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John Holland taking training to new heights

Area9 Rhapsode

Area9 Lyceum builds 21st century skills and competencies through one of the world’s first four-dimensional learning platforms, Area9 Rhapsode™.

In the construction sector, the safety and wellbeing of its employees is paramount. One of Australia’s leading construction contractors, John Holland, has seen the benefits of a new health and safety learning platform – Area9 Lyceum’s Rhapsode.

Dr. Khurram Jamil, President – Strategic Initiatives for Area9 Lyceum, says Rhapsode according to estimates from John Holland, has saved them more than 12,000 hours in training time and delivered more effective targeted training to its employees.

“Founded by physicians and computer scientists, and headquartered in Copenhagen and Boston, Area9 Lyceum combines more than 20 years of research into human factors and cognition,” says Khurram

“With cutting-edge computer science and artificial intelligence (AI), we transform learning outcomes for millions of learners and businesses like John Holland.”

“Across construction, mining, manufacturing, health care, finance and corporate education, Area9 Lyceum brings scientific rigor to transform learning outcomes at scale globally.”

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John Holland employs over 5,300 staff and more than 1,300 contractors working on projects across Australia and New Zealand. After years of predominantly classroom training, the company included international adaptive e-learning provider, Area9 Lyceum, to its blended approach to learning following successful trials in early 2020.

Speaking of Rhapsode Martin Smith, Group General Manager Health, Sustainability and Climate, John Holland says, “The personal approach for each learner was found to reinforce their journey, as opposed to the traditional ‘one size fits all training’.”

Higher-quality data enabled the business to measure the effectiveness of the training at individual, group, and site level.

Khurram says many current e-learning platforms provide a ‘one size fits all’ approach, not taking into account individual learning needs.

“We have profound insight into the way individuals learn, and how their needs change over time. Every learner is unique – Rhapsode delivers truly personalised learning at scale, cutting training time in half, guaranteeing proficiency, and making lasting impacts on careers and business outcomes,” he says.

“With more than 30 million learners having used Area9’s methodology, it is based on peer-reviewed scientific research about what works in learning, combined with empirical evidence collected over many years.”

John Holland has worked with Area9 Lyceum to complete the development of 15 health and safety courses based on John Hollands safety-critical procedures and started to move its key health and safety technical training, and non-technical learning, into Area9 Lyceum’s adaptive learning platform.

The company has also committed to providing its training courses to a range of different sectors, both in construction and other industries, through the Australian Institute of Health and Safety. Each course can be adapted for direct and indirect workgroups in each sector.

“John Holland recognises both the opportunity and the responsibility to support the wider industry and other sectors with this leading-edge, impactful training platform and to strengthen the role of education in improving the management of critical health and safety risks,” says Martin

“We have investigated Area9’s work in this area, particularly with large organisations, and have seen that the adaptive learning approach can not only reduce time to competency but also improve proficiency and confidence.”

Historically, John Holland relied on face- to-face training in a classroom setting and delivered via PowerPoint. Each session lasted between 45 minutes and 1 hour and a learner’s competencies were tested at the end, usually by carrying out a written assessment.

An internal review identified many opportunities to improve on John Hollands approach. Planning and delivery of the training were taking the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) teams away from important health and safety activities. Training for large groups was difficult due to employees starting work on projects at different times, and training smaller groups created an extra workload for HSE teams.

Employees were also required to complete some of the training before commencing work, causing project mobilisation challenges. Measuring and validating the resulting competency from training was challenging and often unreliable.

The business concluded that e-learning was the response to many of these challenges, enabling John Holland to modernise its training delivery. The Rhapsode software was trialled initially with the Global Mandatory Requirements (GMR) training courses, creating a learning package that was relevant and tailored to John Holland employees including board members, executive and senior leaders, project-based teams and subcontractors.

“The metacognition data – learner journey through the content – provided by Rhapsode was of significantly greater value than the data we previously had through standard training,” Martin says.

“This data allowed us to measure the impact of training at the individual, site, and group levels to provide assurance on the outcomes and in turn inform our critical risk management approach.”

John Holland’s leadership recognised the value of personalised training and made the decision to move all health and safety critical procedural courses to Rhapsode. Fifteen procedural health and safety courses have so far been delivered and they have been adapted to support specific projects John Holland is delivering, including the Metro Tunnel project underway in Melbourne.

“By taking a scientific approach, Rhapsode knows how to measure the impact of training, and how to dynamically reorient the learner when appropriate as they work through the course content,” says Khurram.

“By adapting moment-by-moment and over longer periods of learning, this allows the learner to speed through things they already understand and zero in on what matters for this learner, short term as well as long term.

“Rhapsode supports individual needs, measures confidence, and improves the engagement and learning experience for each and every user.”

The Rhapsode software allows global management requirement courses to be tailored to both subcontractors and leaders, and to refine the focus of the learning objectives and outcomes.

“The results from a full year of integrating our health and safety critical procedural courses into Rhapsode have been excellent – all key metrics have been exceeded by this partnership,” says Martin.

Rhapsode uses an AI algorithm built on the experience of more than one billion data points to support each learner exactly as a personal teacher would, but at scale. The platform measures and assesses the learner as they move through the content, filling the gaps in critical safety knowledge that standard e-learning fails to deliver.

The software is particularly adept at measuring levels of ‘unconscious incompetence’ – the ‘I don’t know what I don’t know’ – where a learner is not aware that they lack knowledge about a task they are undertaking, or believe they are carrying out activities and tasks in accordance with procedures even though they are not.

In the context of construction health and safety, this poses a significant risk both to the individual and the surrounding workforce. However, Rhapsode reporting shows that the average level of ‘unconscious incompetence’ for people completing the course is reduced from 25% to less than 1%, significantly increasing the learners understanding of the procedural content in task planning and execution..

“The difference in this platform is the AI ability to move each learner to a higher level of understanding,” says Martin.

“This has a significant and positive impact on health and safety risk management as Rhapsode helps each learner understand their learning gaps.”

The Rhapsode software has identified thousands of significant gaps in the competencies of learners. “But the key to the success of this innovative platform is the elimination of the gaps and each person reaching 100% proficiency on the content. This is a very different outcome to the standard compliance ‘tick and flick’ e-learning,” says Martin.

“We now have detailed data from individuals, works sites, subcontractors, and across the organisation that shows the elimination of these knowledge gaps and the positive impact this can have on the management of critical safety risks,” says Martin.

Martin says courses at John Holland are taking 20-30 minutes less to complete than previous approaches. The AI-based solution can determine an individual’s proficiency profile around the course content and support each learner personally, so it moves quickly through the areas with high competency and spends more time on learning and content across areas where there are gaps.

For John Holland users, the average time to health and safety proficiency has been halved across all courses. John Holland estimates that Rhapsode has saved the company 12,800 hours to date, closed gaps in critical health and safety knowledge, and is enabling improvement in the company’s approach to critical health and safety risk management.

Keeping the focused educational content to areas where learner knowledge is low also helps maintain learner focus. “It deters them from glazing over the content they assume they already know, even if they do not,” says Martin.

“Because the adaptive learning platform tells the learner that they need more information on a topic before delving into that educational content, the learner recognises that all the information being provided is information they require and do not fully understand already.”

Khurram says Area9 Lyceum’s approach is to work closely with businesses to support their needs and requirements including with direct employees, new starters, and subcontractors.

“Rhapsode AI algorithm allows each learner to engage in a personalised learning journey through the course to achieve 100% proficiency, a key difference to standard e-learning proven across millions of people in a wide range of industries,” says Khurram.

For company’s looking to replace their current training or learning processes with Rhapsode, Khurram says the process is straight forward.

“Our partnerships start with small starter projects working closely with the subject matter experts in the business to build a course to be used across a number of employees,” he says.

“This is an efficient and effective way to assess the value of adaptive learning for the company which is integrated into their existing LMS allowing single sign on for employees.”

“From this pilot we continue to work with organisations in building more courses, supporting improvements in competency, saving time, engaging employees and enhancing business outcomes.”

Benefits of switching

By switching to Area9 Lyceum’s Rhapsode, John Holland has seen a host of benefits:

  • Over 14,000 learners through the courses.
  • Over 28,000 learning courses completed.
  • 100% proficiency across all learners.
  • Reduction in training time compared to standard delivery – in 2020, on average 40%.
  • Overall time saving compared to the previous course of over 14,000 hours.
  • Reporting and data that allows insight into these proficiencies and outcomes but also provides a strong platform for improvements.
  • Engagement: Personalised learning for each employee and subcontractor.

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