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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Professors team up to create and run employee training website

Avizr.com offers intuitive and customizable training programs for companies and their employees. // Photo capture by October Yates
Avizr.com offers intuitive and customizable training programs for companies and their employees. // Photo capture by October Yates

Western instructors Eric Kean and Kirsten Drickey have partnered up to run an online training software called Avizr.

Avizr is an online platform for individuals and companies to create and store educational materials to train employees, volunteers and clients. 

Kean, Avizr’s founder, has taught mathematics and viola at Western since 2001. Drickey has been a Spanish instructor at Western since fall 2009 and works on the marketing aspect for the website.

Kean explained two target markets for the program. One is targeting businesses who want to create internal training, so they can upload videos, documents, slides and assessments for their employees. The second major market group is whoever wants to create their own customized training course, such as a life coach.

Users can login to the system and access the information they need from anywhere at anytime.

For a company’s training process, the system creates custom reports so trainers can easily keep track of the metrics of each employee and generate customizable certificates of completion.

“We try to make it as intuitive and easy to use as possible. Both of us do teaching, so we know that every time you learn something, it can be difficult. So we want to make it easy.”

Eric Kean

Avizr started promoting their training courses with gift cards. If one company wants to encourage their trainees to satisfy the course’s requirements via rewards, the site will send gift cards directly to the trainees after they complete the course.

Avizr officially went live in September 2015, but the website gained traction when Kean and Drickey started  promoting the platform by blogging and using social media.

“It works similarly to other learning management system,” Drickey said. “Its purpose is to help you organize teaching or training materials.”

Kean started brainstorming early spring 2015, and it took him nine months to code.

“I’m a teacher first, and I also like to learn new things,” Kean said. “Web development is so present right now, and it’s a way I can come up with a new idea, and actually create it and make it happen.”

Building an online learning management system will also help Kean develop his teaching methods, he said.

Drickey is the curriculum coordinator in the Spanish department of modern and classical languages, where faculty and staff can take upper-division language courses. It’s fascinating to explore professional development and teach beyond what’s in classroom and to do so with technology, she said.

“One of the things that I’ve learned, aside from actual marketing and business sides of things, is learning about the training world,” Drickey said. “People create and sell their online courses, and it’s fascinating to me to learn things and share that knowledge.”

Consumers can expect the website to be easy and simple for the first time use including its clear instructions.

“We try to make it as intuitive and easy to use as possible,” Kean said. “Both of us do teaching, so we know that every time you learn something, it can be difficult. So we want to make it easy.”

“It’s like two pieces of the puzzle: there’s making the website and getting the business.”

As for the website aspect, the most fun part to him is designing pieces together, which is much harder than the coding, Kean said.

Maintaining the design for a long run and observing it from user’s perspectives are the main things to focus on.

“If you have a question, if you want to see something, you can always ask us,” Drickey said. “We want to hear from people what they like what they don’t like, what’s easy to use and what not, so we can get better.”

The most difficult part is getting the words out, getting people try it and getting customers.

“Because before you get bunch of customers, you don’t really know it’s good or not yet,” Kean said.

“I really enjoy teaching in person, and that’s what I love to do,” Drickey said. “But it’s opened my eyes to other ways to teach,” Drickey said. “There are so many ways to use technology, and you can really make it personal and humanized.”

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