ABOUT ANDREW SCIVALLY (Co-Founder, eLearning Brothers)
Andrew Scivally is one of the co-founders of eLearning Brothers, the other being Shawn Scivally, his brother. Founded in 2009, eLearning Brothers (eLB) based in the Salt Lake City area in Utah, USA,is a global provider of eLearning templates. The companyhelps eLearning professionals create engaging, interactive, and inspiring learning content.
Prior to eLearning Brothers, Andrew worked at JPMorgan Chase and Zions Bank, where he managed L&D teams.
ABOUT THIS INTERVIEW SERIES:
‘Crystal Balling with Learnnovators’ is a thought-provoking interview series that attempts to gaze into the future of e-learning. It comprises stimulating discussions with industry experts and product evangelists on emerging trends in the learning landscape.
Join us on this exciting journey as we engage with thought leaders and learning innovators to see what the future of our industry looks like.
1. Learnnovators: Behind any successful business or brand, there lies an inspiring story. What is the story behind eLearning Brothers? What made you start this interesting business? Why does it remain a niche one in a market with very few players? What does running this business require? What makes it challenging?
Andrew: The company started like many others… in two brothers’ basements. In 2009, due to some unfortunate circumstances, my brother needed to start working from home and it was at that moment we started to think about starting the company. We had always wanted to do something together and the time had finally presented itself. My brother Shawn started full-time while I helped on nights and weekends. As the company grew, I was finally able to come on full time in 2010. Shawn started to build a site, eLearningTemplates.com, and put various flash games out there. We sold a few and thought that we might be onto something. Over time, it grew into the broadest and deepest eLearning Template Library on the planet. We focus on helping eLearning developers become rock-stars by creating courses that are engaging, interactive, and inspiring.
The key to our business has been finding the right people. I work with the best people in the world. We have a high level of trust between each other, which allows us to work at light-speed. Nobody has a big ego…we just want to build an awesome company that everyone can love. Someday I want everyone to have a “story” to tell. They are part of something special.
2. Learnnovators: You proclaim yourself as the ‘people who create e-learning awesomeness’! You are on an inspiring journey of saving the world from boring e-learning in your own way. How has been your journey been so far? How effective, according to you, has your templates gallery been in helping e-learning designers create engaging and effective training modules quickly? How have organizations been receiving your approach? What are some of the interesting stories that you would like to share with our readers?
Andrew: Things are going very well. The templates aren’t about us. It’s all about helping our customers build awesome courses. We want them to be successful in their careers and to learn new skills. We get lots of emails from happy customers sharing experiences where they were able to quickly build awesome games and interactions.
3. Learnnovators: The ‘eLearning Templates Library’ starts where authoring tools stop. Your templates are powerful extensions to some of the most popular authoring tools in the world. In order to make these (templates) perfectly sync with the changing dynamics of the authoring tools, there should be a whole lot of research, careful planning, and timely execution going into the making. Could you please share these with our readers please?
Andrew: We dig into all of the major authoring tools and see what they can do. Our goal is to build interactive templates natively in these tools. That ends up working out nicely for the users because they can edit and change everything from within one tool that they already know. As you can imagine, we watch the market for new and upcoming tools as well. We typically trial and beta test many tools and figure out ways to “templatize” content.
The hardest parts are around standardization and new software versions. We spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make the templates feel like they belong together. We want users to learn how to use our templates and get a feel for how they are setup. We carry many of the same development techniques across multiple templates. This means that our developers need to collaborate and ensure that they know what each other is doing.
Another difficult thing to keep up with are software updates. It seems like every time we turn around, there’s another version getting released. We need to go back and test the old templates in the new version and modify where necessary. We then need to start using the new version to create new templates (while still supporting the older versions). It gets pretty busy at times.
4. Learnnovators: It is indeed a great experience to work jointly with a client on a design-centric e-learning module, and that too, with a design giant. How was your experience working jointly with Adobe on Quarantine – their scenario-based soft skills training module. What according to you is the most important quality while working with clients on their custom e-learning requirements? (We’ve heard some of your clients saying that it’s ‘listening’, and that you are great at that)?
Andrew: Building the Adobe showcase courses were challenging for many reasons. First, we knew that they needed to be awesome because thousands of users would see and use them. Second, we were building courses in a beta software that was always changing. We’d be getting updates nightly and needed to adjust the course. Lots of late nights, over-nighters, and weeks that never ended. However, in the end, we were very happy with the results. We’ve now done showcase courses for Captivate 7 and 8. (Many of the Adobe courses were built while watching the Tommy Boy movie, eating food that someone slid into our locked office and slapping each other to stay awake.)
The most important quality to demonstrate while working with clients is a “sense of partnership”. We will do our best to support our clients. We want to be a true partner and ensure that everything gets done the right way. I think that our clients feel our sincerity that we care about them.
5. Learnnovators: You are a signatory to the Serious eLearning Manifesto (launched recently by Michael Allen, Clark Quinn, Julie Dirksen, and Will Thalheimer) which is an attempt to raise the quality of e-Learning. How do your products and service offerings align with the Manifesto and its supporting principles?
Andrew: Our templates allow developers to quickly build more interactive course content. Sometimes they don’t have time and we’ve been able to help with that. Other times they don’t know how to build interactive content. The templates help with that also. Developers dig into our templates and see how we’ve built things. Over time they learn our tips and tricks.
6. Learnnovators: Our hearty congratulations to you on making the Inc. 500 fastest-growing companies in America this year (with 331st overall, 6th in Education, and 10th in Utah). How do you look at this honorable achievement that you were able to attain in just five years of starting the business? How do you look at your journey forward? How exciting is the scenario? What challenges due you foresee ahead?
Andrew: We were honored to get into the Inc 500. Our employees are the best and have made this possible. However, this is just the start. We have huge plans and have continued to grow aggressively. New templates, product lines, partnerships, and more…good things are happening.
Our biggest challenge right now is to decide which opportunities to chase. There are tons of great ideas but we can’t tackle them all at once. We have been prioritizing and identifying opportunities that help us continue building the best template library on the planet.
7. Learnnovators: How encouraging is the new learning landscape with the kind of possibilities thrown open by new learning technologies (such as mobile learning, wearable techs, and learning analytics)? How do you visualize your eLearning Templates evolving to harness the power offered by these new learning technologies?
Andrew: We harness the power of each authoring tool. So, as tools evolve, we will be using those new features to do cool things. For example, when Adobe Captivate 8 launched with geo location, we were able to use that in one of the showcase courses.
8. Learnnovators: What according to you is the future of e-learning? How do you look at the interesting shifts happening in learning paradigms (such as social learning, flipped classroom, Bring-Your-Own-Device, etc.) fuelled by the enormous possibilities thrown open by emerging technologies?
Andrew: As time passes, it seems that we are getting more and more impatient. We want to know things now and have instant access to everything. We need to find ways to have training (knowledge) available at the very moment that a person needs it. Gone are the days of trying to memorize and remember everything. It’s not about that anymore. Now it’s about, “how quickly can I access/find the correct information”.
9. Learnnovators: Today’s trend is to build a community engaged in constructive discussions around your product. How significant is this synergy in your development scenario? How do you think your community is driving innovations in your products?
Andrew: Good question. This is an area we are trying to improve. We are working on better ways to see what our customers are building and giving them an easy way to let us know what they’d like us to create. We have some big plans around this…stay tuned.
10. Learnnovators: What is your vision for the learning community? In other words, how do you plan to continue creating ‘e-learning awesomeness’ further for the new age learners with their own unique styles and preferences?
Andrew: The cool thing is that we are only providing templates and assets. Developers can use them in tons of creative ways. We don’t lock them into “templates”. They get the source/work files and can morph them into anything they’d like. Our templates are only limited by the designers’ creativity and how they want to use the files. As we come across cool assets in the marketplace or in our brains, we’ll pull them together and get them into the community
Learnnovators: Thank you so much for sharing your valuable insights and experiences, Andrew. It was wonderful interacting with you. We wish you the very best!
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