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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   October 2016

Online Learning Produces Winning Teams

Technology helps prepare mortgage professionals for successful careers

Every organization faces the same challenge of developing and sustaining its performance and culture while staying on top of the relentless pace of change. There seems to be new obstacles to overcome daily — increased regulations impacting production, intense competition in the talent war and corporate restructurings to achieve strategic goals.

In an environment as dynamic and competitive as the mortgage industry, there is a constant need to improve productivity and efficiency, and the key to making this performance possible is effective training and accountability.

For the most part, training has rarely been the focus of the industry — and given the demanding schedules of today’s managers, this comes as no surprise. Yet as the newest generation of professionals enters the workforce, the knowledge gap between rookies and veterans becomes increasingly apparent and poses a tremendous challenge to managers who are charged with training and mentoring young talent.

Fortunately, technology offers a solution for organizational training needs in the form of online training — which presents the mortgage industry with an opportunity to dramatically impact the next generation of loan originators. An online-training platform can be a powerful tool for developing new loan originators because of its ability to deliver information in an interactive format to users virtually anywhere.

When employed effectively, online training increases student engagement and accelerates the learning process while ensuring competency. In addition, online training gives managers and instructors a real-time ability to monitor a new loan originator’s progress. Mortgage companies that leverage digital learning platforms can help guarantee their training investments generate exceptional returns — including measurable improvements in performance, company culture and employee retention.

Learn by doing

In 1885, German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus made a groundbreaking discovery about memory referred to as the “forgetting curve.” Through his study, Ebbinghaus proved there is an exponential rate at which memory is lost when information is not reinforced.

Ebbinghaus’ idea suggests that the significant investments organizations make annually to improve employee performance through educational efforts will likely be unsuccessful if training does not include a layer of application. Although the mechanisms for sharing information have evolved over the years, evidence shows traditional learning styles have not changed.

Even today, people still learn best by doing, an idea that is captured by the “cognitive apprenticeship” model. This model is based on the theory that through apprenticeship, individuals acquire new knowledge and skills by participating in the activity they are learning about. Current technology makes it possible to apply this concept to the mortgage industry.

To significantly drive results from training, an organization must address the engagement of its loan originators at every level. Effective online learning is designed to maximize engagement and improve the retention of new material by incorporating three key elements into the learning process: immediate application, gamification and socialization.

Immediate application

The newest group of mortgage professionals is largely comprised of millennials — individuals in their 20s and early 30s — who have grown up with technology at their fingertips. Their education was influenced by technology that made learning an interactive experience and empowered them with the ability to acquire knowledge whenever and wherever they needed it. This is a principal known as “just-in-time learning.”

Traditional training methods are not always effective in
helping managers measure their return on investment.

Online learning offers unique opportunities to support this immediate access and application of information through built-in capabilities. In an effective online-learning platform, loan originators can participate in webinar classes and leverage information on demand whenever they need it, while applying their newfound knowledge to their regular workday activities.

This process streamlines training to maximize efficiency, because students can learn on the job instead of having to study outside the office. Additionally, this application improves their effectiveness in the workplace and reinforces course material to help them retain new information throughout their careers. 

Gamification and socialization

Online learning also offers companies the opportunity to increase user engagement through the use of gamification, which turns learning into more of a game, complete with rewards and rivalries. There are many methods organizations can use to incorporate gamification into online training, including recognizing a student of the week to spotlight exceptional performance, or sharing class rankings so participants can see how they stack up among their peers.

Gamification adds a layer of competition to the training, which prepares loan officers for the fiercely competitive mortgage industry, and helps keep them motivated to continue improving their performance. Gamification also delivers value to training by keeping participants interested in their coursework, which reduces the need for managers to motivate their teams to participate in training.

On another front, online learning is valuable for delivering the same level of quality training to a large number of individuals. In addition, it immerses trainees in an online learning community and enriches their experience through socialization. During live webinars, for example, students can submit questions for instructors to answer in real time, and these responses deliver information to the class as a whole.

This interactive communication encourages users to be open and honest when discussing topics relevant to the experiences they face in their workplaces, and ensures all questions are addressed quickly for just-in-time learning. The online-learning process also cultivates respect for other professionals and helps students master multiple means of communication, which strengthens their interpersonal skill sets. These improved communication skills will positively affect their future relationships with referral partners and clients.

Managing accountability

Developing new and existing talent within an organization can involve a significant investment, which is why manager accountability during training is so crucial. Traditional training methods are not always effective in helping managers measure their return on investment, and this can make their role more difficult as they try to coach their teams to reach company targets.

An online-training platform can address this issue by ensuring all loan originators are given the same training experience — and it also provides managers and instructors with a classroom management system (CMS) they can use to monitor student progress and performance. Managers can use the CMS to check on student participation and progress, so students must take ownership of their role in the educational process. This responsibility encourages students to be proactive in nurturing their success, which reduces the time managers must spend to make sure their team is actively engaged in training.

•  •  •

Overall, an online-training platform is as valuable as it is accessible. Loan originators reap the benefits of training through increased mobility and accessibility, which accelerates their performance development. Meanwhile, managers can verify the return on their training investment through online tracking tools that measure the team’s progress.

As the mortgage industry ushers in millennials who have come to rely on information that is accessible at their fingertips, it is essential that companies deliver training in a similar fashion. Fortunately, online learning is a growing trend that will accelerate the learning process and help loan officers achieve production goals faster than ever before, and that’s something worth buying into.

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