Colleen Holmes Learning & Development: “With iSpring, we’ve tripled our learner base and continue to grow.”
Colleen Holmes is a professional trainer who has years of experience running a training business in Ireland and Australia, as well as working as the head of learning in a number of organizations. Located in Cairns, Queensland, her small business is focused on delivering literacy and employability training for those who didn’t find traditional education the correct fit for them.
From Colleen’s success story, you’ll learn how iSpring can help emerging training companies scale up their online learning and grow.
This particular business (Colleen Holmes Learning & Development) is about three years old. We train people who are seeking employment or wish to progress where they work — specifically those with literacy challenges. Our audience consists of early school leavers, Indigenous Australians for whom English is not their first language, emigrants, and other adult learners who once were disengaged, but now want to get a job despite the odds being stacked against them.
We are currently working with government departments, charitable organizations, social services, employment providers, and Registered Training Organizations (RTOs). We facilitate a blended approach – online learning, face-to-face workshops, and webinars, and also provide one-on-one learning. Sometimes, we have several batches of learners at the same time and our company continues to expand.
I am responsible for all content development and designing and creating all materials. I’m currently training another person in the business to be able to develop our training materials as we grow and scale up.
Prior to iSpring, we used to rely heavily on face-to-face training and manual hard copy resources. I was not new to online training, and we had previous experience with eLearning both as learners and as instructional designers. We used other platforms in the past, but for this new business, we needed to reinvent our approach and reimagine the way we train our learners.
The Challenge: Facilitate the unique training method and strengthen the business with eLearning
COVID-19 impacted our business initially as we launched our new eLearning product at the same time that the pandemic began. This coincided with our plan to transfer a part of our training into an eLearning format to make it more current and keep up with the times.
Our method of facilitating learning is a little different, and we believed eLearning would complement it greatly. Plus, we expected to use eLearning to expand the digital skills of our adult learners.
We have always used digital devices and software to create engaging content for hard copies. So, we were not afraid to test various solutions, but prioritized efficiency and a clear interface. As many of our learners are based in remote indigenous communities, we needed to ensure ease in taking our courses.
We also needed to be aware of our clients’ purchasing power and ensure that what we requested was affordable to all.
Basically, our objectives were as follows:
- Make learning easy, clear, understandable, and sought out;
- Engage learners at extremely different levels of competence;
- Develop a desire to do more learning.
The Solution – iSpring
Back then, we were developing a learning platform for a client and needed high-quality imagery for its design. We found a number of suppliers and liked iSpring’s visuals and characters the most. When we decided to develop our own eLearning platform (Skills Explorer®™), we immediately opted for iSpring Suite and its characters as our first option. Then we progressed to using iSpring Learn and switched to it from another LMS.
We compared iSpring with five other providers and even chose one, then later moved from that choice to iSpring.
We did have providers offering a ‘better price,’ but we feel we get value commensurate with the money spent.
We evaluated all providers in terms of reporting systems, support, and customer service – and we believe iSpring was the best decision for us.
Currently, we use iSpring Max Suite, iSpring Learn, and iSpring Course Library added to the LMS.
Creating fresh looking micro courses in iSpring Suite
We primarily develop short learning bites for microlearning. Given that our learners may have learning barriers in relation to attention and focus, we work on providing short learning bursts. It takes about four hours for us to create one hour of learning, as we need to ensure that the learning outcomes are intrinsic in the design.
We ensure that the learning outcomes are intrinsic in the design of the courses.
Although we offer non-accredited learning resources, we review the qualification that relates to our topic. We use employability skills as our base, identify the relative key learning points and then consider the character images and backgrounds. And we really like the visuals, backgrounds, and the clean look of the layout.
Usually, we create slide decks using the iSpring templates. Next, we identify which types of knowledge checks will suit the course best and help to determine whether the expected learning outcome has been achieved. We limit the use of audio, video, and imagery that is too stylized – we want to keep it ‘real’!
Populating learning materials with relatable characters
It is essential for us not to overload learners and to maintain the clarity of the materials. We believe that learners’ ‘connection’ with the images is an important part of fulfilling their needs.
We value the diversity of the characters too, as we work with such a wide range of backgrounds from many parts of the world. We think the characters are very real and relatable; they allow us to contextualize the learning material and meet employment needs more thoroughly.
Once created, all courses go through trials to evaluate their general look and feel, and then their functionality. Next, we perform a review and make adjustments, then we publish courses and undertake a final round of adjustments. When the content is ready, we assign it to our learners in iSpring Learn.
Delivering customized training in iSpring Learn
We deliver learning based specifically on the needs of the person – and we also customize it where that makes sense. Our clients approach us to elaborate a learning plan and develop the project, and then we sign their cohort up in iSpring Learn.
Here, we run a pre-assessment of their skills based on literacy, knowledge of the topic, and the intended employment path. We particularly like the reporting feature – reports from iSpring Learn suit our needs and clearly show individual progress in specific areas of literacy. Turnaround time on reports is also very short.
Our participants get learning assignments daily. They love the look of the platform and the ease of use it provides. As we offer prizes to the most diligent learners, they like the leaderboard too!
We’ve uploaded 150 micro courses to iSpring Learn to date and have another 300 in the pipeline. Course production time has become efficient, and our audience has grown. We observe that our reaction time is now quicker, i.e., if a client needs some contextualization, we can provide it in a shorter timeframe. We also estimate that 80% of the training we deliver now is online.
We found iSpring’s customer service to be excellent!
We started as a very small concept and now have a full-time employee with a view toward employing two more in the next twelve months. Our learner base has tripled and will grow more in the coming year.
We believe we have a great product and we get great feedback from clients, stakeholders, and learners. All of our clients are repeat customers, and our learners often ask us to help other family members.
As a training business, we have a very different approach and prioritize learner engagement, as many of our learners had very poor engagement in traditional education. We now have a number of strategies that we employ as our differential for engagement, and we have had great results, due in part to the iSpring software.