Merrill Lynch Case Study – A Pioneer of Mobile Learning (#mlearning)
The initial Merrill Lynch pilot, entitled GoLearn, involved offering three mandated courses both via MLU (Merrill Lynch University) and via the BlackBerry in 2007. GoLearn is the first custom, firm-wide mobile application since e-mail in the financial services industry. This case study was listed on this example page of Mobile Learning Handbook. And the original summary of the story is here.
The outcomes exceeded the goals. Higher scores were obtained in half the time. Bankers who completed the training did so in 54 less minutes and tested higher on the final assessment tests than the remainder of the firm. Mobile users also completed their training twenty days earlier than those who trained via MLU(Merrrill Lynch University – Online training courses).
A briefing is as below.
Why Mobile Learning?
Like many organizations, employees at Merrill Lynch struggle to find time for training. People are too busy doing their jobs to keep up with continuing development. While live, instructor-led training is highly valued, getting 60,000 people from three different business units in 38 countries in the classroom on a regular basis is difficult.
As Managing Director Joe Casey, head of global markets, investment banking leadership and talent management, points out, “We are in a highly competitive, fast-paced business with key employees constantly on the go with our clients. Our learning and development strategies must be closely aligned with our business and need to solve for the realities of our operating environment and how our people work — often remotely and when they’re pressed for time.”
The firm wanted to:
• Enable learning outside the office during naturally occurring downtime, such as daily commuting, business trips, waiting rooms, etc.
• Leverage existing BlackBerry usage habits: For example, people typically access their mobile devices 30-plus times each day (every five minutes for some investment bankers) and use them to receive information and take action while out of the office.
• Allow people to complete learning in small bursts, at any desired time and place, with no need for network coverage.
The Pilot Result
Demonstrated shorter time to completion of courses taken on mobile devices with no loss of comprehension, including an average of 45 percent less time in training, with some completing the training in 80 percent less time. Obtained a more timely completion of compliance training, including a 12 percent higher completion rate at the 45-day milestone. Achieved a 1.21 percent increase in average competency score to the control groups.
1. Simplistic usability – Most mobile devices have user-accepted interaction protocols and preferences. The firm built its design methodology around these behaviors. They established an initial set of mobile learning design principles:
- Replace video and audio segments with photos or photo series and transcripts.
- Revise the page flow of content so all material is presented in linear fashion from front to back as well as top to bottom.
- Decompose content included in pop-ups and animations to achieve same messaging and learning within the linear and top-to-bottom paradigm.
- Increase use of color and font variances (bold, italics, capitalization) to differentiate content and boost effectiveness, and prevent the loss of tone, emphasis and characterization.
2.Ubiquitous availability – They created an “untethered” solution to deliver learning anytime and anywhere with superior performance levels to “streaming” via wireless connections. Unless the device battery is dead, the learning is ready and waiting. All someone has to do is launch and learn.
3.Change little – Balancing the demand for mobile training with the need to maintain existing industry standards, such as SCORM, helped guide the methodology for the technology design.
Highlights !! – It is important to note that although Merrill Lynch uses BlackBerry devices for mobile communications, they wanted to create a design that would be transferable to future devices as much as possible to prevent future rework. They decided to develop all of the mobile courses using the e-learning SCORM standard and separate the “course” from the “player.”(the course player on BlackBerry) It allows them to play the courses on other SCORM-standard players and adapt the application to run on other mobile devices (Nokia, Palm, Windows Mobile, etc.), so the courses wouldn’t require any further modification.
“Offering the training over the Blackberry allows the employees to use time away from their desk, often while traveling, to complete their training. It is truly a win-win.” concluded the vice president. The learner survey also showed very positive results. More mobile learning courses were developed.
Did you learn something from this story that’s useful for your mobile learning plan and design?