An Educational Program to Help Teenagers Recover from Nicotine Addiction: A Case Study in EdTech

Drug addiction is a severe problem in youth across USA. In fact, prescription drug misuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States. And it intensely affects the lives of teenagers in multiple ways. Substance abuse and problematic patterns of substance use among youth can lead to problems at school, cause or aggravate physical and mental health-related issues, promote poor peer relationships, cause motor-vehicle accidents, and place stress on the family. They can also develop into lifelong issues such as substance dependence, chronic health problems, and social and financial consequences.[1]

As a non-profit organization that aims to transform lives impacted by addiction and substance use through behavioral healthcare solutions, one of Harbinger’s end clients had it on their plan to develop an educational drug recovery program for teenage learners. Their intention was to positively impact the lives of as many teenagers as possible by rolling out the program in multiple schools and colleges to improve its reach. Regarding the program development, the client had two primary requirements – Development of an app and an engaging educational course which would play on that app.

Keeping in mind the preferences and needs of teenage learners, sensitivity around the subject area, and the learning objectives, it was important to get the technology selection and design of the program right. Shared below are some guidelines by the client for each of their development requirements and how Harbinger helped achieve them through its EdTech development capabilities.

  1. App Development

They wanted to set up a drug addiction recovery application (Both web-based and mobile), which would enable individuals to access drug treatment programs based on user modules. Different roles including youth, parents and professionals would use the application. The application would also produce reports and analytics to analyze the impact of each training.

Harbinger studied many environments for their user interface quality, customizability, performance, overall maturity, and durability and finally chose AWS Lightsail environment. We then moved to build the custom web and mobile app for drug recovery. Other essential technology choices that we made were – ReactJS for the responsive web front, React Native for the mobile app, and Laravel Framework to support durability and performance. The app included functionality to give performance-insights to learners in real time. Periodic notifications and customized reports helped in tracking learner progress efficiently.

The below figure represents the solution architecture of the application.

EdTech Solution Architecture

  1. Course Development

In any online educational course, it is important to minimize dropouts and ensure a higher level of engagement for learners, and same was the case here. The client wanted to design an engaging educational experience, which suited teenage learner preferences, based on a 5-stage recovery program. They also wanted to ensure that the program wouldn’t scare the learners away, instead motivate and encourage them to achieve the objective of calling it quits on nicotine.

Harbinger decided to give the teenage learners a Netflix-like user experience. There was chunking of content into smaller modules, as series and episodes. Our designers treated episodes with different instructional and visual design methodologies. Some episodes were made available as comic strips, some as scenarios, some had an inter-conversational interface, while some had gamification components. This built learner interest and ensured engagement to be spot-on. The design of the entire learning program was as a responsive website.

As a result of all the research and efforts that went in, the client could launch a successful drug recovery program that helped improve student outcomes drastically. They were even able to promote this program in schools and colleges, which resulted in the program’s wider reach. Harbinger is very proud of the fact that it has been able to work with the client to meet all desired objectives and contribute to this noble cause of drug recovery. Apart from this particular case, we have also helped many other clients build successful educational technology solutions. To know more about our EdTech expertise or to view a demo of the drug recovery solution, please drop a note to hsinfo@harbingergroup.com.

[1] https://youth.gov/youth-topics/substance-abuse#_ftn

5 Trends That Will Drive the Transformation of EdTech in 2021

Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of technology across various sectors, but the speed at which EdTech advanced is remarkable. Millions of schools switched to remote learning, almost overnight. And it looks like the changes that EdTech has enabled, will continue to influence education even as educational institutes prepare for a full return to classrooms. EdTech is here to stay. With that, let’s look at the 5 trends that will possibly guide the growth of EdTech this year.

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

2020 has been a roller coaster ride for all of us, and this has thrown up a lot of opportunities and imperatives. One such imperative is leveraging AI to build skills for the future. There is a lot of buzz around how workplaces of the future need new skillsets. McKinsey released a report a couple of years back, which states that by 2030, 65% of today’s grade school kids will end up at jobs that haven’t been invented yet, which means they would be entering the job market with a competency gap. AI will play a significant role in this transition. Designing study assistants to identify skill gaps and appropriately recommending the right content to fill those gaps would help. To make this possible, EdTech companies would have to look at both tech and content in new ways to design such solutions.

2. Educator Support

The pace at which educators have had to adapt to tech-driven delivery methodologies in 2020 has been unprecedented. And this is likely to continue with newer technologies coming in. Professional development for online instruction would also help educators to develop online teaching skills. It is also imperative that educators not only have a say in the EdTech product design but also get help through technology support tools. Another consideration is that these tools should be user-friendly; educators should spend more time delivering education than figuring out technology. Quillionz and Raptivity are two good examples of such useful tools. Quillionz helps educators get question ideas and reinforcement points from content (both text and videos), and Raptivity helps educators build pre-class, in-class, and post-class engagement.

3. Digital Transformation

The year 2021 would be a watershed year for this digital transformation for educational institutes. The level of digital transformation might vary from K-12 to higher-ed to skilling platforms. But there is no denying that digital transformation is much more than just providing a Zoom license to get virtual sessions delivered. In addition to using AI and providing educator support, it will also involve creating the entire end-to-end hybrid learning ecosystem to bring about this transformation. 

4. Integrations

Education systems have mostly been working in silos till now. Be it student information systems, learning management systems, student engagement platforms, CRM, attendance systems, or alike, most of these systems operate in isolation. The data that resides in these various systems could help design new experiences if allowed to integrate. For example, suppose a student takes a zoom class. In that case, the attendance system marks their presence automatically, or if the student undertakes an online course, the recommendation engine suggests appropriate learning pathways based on the student’s performance. EdTech products would have to ensure how they seamlessly fit into this ecosystem without adding more administrative work for their customers.

5. Equity in Education

The pandemic has widened the already significant social disparities, and as education and training have shifted online, fears about the ‘digital divide’ have intensified. We are talking about ‘digital inclusion’ and bridging the ‘digital divide.’ Institutions need to find ways to support students as well as educators. Creating asynchronous and offline learning opportunities and not trying to replicate the whole school day online are some strategies that will surely help. Technology will undoubtedly play a significant role in providing ways to do this, but in practicality, all stakeholders need to do their bit to bring equity in education. At Harbinger, we are trying to play our part in bringing equity in education through one of our flagship products – Offline Player. This player allows students to access learning data without internet connectivity. 

Team Harbinger recently hosted a ‘Point of View’ on this topic. The session captures some of the above points in detail. Click here to view the recording of the session.

EdTech tools and technologies have enabled educational institutions to rise to the occasion and make a smooth transition from classrooms to remote learning in 2020. If anything, 2021 will only see it getting bigger and better. As an EdTech provider, are you equipped to handle this enormous growth? What challenges and opportunities do you foresee? Please drop us a note at info@harbingerlearning.com. We would be happy to discuss.  

Rapidly Transforming Organizational Content to Learning Experiences

Imagine taking a customer visit report and creating a case study for sales staff; a video recording of a new product demo meeting converted to product learning nuggets; or a zoom meeting recording converted to best practices of handling challenging situations. These all are examples of organizational content or user-generated content (UGC) which we can transform and use to create unique learning experiences. This content is unique to an organization and apart from just content, it captures an organization’s experiences, preferences, beliefs, and values.

The Need to Create Learning Experiences Rapidly

Learning and development function is today focusing not only on technical skills, but even other critical skills such as leadership development, change management, and more. Learning is no more a bunch of classroom training programs. It is a broader construct encompassing a range of experiences employees encounter in a day’s work. HR and L&D are therefore increasingly concerned with creating learning experiences for content which is unique to their organizations. Today’s organizations capture a swathe of content in information systems, and that too at lightning speed.

The key question then is how can one convert this rapidly generating content into learning experiences? How to create learning experiences at the same speed as content generation? How can we use technology and automation, so that there is minimum lag between the time, say, a new product literature shows up and the time product training is rolled out? Learning technology has evolved to enable L&D to systematically harness and transform content to learning experiences and keep up with the velocity of content generation. Then why is this not happening already?  Where are we falling short? The issue is with the process of content conversion that we have been following traditionally.

Traditional Process of Content Transformation

The below image captures step by step phases of the traditional process of content conversion.

Content Conversion Traditional Process

The traditional process is painfully slow,  due to to some or all of the following reasons:

  • Dependency on subject matter experts for sourcing content
  • No discovery process for newly generated useful content
  • Long time cycles of eLearning production
  • The need for repeated and time-consuming reviews by subject matter experts
  • Time gap between release and consumption of learning content

New High Velocity Process of Content Transformation

If we replace this traditional process, with a new process that for high velocity content transformation, tables will turn.  Here’s how the new process looks like.

Content Conversion Modern Process

The conversion timeline for this new process would be less than a week for the same content that would take 4-6 weeks through the traditional route. Impressive? Isn’t it?

Real-Life Demo of Rapid Content Transformation

We, at Harbinger, have a real-life demo of high velocity content transformation. We have implemented this new process to convert an internal leadership meeting discussion into nudge-learning content. Write to us at info@harbingerlearning.com if you would like to see a demo of that.

Online work is generating a lot of UGC that needs to rapidly reach employees through learning experiences. UGC is an opportunity for L&D to facilitate the curation and transformation of content, as well as the distribution of learning experiences. These experiences, if enabled in the flow of work, can motivate employees to learn something new, perform better, and up-skill themselves, which is what all L&D leaders strive to achieve at the end of the day. Technology, when used effectively, can help transform a lot of this useful content and deliver it in the flow of work, saving time and resources.

Have you been struggling to keep up with the velocity of content generation? Do you have some insights to share? Comment below.

Successful Transition to Remote Learning: Decoding the New Normal

The world might be grappling with multiple slowdowns today, but if there is one area that the COVID-19 crisis has fast-tracked, it is the adoption of remote work and remote learning.  As organizations try and decode the new normal, there is a complete paradigm shift underway. The huge momentum towards remote work has led L&D leaders to fall back on technology to deliver remote learning. They are leveraging technology to move the needle in a variety of training contexts – skill building, leadership development, sales training, compliance, and education. Remote learning technology is also witnessing a lot of investor interest.

As a corporate L&D leader, you are in a very sweet but tricky spot. You are expected to drive this whole transition to remote learning successfully. But for that, you need to have a sound strategy in place. Do you understand the potential and boundaries of remote learning in organizations? Do you know what are the drivers of successful transition beyond giving zoom accounts instructors and trainers?  Is your business model in-sync with your transition plan?

Harbinger had the privilege of hosting 3 highly accomplished learning and development leaders recently, for a virtual Power Hour, on the topic ‘Successful Transition to Remote Learning: Decoding the New Normal.’ The guests were Christopher McLaverty (Senior HR Business Partner and Organization Development Practitioner), Ganesh Natarajan (Co-Founder of 5F World and Kalzoom), and Walter Davis (Head of Talent and Learning Technology at Aggreko). The discussion was led and facilitated by Dr. Vikas Joshi (CEO at Harbinger Group).

Key Challenges and Drivers of Remote Learning

Vikas opened the session with some fascinating statistics indicating the increased investor interest in remote learning and then moved on to talk about the key challenges that organizations face when moving to remote learning. Some of them being,

  • Engaging learners
  • Managing stakeholder expectations ​– Internal customer, executive leadership, and learner
  • Creating classroom-like experiences
  • Selecting technology​
  • Internet connectivity

The panelists talked about how they addressed these challenges at their workplaces and managed a successful transition.

There was a lot of interesting discussion around the drivers of a successful transition to remote learning​, which includes, right early wins, careful revision of metrics and measurement, and most importantly, the use of the right technology across the whole learning experience.

Tips for Transitioning to Remote Learning

After a detailed and insightful discussion with the panelists, Vikas shared some useful tips for organizations to plan their transition to remote learning. As an L&D leader, for a successful transition, you need to

  • Align training programs with business strategy​
  • Make internal customers and L&D co-owners of the transition​
  • Assess new capability gaps and focus on them​
  • Design it as a learning journey instead of discrete sessions​
  • Pilot a training session and then scale-up​
  • Define KPIs and measure impact​
  • Integrate L&D in the flow of work​
  • Invest into systems and technology

Remote learning is here to stay. The sooner you adapt to it, quicker you can reap the benefits.  L&D leaders need to sensitize executives and customers about the boundaries and potential of remote learning. They also need to educate instructors, curriculum designers, and learners on how they should prepare for remote learning​. And yes, not to forget, technology is a key driver in this whole transition​.

Here is the link to the Power Hour session recording.

Have you been struggling with transitioning to remote learning? Or have you successfully navigated this challenge? What success stories, experiences, or tips do you have to share? Please comment below or drop us a note at info@harbingerlearning.com.

How Off-The-Shelf Learning Providers Can Take Advantage of Technology Disruptions

Technology disruptions can be a big sink for any business, if not handled well. Off-the-shelf learning providers have witnessed multiple such disruptions in the last few years, the latest one being Flash sunsetting. Such disruptions could result in huge capital expenditure or delay go-to-market plans, adversely impacting the bottom line in either case.  As the CEO or senior leader of an off-the-shelf learning provider, how do you handle such challenges? Is there a way you can leverage these disruptions to your advantage? How can you use your existing resources to turn such disruptions into an opportunity?

Harbinger had the privilege of hosting six of world’s highly accomplished learning and development leaders recently, for Power Hour – an online roundtable discussion. The guests were Frank Russell ( Founder and CEO at Prositions), Dehumo Bickersteth (Owner and Principal Consultant at DTB Services), Desiree Pinder (E-Learning Consultant at XP Learning), Michael Schreiner, PMP (Vice President of Content at Vector Solutions), Nicole Prolow (Training Development Specialist), and Rahul Singh (Sr. GM at Harbinger Interactive Learning). The discussion was led and facilitated by Dr Vikas Joshi (CEO at Harbinger Group).

Vikas presented four key types of disruptions that content providers can face. The panelists shared their experiences on how they found some interesting opportunities in the disruptions they had witnessed in their career span.

Socio-Economic Disruptions and the Opportunities They Create

These are the disruptions that arise outside somewhere and affect your business.

Disruption Opportunity
COVID pandemic There is a need to produce COVID educational content in line with the disruption caused by the pandemic.
Rise in gig economy The gig economy generates rapid onboarding needs because people are going to come in and go out.
Inclusion of millennials in workforce The millennials in workforce are driving the need for micro learning.
Importance of diversity and inclusion – gender, race, accessibility A lot of makeover might be required for learning content that’s several years old and may need to be redone keeping the sensitivities for diversity & inclusion, going forward.
Focus on well-being With the increased focus on well-being, off-the-shelf content providers are looking at creating a lot of new content on mental health, financial well-being, etc.

Workplace Disruptions and the Opportunities They Create

These are the disruptions you experience inside your business.

Disruption Opportunity
Shift towards remote work This disruption created opportunities for off-the-shelf content providers to help in developing competencies related to remote work. For example, managing team and motivation in a remote working mode.
Focus on digital channels New content was rapidly needed to develop skills of employees to use digital channels for communication. For examples, sales team need to start selling products and solutions online instead of face to face meetings.
Need for reskilling Employees need to be reskilled for new technologies, new processes, or new job roles; and these skills need to be developed in the context of the prior skills.
New public health regulations With the COVID situation, there are new public health regulations coming up and employees need to be trained before coming back to work.

Design Technology Disruptions and the Opportunities They Create

These are changes at a technology level purely from a design perspective, these disruptions can impact the way you design learning content.

Disruption Opportunity
Rise in automation With technology upgrades, new ways of working emerged with automation. For example, platforms using AI to help in language learning; using Google translate for rapid and cost-effective translations. Using AI to generate questions from raw content by using tools like Quillionz. Off-the-shelf content providers can use technology to reduce the cost of production.
Phasing out of Adobe Flash With Flash sunsetting, there was a huge demand for migrating content to newer technologies like HTML5, Unity, and mobile-friendly content.
Rise of dynamic video This led to usage of technology to deliver interactive and dynamic videos with analytics. Exaltive is a great example of the same.
Emergence of mixed reality Boeing has reported 25% productivity improvement for technicians using mixed reality content. Off-the-shelf content providers are in the early stages of exploring this technology.

Delivery Technology Disruptions and the Opportunities They Create

These are disruptions driven be change in delivery technologies.

Disruption Opportunity
Emergence of social collaboration technology Social collaboration platforms like Teams and Slack are now used in day to day work life. Delivering learning through such platforms in the workflow is another opportunity area for off-the-shelf providers.
Increased adoption of mobile technology Using mobile to deliver learning bytes based on need and learning pattern is another opportunity for off-the-shelf content providers.
The shift from LMS to LXP There is a lot of conversation around how to syndicate off-the-shelf content with platforms like EdCast, Percipio, and Degreed.
Rise of artificial intelligence/machine learning Delivering off-the-shelf content pieces for personalized learning experiences to learners using artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies is another area of opportunity to explore.
Rich data analytics Generating rich data analytics based on learner behaviors and work patterns; and using those insights to deliver just-in-time learning content in the workflow, has huge potential.

As evident from above, there are opportunities that each types of disruption can bring along. Off-the-shelf content providers need to carefully watch out for those and take advantage of them. At the same time, it is not feasible for off-the-shelf providers to work on each opportunity on their own.  Custom content learning businesses can support them for best results.

Here is the link to the complete Power Hour session recording.

Have you devised an opportunity out of a technology disruption? What success stories do you have to share with the industry? Please comment below or drop us a note at info@harbingerlearning.com.