Tom Hilgart, CNA’s vice president for knowledge and learning, looked at the problem and saw a major challenge. If the company used traditional instructor-led training techniques, a small team of experts would have to travel all over the world for nearly six months, and the total cost would be more than $1.5 million. If the team was lucky, they could finish in time for next year’s performance plans—but a big risk was whether they could develop the materials and roll out the program in time.
CNA’s experience with e-learning was mixed. Some of its e-learning programs suffered from low enrollment rates. For this particular program, completion was essential—yet the audience was large and spread around the world. How could CNA use technology to drive high levels of engagement, completion and real learning results?
CNA solved this problem with a unique blended-learning solution. With the help of a new software solution from a business partner, CNA created an eCampus. The eCampus, developed and hosted by Collaboration Architects and linked to its Docent learning management system, links together content from Ninth House, internally developed content and chat areas where managers can learn together in a “virtual” class.
This unique blended solution combines learners into groups of 30 to 40 students, who follow the program together. These students share exercises, grade each other’s work and chat together online. Each group (called a “cadre”) has a coach. Coaches, who are part of CNA’s training organization, have tools in eCampus that help them facilitate many groups easily.
The eCampus interface makes it easy for learners to see the entire program curriculum graphically. This graphical representation, coupled with a very easy-to-use interface, gives students access to courseware, exercises, other students and coaches online. One of the major goals of this system is to give students a “one-click” interface to any learning activity.
By carefully architecting this blended-learning solution, CNA rolled out a complete competency-based program to 2,300 managers around the world in less than six months. Instead of creating awareness and compliance, CNA created true proficiency.
“This program far exceeded our expectations,” said Hilgart. “We rolled out this important management training in six weeks for less than $200 per student. And through our exercises and coaching processes, we created a true mastery-level program. We are now extending this blended-learning approach to all of our leadership education.”
In the latest programs, CNA has added an online knowledge database, frequently asked questions and other support tools to make the system even more dynamic. The system even includes case studies, which help learners see how others in the organization have solved similar leadership challenges.
Lesson learned: In leadership training where e-learning alone may fail, blended learning really works. By integrating different content types, collaboration, exercises and small-group culture, CNA has developed a blended-learning model that drives mastery. CNA’s focus on the entire learning process enabled the company to create an effective blended model for leadership training, which others can learn from.