Training Industry Magazine - September/October 2018 - 58

CLOSING
D E A L S

UPSKILLING FRONTLINE WORKERS
USING THE BASICS OF MOBILE LEARNING
BY TARYN OESCH

Over 56 percent of the workforce reads
below a sixth-grade level, and onequarter is illiterate, according to Jessica
Rothenberg-Aalami, Ph.D. That's why
she created Cell-Ed, a mobile learning
solution for low-skilled workers that
recently raised a $1.5 million seed
funding round led by Lumina Impact
Ventures. The company was also named
one of five finalists in the Dollar General
Literacy Foundation's $7 million Barbara
Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE.
While it may seem strange to consider
mobile learning a "basic" training
modality, Rothenberg-Aalami says it's
using "something they already have in

TRAINING IS A GREAT
WAY TO IMPROVE
ENGAGEMENT.
their pocket" - and it doesn't need WiFi, which can be a barrier to training
for many people. Automated texting
and phone calls provide literacy,
English language learning and onthe-job training to frontline workers in
industries such as restaurants, hospitality
and health care and organizations
including AT&T, the state governments
of New York and Texas, the Service
Employees International Union, and
Stanford Medicine.
Cell-Ed launched with a two-year
research study, which resulted in
75-percent completion rates and
80-percent faster skill acquisition,
Rothenberg-Aalami says. The company
will use its new funding to grow
its course offerings and reach and

| 58

continue to build its partnerships with
universities and workforce assessment
and training providers. "It really takes all
of us coming together to bridge this gap
in the market for low-skilled workers,
and meeting them where they're at is a
daunting problem."
For instance, one challenge many
frontline workers face is the level at
which most online courses are delivered
- above the levels of their literacy
and job skills. They are also often
inaccessible; most of the learners served
by Cell-Ed's customers don't even have
email addresses to sign on with. Another
challenge is the high demand for literacy
and job skills training; "waitlists are everpresent," Rothenberg-Aalami says, "and
there are often not enough trainers to
reach the frontline."
In addition, because unemployment is
so low, upskilling current employees is
more important than ever. Especially
with automation, mobile learning
can help organizations upskill their
frontline workers at scale. "We can
reach 300 one day and 300,000 the next
with the same platform and service,"
Rothenberg-Aalami says. Because the
platform uses two-way communication
with automated and live coaches, it
can personalize the training it offers
each learner.
"What if we listened to the worker and
designed for them, rather than take a
curriculum that's online or in a classroom
and then just make it available over
mobile phone?" asks RothenbergAalami. "What if we're mobile-first and
design for the worker at that level and
created a platform and solution that was
constantly responsive?"

The other finalists for the XPRIZE are
Amrita CREATE, an edtech initiative that
provides personalized learning and
adaptive assessments; AutoCognita, an
app that teaches basic literacy, numeracy
and life skills; Learning Upgrade,
which provides mobile learning for
English, reading, writing and math; and
PeopleForWords, which uses a mobile
adventure game to teach literacy. The
running theme across finalists is that
personalized and mobile learning is
an important way to give low-skilled
workers the tools they need to improve
their lives, especially at work.
"Service workers," according to Gallup
research, "are among the least engaged
in the U.S.," with their engagement
levels decreasing as levels for other job
categories have increased. Training is
a great way to improve engagement.
In an article for Forbes, Beth Benjamin
and Emma Sopadjieva point out that in
addition to the direct benefits employees
and organizations experience with
improved engagement, communicating
better with frontline workers supports
a relationship in which employer and
employee learn from each other.
Two-way
communication
using
something that many workers already
have - a mobile phone (with or without
wireless internet or even a good
data plan) is a great way to support
skills development and employee
engagement. It can also create an
organization that listens to, and learns
from, the people who know their
customer best - the employees on the
front lines.
Taryn Oesch is an editor at Training Industry,
Inc. Email Taryn.


https://www.trainingindustry.com/press-release/workforce-development/cell-ed-raises-1-5-million-seed-round-led-by-lumina-impact-ventures/ https://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/163196/getting-employee-customer-encounter.aspx https://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/163196/getting-employee-customer-encounter.aspx https://www.trainingindustry.com/articles/strategy-alignment-and-planning/the-connection-between-workforce-engagement-and-a-culture-of-quality/ https://www.trainingindustry.com/articles/strategy-alignment-and-planning/how-record-low-unemployment-rates-impact-hr-and-ld/ https://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2017/10/09/engage-your-front-line-to-increase-your-bottom-line/#7a8c4b584780 https://www.trainingindustry.com/articles/strategy-alignment-and-planning/how-record-low-unemployment-rates-impact-hr-and-ld/

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Magazine - September/October 2018

https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20201112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20200910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20200708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20200506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20200304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20200102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20191112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20190910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20190708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20190506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20190304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20190102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20181112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20180102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20171112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20170910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20170708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20170506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20170304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20171112_se
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_20161112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2016fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2016summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2016sales
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2016spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2016winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015outsourcing
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015leadership
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2015winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2014fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2014summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2014spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2014winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2013fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2013summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2013spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2013winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2012fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2012summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2012spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2012winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2011fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2011summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2011spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2011winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2010fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2010summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2010spring
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2010winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2009fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2009summer
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2009spring
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2008fall
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/trainingindustry/tiq_2008summer
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