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Javelin Learning Solutions: The Science of Learning

CIO VendorFred Fishback, Founder and CEO The global corporate training market is estimated at 360 billion dollars annually. More than a trillion dollars was invested in the last three years alone. While new learning content is created each year, there are enormous learning assets on the proverbial shelves. According to Fred Fishback, Founder and CEO of Javelin Learning Solutions, “We need better ways to pull value from existing learning assets, not just create new ones.” That’s where Javelin’s learning platform breaks new ground.

Fishback states, “the problem with so much corporate training is it still operates on a one-and-done strategy.” He adds,“Any parent who has taught a child the multiplication tables knows that ‘one and done’ teaching doesn’t work.” It isn’t that different with adults.

Despite advances with instructional design and learning management systems most training still falls victim to age-old psychology principles. The unrelenting retention curve shows forgetting begins almost immediately after training ends. Herman Ebbinghaus first demonstrated the forgetting curve in 1885; it continues to replicate today. The second problem is training transfer. After training ends and employees return to their job, will they apply what was learned? Old habits are hard to break. Steve Sons, Vice President of Strategy notes, “What’s the value of training sales people on the technical components of a product if they can’t effectively and consistently communicate that knowledge with clients?” He continues, “As children return from school to different home environments, employees return to different climates, cultures and leaders. Some are better than others at encouraging and supporting new behaviours learned during training.”

"Javelin breathes new life into older but still relevant learning content"

Javelin Learning Solutions—a company with decades of experience in the ‘people-business’—started leveraging their industrial and organizational (I/O) roots within the learning space as a way of accelerating human capital. Two problems Javelin set out to solve: how does a company sustain learning? And, how can the organization behaviourally embed training into the employee’s job?

Sustain and embed, the foundation of Javelin’s learning approach.

How does Javelin achieve its goals to sustain and embed? With over three decades of experience in the field of industrial psychology, Fishback appreciates the importance of evidence-based learning strategies.

We need better ways to pull value from existing learning assets, not just create new ones


In describing Javelin’s approach, Fishback goes on to say, “We built a learning platform using a synergistic cocktail of proven adult learning strategies designed to embed and sustain behaviour change.” What’s in this cocktail? Formative assessment, active and adaptive learning, coaching, microlearning, simulations, modelling, behaviourally-anchored competencies, leadership learning support, and more. As Fishback notes, “There is a lot of great science under the hood, yet the learning is designed to be intuitive and easy to use.”

Spaced microlearning offers innumerable benefits to busy people. Microlearning leverages small nuggets of training to learners on their schedule. Modules are under 15 minutes, in line with the optimal length of adults’ attention span.

Active learning inserts learners in the training. Interactive video-enabled simulations immerse learners inside scenarios and records video responses. “To teach adults,” according to Fishback, “you have to grab their attention and hold it.”

Formative assessment or individualized, diagnostic feedback takes different forms, including self-critique and third party review. Javelin leverages both. Learners watch themselves. They are provided ways to self-evaluate performance against model responses and behavioural expectations. Javelin maintains an assessor centre where simulation responses are reviewed by professional assessors providing objective feedback that drives customized learning. According to Fishback, “We have been evaluating human performance in simulations for decades. It’s a core competency. Our assessors can readily adapt to different competency models and behavioural anchors to support a company’s learning strategy.”

Another defining feature of Javelin’s process is equipping leaders with skills that support, encourage and embed learning on the job. According to Sons, “Leaders play a central role in creating a supportive learning transfer climate.” He continues, “Our platform pairs employee training with leader training to ensure transfer of behaviours to the job.”

Javelin’s state-of-the-art immersive learning platform can be availed on any device with an internet connection, 24/7. The cloud-based platform supports tens of thousands of concurrent users and uses the latest xAPI learning standard.

Javelin’s strategy is not theory. It is proven in practice. Hyder Abadin, who leads the company’s healthcare initiatives, cites studies that received lots of positive press in the medical arena. Compared to a control group, doctors recorded a 25 percent improvement in interpersonal effectiveness as measured by behavioural change. Performance improvement accelerated to 42 percent the next time doctors completed the training. “We are thrilled with these results,” says Abadin.
But he goes on to add, “We did build our platform leveraging the best learning science has to offer.” Dr. Monicka Felix describes her reaction to the training, “For the first time, I saw myself as my patients saw me, making me more thoughtful and deliberate in my daily interactions with others.”

A Diverse Business Model

There are multiple revenue streams from Javelin’s learning platform. According to Hugh Samuel, CFO at Javelin, “Our revenue model relies on a mix of sources, including our own content, support for existing training assets, new content from third party vendors, and funding for promising start-ups.” Targeting existing training helps companies wring more value from current learning assets, a key element of Javelin’s value proposition. According to Fishback, “Javelin breathes new life into older but still relevant learning content.” Nonetheless, new content comes online every year. Javelin works with content providers to include ‘sustain and embed’ modules for that training. It increases the efficacy of the training and adds an ongoing revenue stream. Samuel also adds, “We have a venture capital fund to jump start breakthrough learning ideas within the simulation and immersion space.”

The final revenue stream is Javelin’s own content. As noted, they implemented training within the hospital industry for physicians and are currently expanding to other healthcare professionals, including nurses. “Our training improves inter-professional collaboration and patient experience which drives HCAHPS behaviours, leading to increased reimbursements to the hospital,” says Abadin. Javelin also works with colleges and universities, assisting graduating seniors’ transition to work. As Steve Sons notes, “Having spent more than two decades in HR, I appreciate the value of graduates entering the workplace career ready.” The training showed a highly significant behavioural improvement on nationally recognized career competencies developed by NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Christian Garcia, executive director of the career centre at the University of Miami notes, “The training was so effective, 100 percent of our students who completed the program improved!”

Javelin offers remediation training for problem employees and managers across industries. According to Fishback, “Our training strategy has proven so successful that we want a company’s most challenging cases.” Remediation training is aimed at employees who are in difficulty, or may be on probation for a variety of interpersonal issues. Dr. Kandel, a neurosurgeon describes his experience, “When I started the program I never imagined change could happen so fast.” Finally, Javelin is currently adding new content focused on civility training in the workplace.

In the years to come, the company plans to build learning and simulations that are even more immersive. “We are staying on top on developments in AR, VR, and AI,” says Fishback. Javelin has uniquely positioned itself as a creative player in the global learning space, confronting and solving ubiquitous challenges faced by businesses and educational institutions everywhere.