In the latest instalment of our health & safety industry executive interview series we spoke to Compassa Managing Director Will Taylor about his company, the power of interactive video for training, how you can create greater engagement with your teams and the future of eLearning…
Tell us about your company, products, and services
We are Compassa, a health and safety training provider specialising in IOSH, NEBOSH, and bespoke management training. We started out as a face-to-face training provider focusing on IOSH Managing Safely and Incident Investigation courses. In 2019, we had an idea to see if we could set a higher standard for health and safety eLearning using interactive video technology.
Earlier this year we released the world’s only video course for the NEBOSH HSE Introduction to Incident Investigation Award. It’s the 1st NEBOSH course to include a 3D virtual workplace and investigation simulator, with interactive witness interviews where you get to choose how to handle the witness and what questions to ask.
What do you mean by “interactive video course”?
An interactive video is a video the learner has to interact with in order to progress. You can’t just sit there and watch it. You’d get distracted, zone out, or get bored. Instead, our video courses have interactive elements within the videos. What this means is the presenter (me!) asks the learner questions and gives them exercises, and the video pauses whilst the learner does the exercise.
What made you decide to launch eLearning courses?
We knew traditional health and safety eLearning is perceived as boring, tedious, dry, and focused on compliance rather than behavioural change. But it has huge advantages in terms of flexibility. We wanted to see if we could make IOSH and NEBOSH eLearning courses that were as impactful as face-to-face training, as well as FUN. So in 2019, we set out to see if we could do that.
And do you think you have achieved that?
Well I never believed that any eLearning course, not even ours, would have a greater impact than a well-delivered classroom course. And yet, some of our customers have said they can see a greater level of commitment to health and safety, a greater proactiveness, in those people who did our video eLearning for IOSH Managing Safely versus those who completed a classroom version.
As an added bonus, nearly everyone who has done our video courses talks about how much fun they are. They’re engaging, entertaining, and highly effective. Not often someone calls a health and safety eLearning course fun and engaging!
What makes your eLearning fun and engaging?
I told the development team to have fun making the courses. If we enjoy making the course, then people might have fun studying it. So they’re full of stunts, jokes, and references to our favourite movies and TV shows. We also included a lot of bloopers which makes the whole thing feel a lot more human. Health and safety is a dry subject and there is no need to make it more serious than it already is.
Why do think your eLearning resulted in greater levels of commitment than a classroom course?
If the eLearning is persuasive, engaging, and impactful, it’s likely to result in positive changes to attitude. Maybe just as much as an excellent classroom course. The big advantage eLearning has is it is delivered over a much longer time period than a classroom course. So the information has longer to sink in. For example, a typical IOSH Managing Safely course is 3 to 4 days long. Many delegates complete the classroom version in one block. Then they return to work and within a day or two they are back to normal and the course is largely forgotten. It is a “flash in the pan”, no matter how well delivered it is.
eLearning is different. People dip in and out for short periods over several weeks. Every day they learn something new, and they apply it. They think about it. It sinks in. Done repeatedly over two months, this leads to much deeper assimilation of the information and desired behaviours. It results in managers being more committed and more proactive.
Unless the eLearning is boring of course. Then it’s of no use at all!
Surely eLearning is not always the best option for every organisation?
No of course not. We always check for the following:
- Do all the learners have access to IT? Such as screen, speakers, and decent internet connection?
- Do they get undisturbed free time for at least 15min a day?
- Is their line-manager supportive of this initiative and will they hold the person to account for completing it?
- Where are they culturally? For organisations with negative or resistant cultures, a face-to-face approach is probably best.
If the answers to any of the following are negative, they are probably best opting for a face-to-face approach. Which is fine by me, since I absolutely love delivering training!
Where do you see Compassa by 2025?
We’ll continue our course development and by then I expect we will have a much larger portfolio of IOSH and NEBOSH courses, including the General Certificate. I expect we will be the 1st choice for most people who wish to study a NEBOSH General Certificate or any other course via eLearning. It’s merely a question of raising awareness that our courses exist and what we mean by “interactive video eLearning”. It’s a concept which is so new in our industry, it will take time for people to recognise its potential. By then, I also expect our competitors to start copying us and inject a little more personality into their own courses.
What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
It’s thinking of really creative ways to use our interactive eLearning technology to come up with fun activities and games. It’s spending a chunk of time building those activities and then seeing the end result.
What’s the most challenging thing about your job?
The biggest pushback we get is “classroom training is better than eLearning”. It’s a complete generalisation which is usually true. But our eLearning will give most classroom trainers a run for their money. We need to get past that perception and it will take time and effort.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
An old boss once said of an induction training session I delivered: “That was perfect. Next time, do it differently.” When I asked why, since it was perfect, he said “Otherwise, you will never learn.” From there, I’ve made it a personal mission to push the boundaries. I’ve made a ton of mistakes, but learnt a lot.