in order to be top performers and the cost of that at Bloomingdale’s was quite substantial. It really condensed down to preventable safety claims because employees were doing things incorrectly and getting hurt and then a lack of understanding of various loss prevention programs that were designed to save money for the company.

Chad was on a search for a new approach to associate training that really solved those problems. He needed something that would be engaging for the employees and associates themselves, something that could be integrated into their workday that didn’t require them to be pulled off the floor into a group huddle and take time away from on the job. Finally, something that was very measurable so he went on the lookout. Those criteria really for him were the culmination of what he wanted to achieve, which was improved performance in the business and a change and improvement in those bottom line results. He set about looking for something and that’s what really led him to using a microlearning approach to associate training and so what he arrived at was a solution that took everyday learning, wrapped it in various game mechanics and did it in a way that was very short, highly targeted and personalized to each associate and accessible in a variety of locations to make it as easy as humanly possible for the associate to spend that three to five minutes whenever they had time.

It avoided that pulling everybody into a room, conveying one size fits all information at a specific time of day. It really put learning in the hands of the learner to a large degree. What they did was they roll the program out in three phases. They decided that it really was most effective to start with areas of priority and not just try to boil the ocean all at once with absolutely everything associates needed to know day one. The reason for that is when you take a microlearning approach, the reality is you are delivering short bits of information so you can’t deliver it all day one. They picked their priorities and they chose safety awareness as phase number one and a variety of topics, box cutters, et cetera, the things that you see on the slide that they determined were resulting in the highest number of accidents and injuries in the workplace.

The second phase was shrink, they addressed inventory fast in the stores and I’m just going to pick on black tag, one of those items that you see for a moment. This was an initiative actually started by Chad, which I’ll talk about a little bit later on the slide, quite an interesting little story. Then phase three, just overall associate trainings so that’s the phased in approach that they took to most effectively rolling out. The experience was a three to five minutes experience that the employees started to go through whenever they had that three minutes. What it essentially did was took the employee who had been through some introductory training that made a foundation for all of the various topic areas they needed to know and then how to chunk down into those microlearning bits that were delivered daily in those three to five minutes sessions. Each employee’s knowledge path became fragmented instantly based on how they performed on the platform.

Employees that demonstrated high degrees of knowledge were instantly moved through the topic areas into new and fresh topic areas, while those that were struggling, continued to get microlearning reinforcement in areas where they demonstrated lack of knowledge. It adapted to each individual until a minimum level of competency was demonstrated that meant the employee knew and Bloomingdale’s was confidence that knowledge would translate into a very key business results. This is what the experience looks like for a Bloomingdale’s employee and again as I mentioned earlier, accessible on multiple types of devices just wherever the employee finds it most convenient to do that three to five minutes a day. The employees welcome to the session is allowed to choose a game to play and this is a particular game mechanic that clears the brain of distraction and really allows the learner to focus on that key bit of learning when they happen to hit it within the game.

Bloomingdale’s times a game for three to five minutes and that allows that learning to take place. The employee chooses a game to play, at various points in the game, in that case, when they hit a hole in one or they sink the ball into the goal hole, the game pauses in the background and the employee is asked the question, which is a particular brain science concept that is focused on what that associate needs to know for their particular job. The employee answers the question. They get asked their level of confidence in that answer and those results are immediately returned to the employee and they’re given points for participation. In this case, the employee gets the answer right. They get a higher number of points than if they get the answer wrong and that encourages daily participation with learning. As I mentioned earlier, every single employee’s questions are tailored to their specific levels of knowledge and what they’ve done previously in terms of answering things correct or incorrect, and knowledge that’s deficient is reinforced.

The employee also is provided some intrinsic motivators to again get on and do this every single day consistently and that is through their own personal analytics about how they’re doing. They get to see how they’re performing in topic areas when they need something refreshed, what their answer patterns are over the previous 30 days and they can drill into these various elements that allow them to enhance their learning, to grow confidence in their knowledge, to refresh knowledge quickly and to really start to understand the impact of their knowledge on their ability to perform day to day. What was the impact? The impact was a pretty astounding actually. Bloomingdale’s was astounded to find greater than 90% voluntary participation in the awareness training program. When you’re talking about 10,000 plus people, widely distributed geographically, who are not mandated to do daily learning, greater than 90% participation was beyond anything that they imagined could be possible from a voluntary learning perspective so they were extremely pleased at that result.

As Chad says, he knew pretty quickly that 15,000 people at Bloomingdale’s were living and breathing messages that were core to some of the key strategic objectives of Bloomingdale’s related to topics like reduction of medical accidents and injuries, OSHA reportable and fast and customer service and all of the topic areas that were very, very critical. In terms of financial results, they saw a 41% reduction in safety incidents. Again, for those of you in the retail sector, you will know that safety incidents cost millions of dollars typically and in some cases, depending on the size of the retailer, tens of millions. For Bloomingdale’s, this was again an astounding outcome that they didn’t expect in fact, from what was a voluntary microlearning experience. The bottom line was that in the first year, they saved $2.2 million and could quantify that very specifically to stores and the various types of loss that they were incurring previously. In fact, Chad has since relayed that, that $2.2 million he believes has grown now on an annual basis to greater than $3 million.

A very substantial return on investment in terms of the outcomes, the business outcomes from raising awareness and knowledge and action on the part of the Bloomies associates. He likes to summarize by saying that he knows the associates are more knowledgeable, they are more effective at their job. He knows they have a safer work environment and in fact, that has translated into things that they’ve done at home to be safer so a lot of the content is in fact applicable to what goes on at work but also what goes on at home and he feels quite grateful about that. He also knows that employees are more engaged. They are talking about learning at work. They’ve never heard that before and they are quite engaged with the experience and again people typically don’t talk about learning in the workplace so another benefit, side benefit of that. Chad also tells a couple of really good stories that demonstrate actual things that have happened that microlearning supported and were quite demonstrable, and they tell these stories at Bloomingdale’s frequently.

The first one is around broken glass. There was a Bloomingdale’s associate in the cosmetics area of the business to knock a perfume bottle off of one of the counters and it smashed on the floor into a lot of pieces of broken glass. It just so happened that at that moment in time, a couple of executives were touring that store and they were very close by, heard the smash and immediately walked over to see what had happened and started to clean up, help clean up and the associate was brave enough and confident enough in her level of knowledge to be able to say to those two executives, please let me to go it. You’re not cleaning this up in the appropriate way and I don’t want to see you be cut by glass so please allow me to do it with the proper procedure. The two executives were pretty astounded by that approach and allowed the associate to do it and then sent to her afterwards, how did you know how to clean up this broken glass the right way?

Her response was I get trained on lots of things all the time and this is one of the topic areas that I’ve had reinforced to me. It got the executives instant attention, which learning as many of you will know often does not, it’s assumed, it is not in fact something that executives often think about it, more they are increasingly so but there was a very specific example of how training was quite effective at behavior change. The second incident that is on the slide is a story about an unfortunate event and that is the shootings in Paris some months ago. When those events happens, Bloomingdale’s put on high alert various stores, particularly the one in New York City, that flagship store. That store is a tourist destination and gets lots and lots of notice, lots of people walking through, is very, very busy and very crowded and using the microlearning approach, they identified that there was increased risk of a potential threat in the flagship store and so they were immediately able to deploy a module in relation to what’s called active shooter.

They instantly deployed the microlearning questions and pieces of information that were specific to that topic area so that the instant the associate got on to do some learning, their personal knowledge path was bypassed and they instantly saw information with respect to active shooter so that they could be safer. Chad has said many times that getting that kind of information in the hands instantly of their associates was, in a very granular way and specific way was previously almost impossible. One added element, Chad to close off those stories is in those environments where you have widely dispersed employees shift where people are coming and going constantly. In fact, high turnover where people are also coming and going from the employer very, very frequently, it is very difficult to get a consistent message at a granular level in front of all the people who need to know at any given point in time and the microlearning approach has allowed Bloomingdale’s to do that.

To wrap up the experience and what I said at the beginning of the presentation, there really are five key components to a really good microlearning platform. They go to those brain science techniques that I mentioned very briefly earlier and in particular, those techniques involved things like based repetition, that some of you may have heard about or be using today and that is the spacing of information very appropriately and expanding or shrinking the spacing in between information, is presented to employees that allows the brain to very effectively retain information. When you combine a concept like that with retrieval practice, another brain science concept, which is the act of asking questions to get the learner to extract from their memory banks what the correct answer is, those things in combination with each other are highly effective at driving knowledge and retention so that the employee has the maximum opportunity to pull it out at that moment of need and be able to do the right thing as the associate did in the perfume bottle example.

The second element is engagement. It really is the case that, I don’t think anybody would argue, that classroom based instruction, instructor led learning, LMS, long form videos, really do not engage the employee and the mind in getting the learning done. The attention span is short, often the information is boring and so you really do need to be thinking about current ways to engage your learners in wanting to actively get involved in the learning process. We know today that learners when they need information, go find it in places and one of the most prevalent places is Google. What you don’t want to do is have your employees finding information in Google when they should know and have it at their disposal at their fingertips or in their heads. How do you get them on to do that? Gamification and various forms of game mechanics are really, really effective way to achieve that. Having it be adaptive to the individual so it isn’t one size fits all. It is very personalized to their levels of knowledge.

There’s nothing more ineffective than delivering large volumes of content that is one size fits all, that a bunch of people in the room already know and so you lose those individuals pretty quickly, you end up having to train to the lowest common denominator. Microlearning allows you to understand what each individual knows and you can adapt to their personal levels of knowledge, which keep engagement and interest and learning very high. The fourth thing is measurement. It has been a conundrum for years in learning and development to have ways to measure not just did somebody take the course, how did they answer questions, but how did they change behavior and get me that business outcome? What ways did they change behavior and drive that financial result? When you can very specifically measure what a person knows or doesn’t know in a topic area and then correlate that to an incident for example, you can start to draw inferences and statistically relevant conclusions about what levels of knowledge you need in topic areas in order to drive those business results through and that’s entirely possible now.

Then finally, having it accessible anywhere, anytime the employee has a few minutes to engage in learning, leave it up to them, allow them to go looking for it when they need it at that moment of need and what you push to them or present to them, be those things that are most important to the business. If you can combine all five of those elements and do it in a microlearning type of environment or situation, you can achieve maximum retention and operationalization and have a really really active engaged workforce in the area of learning. Here is a final slide that shows us statistically relevant information about how brain science when combined in a microlearning way, eliminates the human brain forgetting. What you see here is the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve in the dark blue that goes down over the bottom.

Ebbinghaus, a scientist, 100 years ago, studied memory and came up to the conclusion that memory degradation happens very, very rapidly in human beings and so when you train them and you send them off into the job and try to get them to remember all of those many things you’ve told them, the reality is most of us, 30 days later, remember very little and so that’s when you can run into problems. If you take a microlearning approach, you can mitigate forgetting and keep that level of knowledge extremely high in the human brain and that’s what you see here with the bright green line at the top. This data is the culmination of 2.7 million learning sessions, individual by individual, that clearly show a mitigation of how employees tend to forget and when people forget they guess, and when they guess, they often will do something incorrectly, which costs money so you really do want to mitigate that forgetting curve wherever possible and microlearning is a fantastic approach to do that.

With that, I will turn it back to Alec to ask if we have any questions and I’m happy to answer.

 

Alec:   

All right. Thank you, Carol, for that great presentation. As she said, we are going to go to the Q&A portion so if you want to submit a question, just click on the purple icon marked Q&A, type in your question and click submit, but we do have a lot in the queue right now so let’s dive right in. We have a question here that asks via what technology is learning delivered particularly in the terrorist preparedness situation that you described?

 

Carol Leaman: 

Can you repeat that, Alec, just the beginning part of the question? What?

 

Alec: 

Absolutely so it says via what technology is the learning delivered particularly in the terrorist preparedness situation?

 

Carol Leaman: 

Bloomingdale’s uses the Axonify platform to deliver that knowledge and so the platform allows any kind of content to be delivered and pushed to employees instantly, in that case, the active shooter case and so Bloomingdale’s has created microlearning modules, put them on that platform and then that is the platform that Bloomingdale’s associates access daily for learning and so the instant they got on, they saw that active shooter module that was simply turned on. It had been created, was pending in the background and then can be deployed and turned on instantly, literally like turning on a switch.

 

Alec:   

Oh, okay. Okay, great, thank you. We have another question here and they asked, did this microlearning approach replace their new hire training or just shorten and focus it?

 

Carol Leaman:

Both, so it is, sorry, it’d be the latter. It did allow them to highly focus content and so they still, Bloomingdale’s still does foundational training so some introductory training, it’s the case and this is true, Bloomingdale’s and other sorts of work environments, it’s almost impossible to hire somebody and simply put them on the job and expect them to know for example, how to use a cash register. You do need to lay a foundation information but you can make it very, very specific and condensed and then they use the microlearning approach to reinforce the key learning concepts ongoing until that associate has demonstrated that they know exactly that information.

 

Alec:   

Al right so we have another one and you may have touched on this. I’m not 100% sure but we have a question that asked, what do the people use their accrued points for?

 

Carol Leaman: 

In the case of Bloomingdale’s, they upload to the rewards part of the platform, all kinds of neat prizes and so they were gift cards like for example, ice cream gift cards or cupcake gift cards and here’s a short little story. They don’t need to be, and in Bloomingdale’s case, they aren’t vastly highly monetary type items. They had an associate who was on every single day, accumulating quite a number of points and bidding on the cupcake gift card. She acquired quite a few of those gift cards and loved the ability to walk around and hand them out to people that she worked with so she felt really, really good about that. They upload whatever they want. It can be things like gift cards, it can be merchandise, it can be for example, and I’m not saying Bloomingdale’s does this but it could be nonmonetary related things as well like half day off work or lunch with a manager, that sort of thing. It really it does vary and really goes to whatever they believe will be an incentive to the employee group to get on and do some learning voluntarily.

 

Alec:   

Okay. We have another question here. This one asks, they have a comment first that this is really great to see and thank you for sharing but they want to know, what experience do you have with using microlearning for leadership development concepts, for example, how to give effective feedback.

 

Carol Leaman: 

I can tell you that we actually use exactly the same thing here and there are a variety of leadership type topics that you can approach. It’s a really great question because people often assume that the types of knowledge you can deliver through microlearning need to be very factual or procedural type information. The reality is, so here’s another example, more retail, which is a consultancy in New York that trains many of the retailers leadership team on leadership concepts, uses the Axonify platform to do just that. They chunk down their in classroom based training into core concepts and then reinforce those leadership concepts ongoing with those retail leaders so you can create questions that are very effective at driving at behavioral type things.

For example, you could have a scenario based question where you are asking a leader about how to appropriately address a performance issue with one of their direct reports and give them choices around how they would address that issue or how do you give feedback to an individual in this situation, would you do this, this or this? What’s the appropriate response? In fact, it is totally achievable to take more skills based concepts in any area, leadership being one and more retail is doing that in a really effective way with the retail leaders that they train.

 

Alec:       

Okay. We have a question here from another attendee. They asked, how did you market the microlearning programs?

 

Carol Leaman: 

I’m not sure, like within Bloomingdale’s to other, or just generally more like microlearning? I’m not entirely sure.

 

Alec: 

I think this is more of a general. I think this is more general, how do you market the microlearning programs?

 

Carol Leaman: 

Basically microlearning from how do you market it, is the next generation of the way companies really need to figure out how to train people so it’s simply the case, it really goes back to what I said at the outset, where you’ve got employees who in today’s work environment are demanding knowledge and they’re demanding a way to get that knowledge that is accessible to them when they need it and so it’s simply the case that in marketing microlearning, it is a marriage between what’s available and possible with what employees are demanding. When they have choices about where to go work and very much different generation today, especially with millennials who in fact expect their employers to make them better people in a lot of cases and give them a career path, make them more knowledgeable, a top performers and actively help them do that, microlearning is a mechanism that helps to achieve that outcome.

From a marketing perspective, it really does address learning in today’s modern environment and so it is getting away from the old mindset of one and done and unfortunately, all of the things that go with that so it addresses all of those downfalls I guess of traditional learning.

 

Alec:   

All right. We have another question. As far as access, are employees using their own devices or devices provided, and how long is training access supported in policies such as off hours access or bring your own device information security?

 

Carol Leaman:

I’m going to answer the question more generally. It really does depend on the employer. There are certain retailers who will allow employees to bring their own devices and others who do not and so make it accessible on point of sale terminals or in break rooms on a central terminal. It really does depend on the environment and what’s allowable. I can tell you that there is a major retailer in the U.S. whose employees have been told not to use it off hours but who find a significant number accessing on the bus on the way home, on the train on the way home or in the evening when they have three minutes because they want to, they want to learn, they want to get the points, they want to get through those training sessions. There are other companies who can just simply turn off access when it’s not on a working hour basis so it really depends on the environment, what you want and so it’s really a choice that you make.

 

Alec:         

All right, great, thank you. We have one question here about the Axonify platform. They ask, is the Axonify platform part of an LMS, in parallel to LMS’s or can it be combined with LMS’s like success factors?

 

Carol Leaman:

Axonify can integrate with any LMS. It can be used stand alone or it can, so it’s not a part of an LMS in that respect. It can be integrated or it can stand alone and deliver up front content as well so really just depends on what you want to use it for. If it’s not delivery of introductory training or compliance training and it’s simply there to reinforce existing LMS content, entirely possible. Again it just depends on the environment that you have and if you want to redeploy and get the best use out of LMS content, then you can do that quite easily.

 

Alec:     

All right, we’re actually getting quite a few here on Axonify so we’ll get another one. Does Axonify allow the ability to upload HTML5 templates or games that have been developed in house?

 

Carol Leaman:

We are HTML5 architected. We have a software developer kit actually that allows anybody independently to build games in the platform and there are typically 50 plus games on the platform at anytime, they need to be built in respect of our specifications so there is some information that you can find on the website if you’re interested in uploading games so they just need to be architected in a way that we can look into the end point and ingest the game properly and then attach the learning inside the game.

 

Alec:   

All right. We have a question, how long was the program running in Bloomingdale’s and have you experienced yourself any microlearning fatigue?

 

Carol Leaman:   

The program at Bloomingdale’s and I would say every other retailer that uses it, never stopped. It turns out that particularly in high turnover environments, you don’t keep employees around long enough, unfortunately, in many cases to get through all the content that’s possible to reinforce to them so it just never stops because turnover never stops and as it turns out, the numbers of things that you can convey to employees that are important to them to know, range from a quick little 30 second video from the CEO every day, the instant the employee gets on saying, hey, this is Carol and I want you to know that this week, we have some exciting stuff going on at Bloomingdale’s. You can do that. To make it interesting again, every day, and also things like changes happen all the time so you want employees to be on top of sales, on top of issues that have arisen in one store that you want to instantly convey to other stores or create a new procedure around. In our experience, learning never ends. It’s always ongoing and you can always find new and interesting things to to train people on.

 

Alec:       

Okay. This person asked, this attendee asked, is this approach easier with a large homogenous group with the same job role and how would this work for many job types?

 

Carol Leaman: 

No. In fact, it worked, there are lots of companies who have oh gosh, hundreds of groups on Axonify that have different job titles, locations, various topics that are of strategic importance to them. It’s a drag and drop, literally drag and drop type of configuration where you grab the job title, you grab the line of business, you grab the location and attach it to a program that contains content and it is incredibly simple to configure that way, unlimited number of groups, job titles, however you want to configure your learners. As one example, there is a retailer, biggest retailer in Australia, that has 100,000 people and as you can imagine, those people are dispersed across many, many levels of knowledge, tenure with the company, job titles, locations, you name it.

 

Alec:       

Okay. This next attendee asked, how would this microlearning approach apply to technical certification training? For example, Microsoft Office, programming, that are typically delivered via 30 to 60 minute online courses?

 

Carol Leaman: 

Yeah, so typically in a scenario like that and there are companies doing exactly that, GE being one of them in the areas IT related topics, who do deliver that foundational training and then simply use a microlearning approach. We call it Axonifying your content, where you chunk it down using best practices that we have into those microlearning elements and then deliver it through the reinforcement engine. There are best practices around how to take that foundational video or learning and create highly targeted topic module in an area that a one topic is typically eight to 10 key learning points that you can use then to reinforce that hours worth of learning and measure what people know and don’t know so that if you have to go back and know, and replay that video, you can if you want to do that.

 

Alec:     

All right, great so this one we have, it’s kind of a larger concepts. Any recommendations or lessons learned on change management, for example, moving from an old school corporate learning culture to a modernized one? Some employees themselves are resistant to change and how do you support tech, tech adverse or less tech savvy employees?

 

Carol Leaman: 

That’s a great question and we are encountering that much more frequently now as companies are moving into the modern age and so we have a very, I won’t get into the details here, obviously, but a very well defined approach to completely reimagining how you rearchitect your learning function both notionally and then practically in the environment. It really is a case of, you don’t just throw all kinds of stuff out and try to change everything. There is a process around change management that involves buy in and then a step by step approach to changing mindsets and then a progression through things like changing technology so that you can really start to get your footprint, get some traction and in our experience, once employees start to use it, there is this tremendous ground swell of desire on the part of the employees who don’t have it and it is quite interesting to see the mindset of what I would call laggard who perhaps aren’t thinking as forward as others and don’t believe, for example that game mechanics work for anybody or should.

The other interesting thing we’ve discovered with the data is that age of the individual learner is not a barrier. It in fact is the case that women over 40 are the fastest growing segment of gamers in North America and there are lots of generations within the workplace who love the approach and the reason is, it’s happening in real life so this is not something new and different for them and people are surprised in fact, at the reception, the receptivity to a new approach because the old approach is so incredibly boring and ineffective.

 

Alec:     

Okay, well, we have time for about one more and I’m going to combine a couple here, both are about Axonify. The first, is Axonify priced on a per employee basis or per year basis and in addition to that, does Axonify have any off the shelf microlearning or is it all custom?

 

Carol Leaman: 

It is a per employee, it’s per month basis and scales with volume and a variety of other things and in terms of off the shelf content, depending on what the topic area is, we do have some standard libraries. What we’ve discovered is most of our customers have very specific procedures, very specific language and terminology that they use but we do have lots, so we often enable our customers very quickly to change into microlearning and move to Axonifying their content and we can do it very rapidly through understanding very similar content with other people, if a customer wants us to do that.

 

Alec:   

Okay, Carol, that is unfortunately all the time we have today. We still have a lot of questions in the queue but we want to be respectful of everybody’s time. I want to thank you for that great presentation and thank you today to our sponsors at Axonify, but mostly thanks to all of you in the audience for your participation. For those of you who have asked, you can find materials from today’s event and all other Chief Learning Officer webinars at www.clomedia.com or click on the CLO icon at the bottom of your screen. If you enjoyed today’s presentation, please take a moment to fill out our post event survey, which will appear after this webinar ends. Your feedback is very important to us and will help us improve our future webinars.

Thank you once more to our attendees around the world. We’ll see you all back here on Thursday, July 28, 2016 at 2 p.m. Eastern, 11 a.m. Pacific, for our next CLO webinar, Why We Must Embrace the Consumerization of Learning. Have a great day everybody.

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