Adaptive Learning Paths Facilitated through Online Assessments and the Reporting Capabilities of an LMS

About Our Client

Adaptive Learning

Our client is a global pharmaceutical conglomerate with operations in more than 30 countries. It manufactures and markets close to 200 drugs for a wide range of diseases.

Its twin focus is on innovation and marketing to build drugs that improve the quality of life and are accessible to the average person.

Adaptive Learning

About Our Client

Our client is a global pharmaceutical conglomerate with operations in more than 30 countries. It manufactures and markets close to 200 drugs for a wide range of diseases.

Its twin focus is on innovation and marketing to build drugs that improve the quality of life and are accessible to the average person.

Client Requirements and Challenges

With a strong presence across the globe and a vast product portfolio, our client has a huge number of sales representatives. The onus of pitching and marketing the organization’s drugs and products lies with these sales representatives, who are often not qualified life science professionals.

In addition to highly knowledgeable buyers (doctors), sales reps have to deal with a huge body of knowledge comprising the human anatomy and physiology, product knowledge (drugs), competitor analysis, clinical trials, selling skills, regulatory standards, R&D, and more. They also need to have a pulse on the latest developments in the dynamic pharmaceutical world – both external and internal updates, discoveries, and ongoing research.

Despite the many areas of training needed by the sales reps, our client couldn’t afford to let them spend too much time in the classroom. The firm wanted to cut down the time reps spend in the classroom, and equip them to hit the ground running. It also wanted to shift reps’ perspective toward training from something “generic” that would cover most of what they already know to something “customized and current” that would address their exact learning gaps. Our client wanted to address a few critical issues:

  • Build learner buy-in to training by helping them identify areas that need improvement
  • Identify gaps and assign personalized learning paths based on individual performance
  • Leverage their existing learning management system (LMS) to set up the adaptive learning framework

Our Solution

CommLab India suggested using the simple, yet potent combination of online assessments and the reporting facilities of the client’s LMS to set up the adaptive learning framework.

What does the online assessment test?

This comprehensive online assessment covers questions from all the areas a sales rep has to be proficient in, such as:

  • Basics of the human anatomy and physiology
  • Comprehensive product knowledge on the drugs each rep sells (primary responsibility)
  • Detailed knowledge on the anatomy and physiology related to their core drug/s
  • Knowledge on other drugs in the company portfolio (secondary)
  • Competitor analysis on core drug/s
  • Selling skills
  • Market research and clinical trials

How often is this assessment rolled out?

This assessment is assigned to all sales reps who have completed one year with the organization (and completed the onboarding program) annually. The hour-long assessment is uploaded on the client’s LMS and assigned to sales reps across the world, location-wise, between the months of March-April. They have 15 days to complete the assessment – with a single attempt.

How does the assessment help?

This assessment offers diagnostic feedback on all major performance areas of each sales rep. The results of the online assessment help our client arrive at the actual training needs identification – paving the way to defining personalized learning paths.

Our Approach

We worked with the client to break down their organizational goals into the desired performance outcomes and understood the scope of training in bridging those gaps. We then drilled down the performance-based learning objectives for each of the defined outcomes, to make training manageable and measurable.

We worked with our client’s subject matter experts to build a list of questions on the KSAs learners had to demonstrate proficiency on – for each training topic (such as the primary and secondary products, sales skills, competitor analysis, and more). The consolidated assessment therefore had a pool of questions from all training topics a sales rep needs to demonstrate knowledge on.  

After completion, we generated custom reports on the client’s LMS to help interpret individual performance on each of the constituent learning areas and suggest the best-fit personalized learning path.

For example, if a learner scores well on his primary products and selling skills, but not on clinical trials and secondary products, he is assigned training on those topics. The type of training is also prescribed based on the score, and an adaptive learning path is set up on the LMS.

A snapshot of how learning paths are defined (based on the score for each training topic):

If reps score above 90%, they are free to refer the available performance support tools
On scoring between 80-90%, reps are recommended to go through related self-paced online learning modules
For a score between 60-80%, reps are assigned mandatory online (self-paced) learning module/s
If they score below 50%, reps have to attend a mandatory classroom training
Setting up these adaptive learning paths gave learners a clear view of their performance, including the training topics they need to focus on, thereby gaining their buy-in for subsequent training programs. Once reps could see that the upcoming training is tailored to address their gaps and is not necessarily in the classroom, its relevance and thereby uptake and utility improved greatly.
It also helped our client gage the overall performance levels of its reps, align its training initiatives with their overall sales strategy, and identify the type of training programs (both classroom and online) to be developed.

Training Formats

On a slightly different note, we helped our client offer online training in various formats that would cater to their on-the-move sales reps and fit seamlessly within the adaptive framework. This gave the organization a chance to enrich its blended learning initiative with online modules and performance support tools.

  • For self-paced online modules, we converted our client’s classroom training material into eLearning courses and/or a curriculum of microlearning courses (where needed, based on the topic complexity)
  • To ensure the maximum utilization of performance support tools, we repurposed eLearning courses into learner-friendly, byte-sized nuggets of various forms such as how-to videos, job-aids, PDFs, infographics, gamified quizzes, GIFs, FAQ banks, and more.

Result

The adaptive learning framework we built, leveraging our client’s existing LMS helped:
  • Identify the exact learning needs of 2000 sales reps spread across the globe
  • Set and recommend personalized learning paths based on individual scores

Once the assessments were ready, it took our team of 4 LMS administrators a little below 3 months to upload them to the LMS, customize reports, and set up learning paths based on individual scores.

To define the learning paths, we mapped existing classroom training sessions and online learning modules to each learner, based on their scores. Where gaps in training formats were identified, we developed the required online learning modules (both eLearning and microlearning) and performance support tools.

The exact training needs identified by the assessments and the personalized learning paths were highly appreciated by both training managers and the sales reps, and our client is now contemplating implementing this adaptive framework for other groups of learners too.

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