21 had a successful live, onsite training program with four national
trainers who went on the road to multiple locations to conduct the
program. The training program included three days with twenty-four
hours of training contact. Though this program was relatively effective,
there were several areas for improvement. First of all, this live
classroom approach was phenomenally expensive. Secondly, the schedule
forced a lot of content to be crammed into a short time span, making
it difficult for agents to get the concepts, and giving them limited
opportunities for problem-solving and application of new concepts.
Furthermore, while this training program must be designed for a
national audience of agents, it must also allow for customization
at the local level because every state, and some smaller regions,
has different real estate laws.
21 is a blended training program to boost sales performance for
new real estate agents. This blended program transforms and improves
upon the best of the legacy onsite instructor-led training. CREATE
21 includes live online classes, self-paced pre-work and "homework"
materials online, in print, and on video CD-ROMs, a pre-assessment,
and a packet for the broker/managers to help them coach their agents
during the training program and beyond. To develop the CREATE 21
program, designers conducted a needs assessment which included focus
groups to determine what content to add, what to drop, and how best
to deliver it.
The Century 21 blended learning model
The training and performance philosophy at Century 21 has evolved
into a model for blended learning. As you can see in Figure 1 below,
there are two main dimensions in the model:
- Location. Does the experience occur online or onsite
(including at the desktop, at home, or on the road in a hotel).
- Instructor. Is there an instructor to facilitate the
experience, yes or no?
The Century 21
blended learning model describes four possible "blends":
The way they use the model is to first, determine the primary modality
to be used, and then to pick supporting materials and experiences
from the other three quadrants.
with an instructor (quadrant I)
with no instructor (quadrant II)
with an instructor (quadrant III)
with no instructor (quadrant IV)
e-learning classes with an instructor (quadrant I)
Based on Century 21's blended learning model, the primary delivery
modality for CREATE 21 is in quadrant I - live, online classes with
an instructor. The program uses Centra which allows for "integrated
voice over IP," requiring the agents to have only one phone line.
Blackboard, Interwise, and WebEx offer similar functionality. The
online class is used to teach concepts, declarative and procedural
knowledge. [See Figure 2]
Techniques for making online classes more interactive
Through twelve two-hour online lectures (twenty-four hours total),
CREATE 21 instructors make sure that there is a significant amount
of interaction between the instructor and students.
- Pre-assessment during the first online class. Instructors
in the CREATE 21 program administer a pre-test during the first
online class to assess the agents' knowledge level in order
to customize the class for each unique cohort. [See Figure 3]
- Application sharing. If agents are learning how to
use a particular software application, the instructor can bring
up that application online and allow students real-time, hands-on
practice while the instructor and other students "look over
their shoulder" virtually.
- Online breakout rooms. During the online class time,
breakout rooms are available for practicing interpersonal skills.
For example, agents can role-play how they might deal with an
to help level the playing field (quadrants II and IV)
Because new agents come to Century 21 with different experience
and skill levels, the CREATE 21 program levels the playing field
before the online classes begin by providing pre-work including
readings, websites to visit, and CD-ROM video.
Homework for practicing new skills (quadrant II)
Homework includes online, self-paced activities. Some agents are
not highly tech-savvy, so part of the homework might be to visit
five particular websites to gather data, such as the current 30
year interest rates, and cut and paste those into a Word document.
The purpose of the homework assignment is not to gather the data,
rather, the assignment gets agents on the web and using search
engines, URLs, and multiple software applications.
Web-based learning modules purchased off-the-shelf (quadrant
Century 21 purchased web-based training from NetG that involves
a relatively small amount of interactivity, which is good for
slow, 28.8K modems that are still in use by some agents.
Personal CREATE 21 Notebook / Binder (quadrant IV)
Each agent is given a large, attractive notebook that has several
functions [See Figure 4]:
- Advanced organizer for the training program and online courses
- A place to keep ongoing notes
- Supplemental materials
- Marketing piece to encourage other new agents to participate.
CD-ROM Video (quadrant IV)
Since it is difficult to "push" video over the internet due to bandwidth
limitations, Century 21 uses CD-ROM video when it is necessary to
show motion or interaction. For example, in CREATE 21 video is used
to demonstrate sales techniques for dealing with various scenarios.
The videos serve as "behavior models" so new agents can learn the
correct way to conduct business with listing prospects as well as
Coaching guide for Brokers/Managers to coach and localize content
CREATE 21 includes the "Broker Packet for Associate Development"
a notebook for brokers or managers that explains all the lessons,
learning objectives, and homework assignments on a daily basis.
The notebook prepares the broker for an agent to come to them for
guidance, and allows the course materials to be tailored for local
settings. For instance, the online class and supporting materials
cover about 80% of the basics of "agency laws of representation."
However, the laws are different in every state. Therefore, agents
are instructed to ask their brokers about the other 20%, such as
local variations on laws, forms, policies, and procedures. The Broker
Packet allows the broker to anticipate the agents' questions, localize
the course materials, and acclimate the new agent to his or her
There is often a problem when coaching and mentoring programs are
mass-produced. In addition, brokers and managers often don't have
the necessary skills. Therefore, the Broker Packet gives them the
skills for mentoring and coaching their agents. The Packet might
instruct a broker to go to an agent and say, "Well, it's day three,
so you should have covered XYZ so far. Do you have any questions?
Tell me about..." This type of coaching support enhances the engagement
between broker and agent [See Figure 5].
Online tracking so Brokers/Managers can monitor agents' progress
CREATE 21 uses Aspen as a learning management system. It is a product
of Click2Learn and allows agents and their managers to monitor progress
in online courses and on web-based homework assignments. A broker
might see what classes have been completed, where they are in the
self-paced modules, and how they performed on the pre-assessments
and homework assignments. Of course, there are privacy issues that
must be considered with such a tracking system.