Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. is keeping its own house in order with e-learning tools built on top of its corporate intranet.

Toronto-based Royal LePage has a longstanding relationship with e-learning supplier Click2learn Inc. and tapped the company three years ago to help it develop Royal LePage University. A recent upgrade to Click2learn’s Aspen productivity suite will see the university add to its course load.

The university is available in each of Royal LePage’s 550 locations across the country and offers courses in salesmanship, professional development, using PowerPoint for customer presentations, and basic offerings like using Microsoft Word and the Internet. Most recently, Royal LePage has added courses that are officially recognized by the real estate councils of New Brunswick, Ontario and Alberta.

“”That’s really important because the reward piece is huge — especially for independent contractors,”” said Royal LePage’s director of network services Jennifer Foster.

Foster is particularly pleased by the university’s 40 per cent usage rate, considering that the company’s agents and brokers are independent and their participation is purely voluntary. To get them using it in the first place, the company sent a team of eight trainers across the country to virtually every office.

Also, “”we’ve incorporated a short session on how to use the Royal LePage university into their in-office training,”” said Foster. “”We’ve found that the blended learning solution of in-office training, hands-on training and the online training has helped us pick up our participation and our completion rate as well, because it just takes the fear out of the equation.””

The upgrade took approximately six weeks, according to Foster, and there was some customization and integration involved on the back end, specifically to integrate Royal LePage’s human resources and e-learning databases.

That’s probably the most common change that customers make when they purchase Apsen, said Click2learn chairman and CEO Kevin Oakes, based in Bellevue, Wash. But there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to integrating e-learning into an existing corporate environment.

“”We have customers that use it right out of the box and don’t make a change to it,”” said Oakes. “”We have others where I would have some of my employees walk up to the organization and look at it and not even recognize it as Aspen.””

But according to Oakes, it was architected that way and is designed to be flexible to meet the various needs of the end users.

“”One of the things with Royal LePage is we knew how we wanted to deploy this,”” said Foster. “” We spent a lot of time surveying our brokers and agents and working with our training team. There’s enough flexibility within the system so that we could build this the way we wanted, but if we wanted to make changes along the way, we could do that.””

This year, Royal LePage will be adding a virtual classroom and is currently piloting more sales-based training tools for agents and brokers, as well as other learning options for the company’s HR department.

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