Learning technology refers to the broad range of digital tools and solutions used to enable and enhance training, education, and development. As learners and institutions continue embracing online and technology-driven instruction, the global e-learning market has ballooned to over $250 billion.
Integrating the optimal modern learning technologies has become essential for schools, universities, businesses, government agencies and other organizations seeking to create engaging and effective educational experiences.
Some major types of learning technology include: learning management systems (LMS), mobile apps, augmented/virtual reality simulations, adaptive e-learning platforms, artificial intelligence applications, and more. Key benefits of properly implemented learning technology include convenience, personalized learning paths, interactive multimedia content, data-driven insights into learner performance, and the flexibility to enable both self-paced and collaborative learning models.
How can innovation be applied to learning assessments and management? Believe it or not, there is a solution for it, supplied by forward-thinking tech company TestReach.
For this week’s Business Leaders episode, ProfileTree welcomed Sheena Bailey, CEO of TestReach, to hear about her career as a tech leader and the innovative work of her company.
To find out more, watch our full interview below, or read on for the highlights.
Table of Contents
Sheena’s Journey to TestReach Success
Sheena, who is now TestReach Co-Founder and CEO, found herself a little lost when it came to what career route to go down.
“My background goes from Business Studies at Trinity College Dublin, a long time ago now. I came out of there still not knowing what I wanted to do, I think I had dreams of becoming a literary agent or something along those lines.
She explains her path to becoming part of the tech world, and creating a business that is at the cutting edge of learning technology.
“I fell into the technology world and found a really good spot for myself there. I focused very much on learning assessment and management solutions.”
Working in this unprecedented role helped Sheena and her Co-Founder realise the learning management sector had a problem that needed to be solved.
“That’s where myself and my Co-Founder came up with the idea for TestReach, we were very much in that learning space and we saw a gap in the market.”
Sheena explains that the way online learners had been receiving their qualification at the end of a course was ripe for innovation.
“Typically, at the end of an e-learning course, you would be told to go to some test centre which may be in the next city, it may be in the next country or even the next continent.
“You might have to sit down at a rickety old computer or, in many cases, with a pen and paper for three hours to achieve that qualification.
“TestReach was founded to address that problem, to be able to provide high-stake exams at a scalable, global level.”
Now, the company provides customers with innovative technology to remove the strain, logistical headaches and expense of running face-to-face exams.
As Sheena states, the demand for her company’s easily accessible services is higher than it’s ever been.
“The demand for global qualifications has never been higher. People want qualifications, because qualifications equals wages. Learning management solutions are very good at delivering knowledge at scale.”
What Does TestReach Offer?
TestReach is a leader in online assessment software. It is a cloud-based solution used to create, deliver and mark any type of assessment, from formative tests through to high-stake formal exams. Going into more detail, Sheena explains the inner workings of TestReach.
“What we offer is a full assessment solution. You can create an author, your questions, your tests – everything from simple multiple choice questions right through it spreadsheets or video recordings, then you can deliver them in a variety of ways.”
The TestReach package aims to provide a unique solution that is easily accessible, navigated and monitored. This differentiates the company from other competitors in the market, making them a firm favourite in the industry.
“I guess what a lot of customers love is our remote invigilation solution. At the flick of a switch, an examiner can decide if an exam is going to be delivered by remote invigilation.
“Essentially, we watch the candidates in real-time over the web as they take their exam, through audio, video and screen capture.”
What customers look for in systems such as TestReach is authenticity and security, according to Sheena.
“This surrounds the security of the actual exam environment, and the authenticity surrounding ‘is the candidate who is sitting that exam actually who they say they are’.
“Because we do remote and real-time, we monitor candidates from the beginning to the end and ensure all of that for our customers.”
TestReach on Going Global
When a business finds its USP – the main goal is to market globally.
In our interview, Sheena discusses how she approached the task of building a global client list for TestReach.
“We literally deliver exams in every corner of the world, across all of the continents. We’re business to business, that’s what we do, so we know who are customers are.
“When you know who your customers are it’s a little bit easier to reach them. We very much focus our marketing efforts on our core markets, and we’re able to do a lot of very dedicated web campaigns for reaching out to the people we want to talk to.”
Sheena dedicates TestReach’s success to not just focusing on the company’s USP, but always having their customer at the forefront of her mind.
“One of the reasons I think we have been very successful is because we are very much focused on our customer. We partner with them and we truly believe in helping them.
“The other side of it is we bring very simple technology, but it addresses the real concerns that our customers have, so that’s where I think our success has come from.”
How Does TestReach Ensure High Quality?
Innovation extends beyond a good idea. It is about the full package that is being created and how it is delivered. Sheena explains how TechReach ensures high quality that keeps them competitive and ahead in the market.
“We provide all invigilation ourselves, while other providers use third parties. We do everything in-house. We have support, training and quality structures and also the technology.”
This high quality benefits not just the customers implementing their services – but the people who are using the service to sit their exams.
“For the majority of people, examinations are intimidating. It is really important that they are put at their ease and are given a good experience when taking their exams. We can provide that level of quality in our service to ensure both parties are happy.”
Business Startup Advice From Sheena
Trusting your gut instincts when starting up a business can get you far, but getting advice from a global giant can help get you even further.
Sheena advises basing strategies and decisions around the customer first and foremost.
“In terms of looking at your business, it is all about knowing your customer. Really understanding their drivers – where they want to spend their money, what problems they want to solve, whether they are willing to put their money behind solving their problem. These are the absolute core, then you can build your strategy around that.
“Then it comes down to whether your product meets that expectation. Then it comes down to doing things well.
“I think it is essential to have goals. We have a five-year plan and we align everyone to that.”
For more information about learning technology solutions and Sheena’s work, see our full Business Leaders interview. You can also discover more about TestReach’s solutions and services here.
Taming the Management Beast: How Learning Technology Conquers Common Challenges
Modern management is a multi-headed hydra, demanding skilled leadership, strong talent management, clear communication, and decisive action. But fear not, brave managers! In this digital age, learning technology wields a mighty sword, ready to cleave through common management challenges and unlock your team’s true potential. Let’s explore how:
1. Forging Strong Leaders:
- Leadership development programs: Online courses, video simulations, and personalized coaching modules can hone leadership skills like delegation, motivation, and strategic thinking.
- Mentorship platforms: Connect new leaders with experienced veterans through virtual mentoring programs, fostering knowledge sharing and guidance.
- Peer feedback tools: Encourage ongoing feedback and development through anonymous surveys and 360-degree evaluation platforms, building self-awareness and adaptability.
2. Nurturing Talent, Blooming Potential:
- Targeted on-the-job training: Microlearning modules and adaptive learning platforms deliver bite-sized training customized to individual roles and skill gaps, ensuring quick upskilling and improved performance.
- Succession planning tools: Identify and groom high-potential employees through assessment tools, personalized learning paths, and leadership development opportunities.
- Gamified learning: Make skill development engaging and interactive with gamified learning platforms, boosting motivation and knowledge retention.
3. Bridging the Communication Gap:
- Collaborative learning platforms: Foster team communication and knowledge sharing through online wikis, forums, and project management tools.
- Virtual communication training: Improve presentation skills, active listening, and conflict resolution through interactive simulations and role-playing exercises.
- Feedback channels: Open up anonymous feedback avenues through pulse surveys and suggestion boxes, encouraging open communication and addressing concerns.
4. Sharpening Decision-Making Blades:
- Data-driven analysis tools: Empower managers with data visualization dashboards and reporting tools to analyze team performance, identify trends, and make informed decisions.
- Scenario-based simulations: Test decision-making skills in simulated environments, allowing managers to practice navigating complex situations and learn from potential mistakes without real-world consequences.
- Expert knowledge databases: Create internal knowledge repositories, housing best practices, case studies, and industry insights to guide decision-making and problem-solving.
Real-World Transformations: Showcasing Learning Tech Success Stories
Theory is great, but real-world examples ignite imagination! Let’s see how learning technology has fueled management success in other organizations:
Case Study 1: Vodafone – Upskilling for a Digital Future
Facing a rapidly digitalizing landscape, Vodafone UK knew their managers needed a tech refresh. Their solution? An innovative learning platform with personalized learning paths focused on digital marketing, data analysis, and agile leadership. The results?
- 20% increase in managers’ digital confidence
- 15% boost in customer satisfaction and engagement
- Improved communication and collaboration across teams
Vodafone’s story proves that equipping managers with the right learning tools can drive digital competence and boost overall business performance.
Testimonial: “The platform empowered our managers to take ownership of their learning journey. They embraced the gamified modules and interactive simulations, and the impact on their confidence and decision-making was remarkable.” – Sarah Jones, Head of Talent Development, Vodafone UK
Actionable Strategies for Your Team:
- Identify key management skills gaps: Conduct team assessments or individual skill evaluations to pinpoint areas where learning technology can offer the most impact.
- Choose the right platform: Research learning platforms aligned with your budget, target skills, and preferred learning styles (e.g., visual, auditory, kinesthetic).
- Get buy-in and champion engagement: Encourage active participation by setting clear goals, gamifying learning modules, and providing ongoing support and feedback.
- Curate high-quality content: Don’t settle for generic courses. Build or invest in content tailored to your specific industry, challenges, and organizational culture.
- Measure and celebrate success: Track progress through learning reports, performance metrics, and feedback surveys. Recognizing improvement fuels motivation and showcases the value of learning technology.
Case Study 2: DHL – Cultivating Leadership from Within
DHL recognized the need to nurture potential leaders from within their existing workforce. They implemented a leadership development program with online modules, personalized coaching, and peer mentoring opportunities. The program yielded:
- 30% increase in internal promotions to leadership roles
- Reduced external leadership hiring costs by 25%
- Improved employee engagement and morale
DHL’s initiative demonstrates how learning technology can cultivate a strong bench of leaders, nurture internal talent, and boost cost-efficiency.
Testimonial: “We saw a transformation in our team members. After completing the program, they approached challenges with increased confidence, took ownership of projects, and inspired their colleagues. It’s been a game-changer for both leadership development and talent retention.” – David Miller, HR Director, DHL
Quantifying the Impact: Data-Driven Benefits of Learning Technology for Management
Investing in learning technology for your managers isn’t just about fuzzy feelings – it’s about driving measurable business improvement. Let’s arm you with the data-powered ammunition to showcase the concrete benefits:
1. Employee Retention and Engagement:
- 70% of employees who feel their company invests in their development are more likely to stay (SHRM, 2023).
- 53% of millennials consider learning and development opportunities a top factor when choosing an employer (LinkedIn, 2022).
- Implementing learning technology leads to 12% higher employee engagement (Bersin by Deloitte, 2018).
2. Productivity and Performance:
- Companies that invest in employee training see a 24% increase in profit (ATD, 2018).
- 21% improvement in job satisfaction and 33% higher profit margins are observed in organizations with strong learning cultures (Gallup, 2017).
- Managers trained on new skills experience a 15% improvement in team performance (CIPD, 2019).
3. Leadership Development and Talent Management:
- 72% of organizations using online learning for leadership development report improved leadership skills (Brandon Hall Group, 2020).
- 30% increase in internal promotions to leadership roles with strategic leadership development programs (Case study: DHL).
- 20% boost in managers’ digital confidence and 15% improvement in customer satisfaction through targeted upskilling (Case study: Vodafone).
4. Cost-Effectiveness and ROI:
- E-learning can reduce training costs by up to 50% compared to traditional methods (ATD, 2018).
- 21% reduction in healthcare costs and 27% decrease in absenteeism observed in companies with comprehensive wellness programs (Cigna, 2023).
- Reduced external leadership hiring costs by 25% through internal leadership development programs (Case study: DHL).
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much does learning technology for management cost?
A: Costs can vary depending on the features, platform type, and number of users. However, many platforms offer subscription-based models with flexible pricing options to fit different budgets. Consider the potential ROI (return on investment) from increased productivity, retention, and performance when evaluating cost.
Q: Is learning technology enough to improve my management skills?
A: While learning technology is a valuable tool, it’s not a magic bullet. Effective management development also requires dedication, practice, and real-world application of your acquired knowledge. Seek opportunities for mentorship, leadership development programs, and continuous learning beyond the platform.
Q: How can I convince my organization to invest in learning technology?
A: Focus on the data-driven benefits! Share research on increased productivity, employee engagement, and ROI. Consider conducting a pilot program to showcase the positive impact firsthand. Demonstrate your own commitment to learning and upskilling as a manager to motivate others.
Q: Where can I find more resources on learning technology for management?
A: Numerous resources are available, including:
- Industry associations like SHRM and ATD
- Learning technology vendors and platforms
- Online publications and forums focused on learning and development
- Books and articles on management development and leadership
In today’s dynamic business landscape, effective management is more crucial than ever. Learning technology offers a powerful tool to equip your managers with the skills, knowledge, and confidence they need to thrive. By leveraging data-driven insights, real-world examples, and actionable strategies, you can unlock the immense potential of this technology and propel your organization towards growth and success.
Remember, investing in your managers’ development is not just a cost, it’s an investment in the future of your team and your entire company. Embrace the opportunities that learning technology presents, and embark on a journey of continuous learning and leadership excellence together.
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