From ILT to Online: Implementing a Large-Scale Project
Making the move from instructor-led training to eLearning can be a massive undertaking but as our guests David Grodzicki and Jared Morgan from StoneX explain, having a learning strategy based on tried-and-true techniques is half the battle.
David Grodzicki and Jared Morgan share their journey launching the StoneX eLearning Risk Management Academy and offer advice for other learning leaders embarking on a large-scale learning project. These takeaways emphasize the importance of careful planning, collaboration with SMEs, and taking a learner-centric approach when converting instructor-led training to an online format.
- Importance of Learning Objectives: Creating clear and performance-based learning objectives is essential for the success of any eLearning project. They guide the content development process and help in assessing the effectiveness of the training.
- Involvement of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs): Collaborating closely with SMEs is crucial for gathering domain-specific knowledge and ensuring the accuracy and relevance of the content. It's essential to respect their expertise while also gently guiding them towards effective eLearning content.
- Diverse Instructional Methods: Employing a variety of instructional methods, such as animated scenarios, SME videos, gamification, and interactive elements, can enhance engagement and learning outcomes for online learners. These methods help create a dynamic and engaging learning experience.
- Beginning with the End in Mind: Starting the project with a clear vision of the desired learning outcomes and the needs of the target audience is critical. Taking the time to plan and strategize in the early stages can prevent issues and rework later in the project.
- Continued Support and Engagement: After launching an eLearning program, it's important to provide ongoing support and opportunities for learners to ask questions, seek clarification, and further enhance their knowledge. This ensures that learners can fully benefit from the training.
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Susan Cort: [00:00:00]
Proper planning upfront can pay huge dividends for your learners and your organization.
David: You already have your learning object written, so it can save a lot of time when it gets to the point where you're trying to assess learning. And so, I know a lot of people do skip this part of it. They just sort of do it informally during the design cycle. But that's another area where the more time you spend up front identifying, the faster it's going to be for you to turn around the things that you need to in the end.
That’s David Grodzicki, Training Manager - Customer Engagement at StoneX Group. David and Jared Morgan, VP Global Education for Stonex Financial, share a case study on the StoneX eLearning Risk Management Academy. Their lessons learned will help set you up for success on your training projects. Next on Powered by Learning.
Susan Cort: Joining me today is Jenny Fedullo, d'Vinci's Director, Learning Experience, and our guests, David Grodzicki and Jared Morgan from StoneX. StoneX is an institutional grade financial services network that connects companies, organizations, traders, and investors to the global markets ecosystem across a wide range of commodities.
Susan Cort: . Hello everyone. Hi, hi, David. Hi, Jared. Good to see you. Hi, Jenny. Thanks for having us today. Well, we're excited to talk with you. Let's start out by sharing with our listeners a little bit about your roles at Stone X. David, why don't you start us off?
David Grodzicki: i All right, thanks. And thanks for having us today. My job is to help our clients and our employees use the systems that we use to help our clients trade and get accounts open here.
David Grodzicki: So my background's in learning and development, and so that's what I do. It's pretty fun most days.
Susan Cort: Jared?
Jared Morgan: Hi. My name is Jared [00:01:00] Morgan. I am the Vice President of Global Education for Stonex Financial. And unlike David, my role primarily focuses around prospective clients and current clients. So we provide instructor-led training for those various individuals that need to learn more about the financial tools and services that we provide.
Jenny Fedullo: So great, great, you know, to have you guys. Um, congratulations on the completion of the project. I think it's safe to say we both learned a lot through the process. So for those listening, you know, in a nutshell, what we did together, we converted three of your instructor led courses to an online format and created StoneX eLearning Risk Management Academy.
Jenny Fedullo: We used a micro learning approach, multiple delivery methods, gamification, video scenarios, eLearning, eLearning. SME videos all housed on our custom LMS and shwoo, that, um, sounds so easy, but, but really to, to manage such a large-scale project, we followed a very structured. [00:02:00] Approach d'Vinci's project management life cycle that really started with getting to know your audience.
Jenny Fedullo: We really needed to understand who we were talking to when we were doing this project, and I'm not talking about just identifying your audience by title or role. We created personas to really help understand behaviors and characteristics. Can you talk about from your perspective what that process meant to the project and how it maybe help lay the foundation for the work we did?
David Grodzicki: Sure. This is David. Let me take this one first anyway. Um, I guess what I would say is that it was very valuable to be detailed and to humanize the people who are going through this course here. I would actually suggest for a lot of people that haven't gone through a formal design process around this to make sure that you have to weigh all the variables that you got to look at.
David Grodzicki: Your stakeholders want your work done yesterday. You know, you have a lot of things you have to do. And, you know, especially in these initial phases where it can take a little bit longer, building personas [00:03:00] really is something I would encourage people not to skip because for us, we're a fairly, you know, kind of a mid-sized company here, but we've had a lot of growth over the last several years.
David Grodzicki: And. When we went through this persona exercise, it was really helpful, especially for me, since I did not have the content expertise that Jared did for me to understand, well, who are we actually creating this content for? And as we went through the process of building out these personas, we probably could have had for this project, maybe 15 to 20 personas, which is obviously way too much for the design process.
David Grodzicki: But, uh, for me, that, I guess that's probably what I. What I remember the most about the persona content, it was very helpful for us to think about all the various needs that we had. And as we moved through the design cycle for this course, it was helpful to refer back to those personas that we built. And simply raise the question, well, what would Donna say here?
David Grodzicki: And what would Joe say? You know, because obviously when you start thinking through the needs of each of those groups, they're going to be [00:04:00] different. And, um, so I'd say that's probably what... That was my perspective from it. Yeah, it was really good.
Jenny Fedullo: Yeah, exactly, David. And that's what we did throughout the process is we would look at a particular persona and say, you know, how would this person react to this content?
Jenny Fedullo: Is this going to make sense? Are we doing this the right way? Are we touching, you know, every single persona? So it was great for us to kind of check and balance kind of approach to ensure that we were reaching the audiences we intended to reach.
Jared Morgan: Yeah, one thing I would add to that, too, is it was a valuable exercise, even from the from the perspective of our instructor led training, um, to take a step back and realize that our audience really is evolving as an industry.
Jared Morgan: You know, we have more diversity, um, in these fields than we ever have before. And just kind of anticipating how that continues to play out, um, really You know, shed, shed a light on who we're doing this for and how we need to respect those, uh, different roles [00:05:00] and different personalities as we move forward.
Jenny Fedullo: Indeed. So we also spent a good amount of time on the learning objectives, which is also foundational to the project success. David, your background is certainly in learning, but Jared, I know this was all new for you. Can either one of you talk about that impact of the process and how it contributed to building the program?
David Grodzicki: Right. And I should preface my response by saying this is my least favorite part of the design cycle. But it's the most important. It's probably one of the most important. I know it is. And so we were a little bit different because the instructor led training that we had was, the way it was created was good, but we had to sort of reverse engineer some of these learning objectives to make sure they were suitable for e learning.
David Grodzicki: And in the very beginning for us, it was actually kind of a good but challenging exercise because what we could really identify Identify and articulate was participants need to know dot, dot, dot. And as we all know, that's not a performance based learning objective, you know, [00:06:00] and so We had to work a little bit with our subject matter experts to help refine some of that And so, you know, I don't know not to sit around and be kind of nerdy around some of this stuff but for those people who haven't spent a lot of time dealing with performance based learning objectives probably the Pioneer of them was, uh, or maybe maybe not really the pioneer, but it's what I've always thought of.
David Grodzicki: His name is Robert Mager, and he always said that there's three parts of a performance based objective. The first is that that objective should describe exactly what a learner should be able to do after the training, and that should begin with the verb. So that's how I've always written these out. And then also the conditions, if there are any, that those tasks have to be performed within.
David Grodzicki: And then finally the criteria by which you would evaluate how well that objective was met. And, you know, we had a lot of those that we just had to work through and refine. And I'm sure that we drive the design team crazy trying to work through some of this stuff, um, when we did. But it is really important, [00:07:00] especially for someone like me that I didn't have the content expertise.
David Grodzicki: And, you know, when you're thinking about evaluation. So that was, I'd say from that, that for me, that was an important part of this because, you know, everyone had to be clear and shift it from what do I need to know to what do I need to do as a result of taking this training? And that's once again, where the personas came in very helpful to us because, you know, a person that's a CPA, We'll have a very different need from someone who is like working at a grain elevator or someone who is merchandising something from a dairy farm, for example, find two opposite examples.
David Grodzicki: So that's what I guess I would say. I'm curious to know, Jared, do you have other input or things that you learned throughout the way?
Jared Morgan: David, I learned a ton. Uh, you know, my, my background is in economics. Uh, you know, I, formal learning objectives were, was a completely new concept for me. In fact, uh, before we ever even engaged Da Vinci to help us out with this project, I was talking with David.[00:08:00]
Jared Morgan: Uh, on a meeting and he, he brought up Bloom's Taxonomy and I thought, Oh my God, I, I'm in over, over my head here. And, uh, time to Google that, right? Yeah. I, I kind of wondered if he was just making words up to, to, to play. Yeah.
David Grodzicki: Did you mean taxidermy? Is that what you meant?
Jared Morgan: So, but, uh, you know, the learning objectives were very important.
Jared Morgan: as I came to find throughout this process. And, uh, we did do a lot of work creating those. Um, I, I had the content knowledge very well, and it was kind of refreshing for me throughout this process to see that even though we had not ever formally identified those, we were checking those boxes with the training we'd already.
Jared Morgan: been providing throughout the way. So, um, thanks to David and our friends at Da Vinci. Uh, I learned a significant amount about the process and value of these learning objectives as we did this project.
Jenny Fedullo: You're welcome. It, I mean, it's intense. It's work. I mean, [00:09:00] like, like David said, going through those three, you know, criteria.
Jenny Fedullo: Um, sometimes it's a challenge. You know, you might get through the first two and they say, Wait, how are we going to measure this? Or, you know, did we do this the right way? So it's worked to do it the right way. But it's so critical.
David Grodzicki: It is. And maybe even to add on to that, Jenny, the other thing that it really saved time for us for was once we had those objectives sort of crafted when it came time for us, we We had to create an assessment or an overall certification plan for this content because of part of our marketing plan for this was to allow a person to get continuing education credits for their professional designations and then to have a certification and to do that we needed to have an assessment at the end and those learning objectives are so critical for applying this Bloom's Taxonomy because it's easy to rotate between the areas that you need and hitting the different types of Uh, content that you're measuring through.
David Grodzicki: You already have your learning object written, so it can save a lot of time when it gets to [00:10:00] the point where you're trying to assess learning. And so, I know a lot of people do skip this part of it. They just sort of do it informally during the design cycle. But that's another area where the more time you spend up front identifying, the faster it's going to be for you to turn around the things that you need to in the end.
David Grodzicki: And I think that's probably pretty common knowledge. It just, it seems like it's one of those things as we keep as designers getting more and more pressure to turn around our products more quickly to stakeholders. It's just, you, we know that you have to make some tough decisions sometimes, but this is another one of those areas where.
David Grodzicki: You might pay the price if you decide to cut this too deeply from my perspective. I don't know if you find this to be true as well at d'Vinci, but I certainly have in my work.
Jenny Fedullo: Agreed. Agreed. It, it, it's worth putting in the time and effort to get it right, because like you said, it ties directly to how we're going to measure and write those assessment questions.
Jenny Fedullo: Um, so the, the, the heavy lift is done when you, when it's time to write those assessment questions, if you've done the learning objectives correctly. [00:11:00] Alright, so tell me, what was one of the biggest challenges you faced, um, from your perspective in converting from the instructor led format you were used to, to an online format?
Jared Morgan: Well, I will, uh, take a stab at that first, Jenny. Um, you know, our instructor led training is typically small groups. We try to keep it at 40 people or less. And the reason for that is, is we really like to have a conversation more so than just a lecture. We rely on the individuals to, you know, if we're not explaining something well enough, slow us down and let's take some time to figure it out.
Jared Morgan: And obviously that's not something that we're able to do in this e learning format. So we really had to do a lot of work, you know, not only anticipating the questions that we knew were out there. Um, but just the design of the content, uh, you know, when we were writing out the storyboards. Every word was extremely important and we had to, we put, put a lot of work into making sure that we were checking all our boxes [00:12:00] as we were going through that process.
Jenny Fedullo: Alright, so tell me from your perspective, what was the one of the biggest challenges you faced, um, from your perspective in converting from an instructor led format to an online format?
David Grodzicki: That's an interesting question, actually. So when, when I was thinking about this, the biggest thing that I was concerned about is because we had so many different personas, how are we going to simulate the richness of the conversation that would occur back and forth in a traditional classroom setting?
David Grodzicki: You know, and how, how are we going to anticipate like the questions that people have or how are we going to know whether they are kind of understanding what we're trying to present to them? Yeah. even though we were using as many instructional mediums as we could. So that's what I would say, probably.
David Grodzicki: And, you know, for us, what we had to do is we kind of had to just handle it through the storyboarding process. For the most part, we made sure that we were constantly rotating instructional mediums. But, um, yeah, that's probably what I would say.
David Grodzicki: I don't know, Jared, did you [00:13:00] have some other input on that?
Jared Morgan: Yeah, I mean, I think that's all valid, David. And I tend to agree with you on most everything. You know, as we were storyboarding this course out, it, uh, You know, became apparent to me just how important every word was, and it was a lot bigger job than I anticipated it to be.
Jared Morgan: You know, when we're in our instructor led trainings, usually we keep those groups relatively small between 20 and 40 people. And the reason for that is, is that we can have that conversation. We expect them to slow us down and let us explain something a little better. Um, if we have went over something too fast and that's obviously not an option, uh, with this particular type of format.
Jared Morgan: So, um, there was a lot of care taken to, um, not only anticipate those questions, but make sure that we were presenting stuff in a fashion that, uh, any one of our personas could, you know, perceive as valuable, right? Right.
Jenny Fedullo: All right. I know you all face scrutiny from, from your subject matter experts. I'm sure everyone [00:14:00] listening to this podcast just leaned in as anyone in the industry has had to work with me and we know it, it can be challenging at times. So what issues did you face within your company, uh, working with the subject matter experts and how did you overcome?
Jared Morgan: Yeah, we did have some challenges, David. There's no doubt about that. Um, we were asked by, um, some of our SMEs to provide this course. So they came to us and said that this is something that we need. The industry is looking for it. And we had, uh, four main, uh, brokers that, uh, wanted this, uh, project to continue and.
Jared Morgan: And they all were intending to be, you know, a part of helping us develop it. And we actually had one, uh, drop out on us because they thought we weren't providing enough content. And, uh, we kind of held our ground on that and went back to those learning objectives and tried to explain to them that we were focusing on those learning objectives and we weren't going to provide, um, information that we didn't feel was necessary to [00:15:00] accomplish those learning objectives.
Jared Morgan: And, um, as a result, I think we... Created a very valuable product. Uh, you know, even the one that dropped out, uh, seems to like it now. And we've gotten some really good feedback from, uh, the other three, as well as other stakeholders in the company as well, so.
David Grodzicki: Yeah, I mean, it's kind of a funny story, but I guess I had two things here that hit my mind when Jenny asked this question.
David Grodzicki: I mean, just as an example of what Jared was just talking about, the SME who didn't really want to participate anymore thought that we needed to have at least two hours of training on the history of the Chicago Board of Trade. There was absolutely no performance criteria tied to it. Obviously, that's a massive red flag that we all know, but that just he just he kind of had the impression that we were going to completely screw this project up.
David Grodzicki: And the other thing that we got some significant feedback on is we, we decided ultimately to come up with a creative theme because our content in this [00:16:00] whole program was actually pretty significant. It's going to take a pretty serious amount of time for a participant to actually complete the entire program.
David Grodzicki: And I'll be way more content than I've ever worked on anything before, except for when we did massive, massive system replacements, you know, and the operational training required for that. So we actually had some identified a few things that we were thinking about. Like, do we want to have a theme of exploring?
David Grodzicki: Different areas of a lake or we had to cut several other ideas that we came up with, and ultimately we decided to just use a Google Maps theme where the idea was for for the participant to have to go explore different neighborhoods, and then after they completed that portion of it, they would go to a different city, and it was just a creative way to wrap and bind all the content together for us.
David Grodzicki: And when our subject matter experts saw what we were doing with that, they thought we were making it a little too gamey. as it were, and they thought it was disrespecting the seriousness of the nature of [00:17:00] what it was. But once they actually saw everything fall together, I mean, it really did make a big impact on him.
David Grodzicki: And I definitely agree with you, Jared. I mean, it's actually been one of the more pleasant things, I think, in this project is for us to actually have our subject matter experts take a look at what we ultimately built and then to see the buzz that kind of ensued as a result of it. Would you agree with that?
Jared Morgan: Yes, for sure, without question, uh, that has been very, a very satisfying experience as we, uh, finish up this project.
Susan Cort: And now that they've, now that they've seen how well that can work and this process can work, that probably paves the way for, for more projects in the future and better, even better communication with your SMEs.
David Grodzicki: Yeah, and I, and I think that both you and Jenny are raising a good question around this because, you know, the, the latter part of the question was, well, how did you overcome it? And this is obviously something that it just takes time to figure out, well, what are some best practices here in this? So I can tell you, at least from my experience of things that have worked very well. So it's really important [00:18:00] to. Be sensitive and collaborate with a subject matter expert because they typically care about this as we all know very deeply, right? And they always have a fear that we're going to do exactly what the two hours of the Chicago Board of Trade guy did, that we're just leaving out so much information that it's going to be not helpful to people.
David Grodzicki: And it's hard, you know, do you answer the question? Try to make them a trainer or what do you do? I, at least in my experience, I found it's best to not try to make them a trainer, just be sensitive to what they're doing and appreciate that, you know, that they, they have actually a lot of knowledge and, and just acknowledge that you're hearing them is kind of what I've tried to do a lot of times and then figure out how can you involve your subject matter experts in this whole program?
David Grodzicki: A couple of things that Jared and I did here was we. decided, well, which subject matter experts are really going to be the most influential among their peer group that we needed to get adoption for. And those people who were going to be the most influential, we made sure that we did everything we [00:19:00] could to involve them and, you know, make sure that they would advocate across their peers.
David Grodzicki: And the things that we did specifically for them, or we made them actors in a lot of our role plays and we scripted what they did. And some of the personas that we asked them to adopt, we would actually ask them in some of our simulations to do that. And we also hired a professional camera crew and we took video of a lot of them and we'll kind of talk more about that process.
David Grodzicki: I would imagine here in a little bit anyway, but we identified as many things as we could have them do and involve them in it. And it really paid dividends for us. So that kind of be my, my suggestion around that, Jenny's. That's what we did.
Jenny Fedullo: .
Jenny Fedullo: Yeah, I think I think we these are certainly approaches that we use as well.
Jenny Fedullo: And I think we talked through these. How do we overcome this? Absolutely involve them give them a voice put them on camera include them in the content That's why we have those subject matter expert videos throughout So yeah, you rather than shut them down, you need to figure out how to include them.
Jenny Fedullo: [00:20:00] Absolutely. Yeah. What was the, what was the biggest aha moment? Maybe when you were working through this large scale project and, and this, and this process, obviously with our, with our guidance and, and the structured process we were following any big aha moments that, wow, This makes sense or yep. I get it.
David Grodzicki: Yeah, let me start with this one. I guess. So it's also important to note that when we were when we started working on this project, it was kind of toward the middle of the latter part of the pandemic too. And one thing that we ultimately needed to do because the amount of content was so massive that we were trying to compress in maybe not compress isn't the right word, but to convert to it in online format was That we we needed to spend a little bit of time in a, you know, in a safe way, of course, but with the design teams and so mine's a little bit different maybe than what Jared will say.
David Grodzicki: I'm pretty sure here, but [00:21:00] just having that face to face time was very important to me because it reminded me of the value of the in person and the richness of human interactions. And so while I'm not real sure that that's necessary for a lot of projects that people work on today in our industry, I would say that was For me, that was a good aha, because it's been a little while since we've been around people, to be honest.
David Grodzicki: And, um, you know, we just happen to collaborate quite well together and it's good for building trust. So that's, that was my thought.
Jared Morgan: Yeah, I think that's a good point, David. I hadn't really considered that as an aha moment, but it certainly is. Uh, I think, uh, for me, the, the, where I really saw stuff come together is once we did do, um, the SME video recordings and incorporated that into the lessons.
Jared Morgan: Um, there was times where I was kind of putting mySME hat on during the design of these lessons, thinking, man, there is a lot that we're not, uh, not given them here. But after we did those recordings and embedded those recordings [00:22:00] into the lessons, it really all came together. And I think it's a good testament to how valuable, um, those different mediums that approaches and, um, humanizing the content as well.
Jenny Fedullo: Along those same lines, I know, um, We obviously intentionally used a variety of those methods, and we talked about that through, you know, the process of converting the content. You've got to use those different methods. How do you see your audience, I guess, responding to this approach? You know, the animated scenarios, we just talked about the SME videos, gamification. Um, I know we've talked about your SMEs and how they're reacting. What are you hoping maybe, or what do you, how do you anticipate your audience is going to respond?
Jared Morgan: Great, great question, Jenny.
Jared Morgan: I think our audience is gonna love this content. Uh, you know, I think there's something to be said. So normally when we go out and do these classes, obviously we're reaching a regional audience, so people aren't gonna travel too far to come to our instructor led [00:23:00] trainings and we're asking them that for.
Jared Morgan: two days of their time in most cases, plus travel and plus all that stuff. And as we all know, time is something that is a little hard to come by these days. So, um, there are instances that, uh, people can't attend our instructor led training and their instances, the resources limit them from attending those.
Jared Morgan: And not only that reason, I think, uh, for that reason, obviously this will. You know, fit better and solve that problem for them. But I also think that this is a content that, uh, they can take at their own pace and if there is stuff that they, you know, need to study up on a little bit more, maybe need to spend some more time on to understand they can go back and redo it and we're going to provide a workbook for them as well so they can.
Jared Morgan: Do some extra homework on that. And I think through bringing all of those pieces together, this is going to be something that, that is, you know, widely accepted by the industry. And, and, you know, there really is no comparable product out there in the industry right now. So we [00:24:00] are kind of innovating, um, a new technique for this very isolated industry of grain merchandising.
Jared Morgan: You know, that's a. Um, a fairly small audience across the nation or across the world, for that matter. And, uh, I think this is a great way to get out to some of those people that, uh, But, you know, we wouldn't otherwise reach so well.
Jenny Fedullo: I'm curious. So there's probably a lot of folks listening that have maybe taken the step to convert their, their ILT to maybe a virtual format through Zoom, but haven't quite, you know, Taking taking that jump to literally go online, whether it's a large or small scale project, what advice do you both have, you know, a simple piece of advice for somebody that's listening and saying, you know, I need to, I need to do this.
David Grodzicki: Yeah, I mean, for me, I would say it kind of reminds me of the Stephen Covey principle, begin with the end in mind. And while it seems like it's simple to do, because we always have so many pressures from stakeholders and others [00:25:00] that want us to do everything fast, it just is a real solid investment again the overall success of your project. If you can start thinking through some of those things that aren't, you know, aren't immediately pressing, don't just start jumping into content, make sure that you are actually beginning with the end in mind. And you're thoughtful about some of these things in the beginning. It may take you a little slower to get started, but it will stop you from having to constantly go back and forth and do rework. So that's, that's, I guess what I would say.
Jared Morgan: Yeah, I think that's a good point. David. What I would like to add also is that, uh, you know, creating this course and this content in this fashion is I think is going to provide a tremendous value to both us as a company and also the learners that go through this.
Jared Morgan: But I think it is important that, um, you don't. Finish a project like this and then think that you're done. Send it out there and forget about it. There has to be a method or a means for those attendees to follow up with you, ask questions and make sure [00:26:00] that they are getting all of the value that you have provided them out of this. This training that you're providing,
Susan Cort: Well, and hopefully all the work that you put into this project will, will set the stage for the next projects that you do, because it was such a thoughtful process and, and a great insights that you're sharing with people. So thank you both David and Jared for joining us today.
Jenny Fedullo: Yeah. Thanks, David. Thanks, Jared.
David Grodzicki: Thanks for having us.
David Grodzicki: Thank you.
By Jenny Fedullo, Director, Learning Experience
d'Vinci Interactive is an award-winning comprehensive learning solutions provider for corporate, government, medical, non-profit, and K-12 target markets.