This is a 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition (#SHRM19) interview is with eThink Education, a high-quality eLearning provider. Below is a quick Q&A with Brian Carlson, Co-Founder and CEO.
Who is eThink Education!? Tell us everything, just as you would someone approaching your booth and asking you this question at #SHRM19 in Las Vegas.
eThink Education helps organizations create cultures of learning in their workplaces in order to help continually train and develop their talent. We do this by providing a fully-managed digital learning platform, best-of-breed content, and the services that organizations need to transform their learning programs and effectively meet their learning objectives. As the largest Certified Moodle Partner worldwide and the 2018 Global Totara Partner of the Year, eThink is the premier provider of the open-source learning management systems Moodle and Totara. We provide a total eLearning solution that is dynamic and customizable to meet the specific needs of our clients in various industries including government, healthcare, higher education, corporate, and many other verticals.
eThink works with our clients to identify their eLearning needs and configure their LMS to meet those specific needs. This includes identifying ways that we can extend the LMS by integrating with additional plugins or tools that are available in the market, as well as aiding in custom and off-the-shelf content selection. Through our unlimited support model, clients enjoy full access to our experts, who are always available to discuss eLearning trends, best practices, and pedagogy - or to simply be a sounding board to help clients visualize their path to eLearning success.
Ultimately, eThink is best summed up by our mission statement: Extraordinary is our ordinary! Every day we are purposefully different, intentionally transparent, and obsessed with customer success!
The fact that eThink responds to customers in under an hour on average is exceptional, considering the industry today. Was this a major goal from the start? If so, how have you achieved this?
Customer service has always been our number one priority here at eThink. When we started our business, we wanted to flip the Learning Management System model on its head by putting service quality first. We constantly heard the frustration of other learning platform users regarding a general lack of service in the market. The average customer needs more than just a platform; they need constant access to expertise around how to configure the platform in order to maximize learning and business outcomes. eThink has been able to provide an exceptional solution that provides both platform and the consultation that the market is looking for.
We have supported the goal of timely responses by hiring a team of LMS experts who embody our mission in all of their client interactions. As a provider of open-source learning platforms, which both Moodle and Totara are, we work in a highly competitive sphere where unsatisfied clients have plenty of other hosting options. eThink’s customer service is what sets us apart from other providers in the industry. Our service is why we have a 99 percent client retention rate over 11 years of business, and why we have never lost a client to another Moodle or Totara Partner.
Let us in on the magic. What’s the learning process like at eThink? How do you utilize your own tech and processes to educate your employees?
It is important to practice what we preach here at eThink and we believe that building a culture of workplace learning is crucial for our company and many others. We use an internal LMS site on Totara - one of the platforms that we offer! - to implement training initiatives, and each employee has both formal and informal learning goals set throughout the year. These learning goals include product training, personal and professional skills growth, and company-wide initiatives like job swaps and compliance training.
What are the biggest challenges companies face when educating their workforce? How do they overcome those challenges?
Most often, companies feel like they have a bandwidth issue or a finance issue, or both. Employee education looks different to every company. Sometimes it is as simple as mandatory compliance training or as complex as continuous learning and development, but every company can benefit from a Learning Management System to help make training programs more streamlined, organized, and cost-effective.
It is often assumed that self-hosting an open-source LMS solution is the most cost-effective choice when implementing an eLearning system, but that does not show the full picture. Self-hosting takes a large amount of time and a very specific skill set. Rather than being something that an IT employee can work on part-time, it requires a dedicated, highly-skilled team of employees to manage your company’s learning platform. This is where the importance of fully-managed LMS solutions providers like eThink come into the picture. We do the heavy lifting when it comes to hosting and managing a company’s LMS.
Additionally, many companies just don’t have the bandwidth to stay on top of the ever-evolving learning ecosystem. Many companies need a partner in eLearning that can steer them in the right direction and help them stay on top of the latest trends and technologies, and advise them on what tools and strategies they should use in order to meet their particular goals. This is why eThink provides unlimited consultation for our clients. We also provide consulting services to match clients with other partners that offer technologies or services that will round out their learning ecosystem with additional components like content, analytics, video streaming, and more. We can support a client in whatever their eLearning goals are now, and be there to support them in the future as those goals evolve.
What do you wish more HR professionals and recruiters knew about eLearning Solutions?
Learning and training is evolving rapidly. According to the 2019 Workplace Learning Report, 59 percent of talent developers are putting more money into online learning and 39 percent are spending less on in-person instructor led training. Embracing eLearning is a great way for companies to cut training costs, increase efficiency, and provide innovative learning opportunities to their employees. Learning Management Systems (LMSs) can support a variety of learning and training initiatives and adapt to meet the training and business needs of your company as they evolve. Even if mandatory compliance training is currently your company’s only training initiative, an LMS will still be there to support you now and when you want to expand your company’s learning opportunities down the road. Choosing a flexible open-source LMS with the support of a partner like eThink Education can help you build your ideal learning ecosystem with any integrations your company may need now and in the future.
How important is education in employee retention?
Education is a clear investment in your workforce. Taking time out of the week, even if it is a small amount, to encourage learning and development shows employees that you are interested in seeing them grow and pursue their professional interests. You are entering into a partnership with your employees that shows them that you are as committed to them as an individual as they are to your company. Providing professional education and personal growth opportunities through your employee training programs results in employees being engaged and feeling valued, confident, and capable of positively affecting the company’s bottom line.
For anyone who won’t be able to make it to the eThink booth in Las Vegas, what do you want them to know?
We are a high-touch eLearning provider. We truly become a partner for our clients, as we act essentially as an extension of their IT team responsible for their learning platforms. Here at eThink, we understand the importance of being able to rely on your provider for great support, fast service, and all forms of eLearning help and advice. When we push a same-day fix in response to a service ticket, run design sprints with other software vendors to ensure our products work together seamlessly, achieve a 60-minute average turnaround time for a thoughtful, human response to each support inquiry, that is not “going above and beyond.” That is simply what we do and who we are, every single day.
To learn more about what every HR and L&D individual should know when it comes to building a culture of learning in the workplace, join us on our upcoming webinar, Be an HR Superstar: Secrets to Effective Workplace Learning, on July 23 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Find more information and register here.
Visit the ethink booth #2505 at #SHRM19!
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