Yes, but Surge9 is much more than just an app. It is a comprehensive software platform designed to provide the very best microlearning experience to the mobile learner. It is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering that includes the Surge9 app for each learner and their manager in both iOS and Android; the Surge9 Composer app for iPad that enables you to build your own microlearning content quickly and easily; built-in cloud hosting and data security; world-class data analytics; and 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week technical support over the telephone, and through email or chat. Surge9 also offers a learner web interface.
Yes, the Surge9 app is available for both iOS and Android. It looks and works identically on both devices. The Surge9 Composer, our content authoring app, is an iPad app only.
Surge9 is a Software-as-a-Service offering, sold on a per user per year basis. The price varies by the number of users. Alternative pricing models such as per user per month and per active user models are available. And you can transfer your licenses between employees. That means you can assign the same license to different employees at different times, instead of having to buy one for each of them.
Today people seem to use the term “mobile-first” to mean many different things. Some build websites or HTML-based apps for mobile smartphones and tablets first, while keeping the mobile user in mind, and then adapt those designs for desktop or laptop screens. But in many cases companies try to scale down or adapt their existing web-based products for small screens and call it “mobile-first.”
At Surge9 mobile-first has a precise and rigorous meaning. Surge9 apps are not web apps. They are native apps that have been optimized to run directly on iOS and Android OS. The Surge9 iOS apps are written 100% in Swift. Our Android app is a pure Android Java native implementation. This is what we mean by having a native architecture.
Native apps can use all the advanced capabilities of your mobile devices. They are fast. They support the full set of touch gestures. They leverage mobile push notifications and allow users to use the apps in offline usage mode—that is, they can access your programs when they are not connected to a network. The machine learning engine of new mobile operating systems can only be accessed by native apps.
More importantly, native apps deliver an outstanding learner experience. They enjoy a high adoption rate and deeper employee engagement, and typically result in a larger return on investment. But it also gives you the opportunity to create new workflows and experiment with new and powerful device capabilities to build learning programs that you could never have imagined before.
HTML and hybrid learning apps fall short in these areas. Web apps are slow on mobile, need a constant network connection to work, can’t use touch gestures, have trouble rendering some kinds of content, and suffer from a low adoption rate as users quickly become frustrated with the app.
Have no fear. The mobile experience is richer and more effective but, Surge9 does come with a learner web interface that your employees can use on their desktop or laptops.
But even though an employee may work at a desk, the rest of their life is shaped by mobility. Surge9 is designed to make learning available to your employees in the short spans of time called micro-moments — three minutes here, five minutes there — that open and close unpredictably during the day. It can also be configured to schedule learning activities only at specific times. This means the microlearning system can engage learners when they are off shift and refrain from interfering with them or made inaccessible when they are working.
After completing a classroom or web-based course people start forgetting what they learned. Fast. It is much cheaper to help your employees retain what they have learned than teaching it to them again, or sending them on refresher courses. Training reinforcement is the prevention of forgetting.
Training reinforcement employs a number of proactive, research-based teaching strategies commonly used during and after a training event or online course. It makes it possible for learners to recall in six months the material they learned today. Some of these strategies are counter-intuitive: if you didn’t know that they have been tested scientifically, you probably wouldn’t believe them. These strategies include:
Using quizzes, not as a means to evaluate learners but as a retention exercise.
Teaching two different subjects at once by alternating learning modules on, say, customer service and listening skills.
Spacing out learning retention activities over a period of time, after learners have begun to forget some of the material.
Avoiding massed practice, such as cramming or rereading learning material over and over again.
Making the learning more difficult. Contrary to popular belief, we learn better when it takes real mental effort to learn, instead of trying to make learning activities easier.
Connecting new knowledge as closely as possible to the existing knowledge and life experiences of the learner. This is part of a technique is called elaboration.
Training reinforcement does wonders for your return on investment in learning.
There sure is! There is a mountain of scientific research from the last few decades that has discovered that learning and retention proceed in non-intuitive ways. We have identified some of them in our answer to the question “What does training reinforcement mean?” in this FAQ.
For more information, here are a few primary and secondary sources that explain some of these scientific findings. (Some of them require registration or a subscription to gain access.):
Brown, Peter C., Roediger, Henry L. III, and Mark A. McDaniel. Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2014.
Endres, Tino et al.“Enhancing learning by retrieval: Enriching free recall with elaborative prompting.” Learning and Instruction 49 (June 2017): 13–20, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2016.11.010.
Google. “Micro-Moments.” Think with Google. Accessed November 23, 2018. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/micro-moments/.
Karpicke, Jeffrey D. and Megan A. Smith, “Separate mnemonic effects of retrieval practice and elaborative encoding,” Journal of Memory and Language 67 (2012): 17–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2012.02.004.
Roelle, Julian, and Kirsten Berthold. “Effects of incorporating retrieval into learning tasks: The complexity of the tasks matters.” Learning and Instruction 49 (June 2017): 142–156, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2017.01.008.
Pan, Steven C. “The Interleaving Effect: Mixing It Up Boosts Learning.” Scientific American. August 4, 2015. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-interleaving-effect-mixing-it-up-boosts-learning/.
Thalheimer, W. “How Much Do People Forget?” Accessed November 23, 2018. http://www.work-learning.com/catalog.html.
Adaptive microlearning means that the microlearning system chooses the learning material to present to each learner by examining that learner’s past activities. The app changes and evolves as each individual learner progresses, or falls back, in their understanding of the subject matter or in acquiring new competencies. In adaptive microlearning, no two users receive exactly the same questions, the same learning modules, or the same feedback, because no two people learn at the same speed or in the same way.
There are two ways to construct a microlearning system with adaptive capabilities. One method is by algorithmic coding, which consists of writing sets of rules and computer logic called algorithms to cover all the possible outcomes for each learner. This is very expensive because you must write a huge volume of computer code. It is also static: it will keep making the same responses to the same stimuli two years from now, unless you change it by writing new code. The only way for a company to escape this dilemma is either to limit the features and flexibility of their product, or to charge their customers more.
The better method of achieving an adaptive learning system is by integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into the product. Machine learning, a kind of AI that Surge9 uses, is dynamic: it incorporates each piece of data it receives into its matrix and refines its future responses to what that particular user is doing. Machine learning makes adaptive learning feasible. It keeps getting better every day. It is cost-effective at a large scale and is designed to handle the widest diversity of learners. Adaptive learning is at the heart of Surge9.
There are many branches of AI. Some companies use sentiment analysis to quickly identify and respond to customers who are angry, by listening to what people are saying online. Facial recognition is used by security systems—and by the photos app on your computer. Predictive analytics is still another type of AI, which can notice early signs that a piece of equipment, such as a jet engine, needs servicing long before human beings could ever detect them. The next time you take a flight on an airliner, rest assured that predictive analytics is watching over you, making sure all goes well.
Surge9 employs a branch of AI called machine learning. In machine learning you “train” a complex machine learning model, which doesn’t know what will happen in the future, to handle any unexpected situations. Machine learning solves problems we humans don’t even know we are going to have. It is through machine learning that Surge9 knows what you need to know next.
Microlearning is much more than just a small piece of eLearning. The structure of a good microlearning program includes a combination of many different content types: retrieval practices, microcourses, pre-classroom primers, flashcards, quizzes, challenges that can be played as a game with other learners, and concise learning resources like videos, PDF files, and so on. It is possible to repurpose graphic and audio assets from elearning courses to create components of microlearning, but they are combined in new ways to be self-reinforcing, and to fit into the short moments of opportunity that open and close during our workdays.
Microlearning is adaptive. It uses the data it gathers from your usage patterns of a game or quiz or challenge and automatically adjusts your next learning moment to meet what it believes you need. Questions, whether packaged as quizzes, practices, or challenges, are at the core of most microlearning programs. Learners usually interact with questions first, before viewing the material they are meant to learn.
They used to say the web allowed us to learn anytime and anywhere, but that wasn’t really true, was it? It wasn’t anytime because you usually had to block out time in your calendar in advance to take that elearning course. And when you took the course you couldn’t be just anywhere: you had to find a place with power and an internet connection. Then you had to boot up your laptop — if you had a laptop — and hope the remote access into your corporate network came off without a hitch.
Microlearning truly takes place anytime and anywhere. You don’t have to find a place to do it, because it follows you around on your smartphone or other mobile device. And you don’t have to clear your schedule, because microlearning fits into the tiny moments of free time you encounter standing in the coffee shop line, waiting for the bus, or five minutes on any evening of the week. And if you use Surge9’s unique offline mode, you can take your microlearning program, if you want, in the middle of a lake during a weekend camping trip.
Online learning is facing a crisis. The polite way to say it is that it is a problem with learner motivation. But to be blunt, the stuff is just plain boring.
Page after tedious page of text and picture, stalked by monotones that insist on reading the screen to you, have tormented a whole generation of employees. Microlearning is on a mission to recapture their lost enthusiasm. And gamification is its secret weapon.
Gamification conquers boredom. Gamification builds familiar elements of games into the learning experience, injecting tactical external rewards to motivate eager participation among learners. Point scoring, competitions, reward badges, rules of play, sudden death, and unlocking multiple knowledge achievement levels, like in video games, generate a powerful combination of extrinsic learning motivators that simply work.
Yes and no. Mobile-first microlearning systems are not generally suited to deliver long SCORM courses built for a desktop web environment. But Surge9 supports microcourses along with many other content types. Our microcourse format is designed specifically to let you convert your SCORM course material into bite-sized chunks ideal for microlearning. This means our customers who have made a large investment in SCORM courses can drastically reduce the cost of creating new microlearning programs by repurposing content assets they already have.
But outstanding microlearning entails more than just chopping up an hour-long, SCORM elearning course into four 15-minute ones. It requires repurposing your SCORM content assets at a more detailed level. Because microlearning works differently.
The training programs we are accustomed to deliver on our LMSs were designed on a prescriptive model. We decided what our employees needed to learn and enrolled them in courses we thought would give it to them. At the end we presented them with questions to answer to see if they learned it.
Microlearning is a more active, learner-centred approach to training. The questions usually come first. Based on each learner’s answers, Surge9 diagnoses their competency gaps and designs a personalized program for them. It suggests a unique sequence of different kinds of learning content. It accompanies them with personalized feedback, delivering simultaneous insights about how others in their peer group are doing and what they found useful. And it may engage them in learning games and challenges with multiple achievement levels, which can be competitive or not. Then Surge9 begins the cycle again, asking new questions that move them another step forward.
Overall, Surge9 modernizes your SCORM learning assets to achieve the learning goals of the future. And that means boosting the return on your investment in your previous online courses.
Absolutely! Our Surge9 offering has a Surge9 Composer™ app for the iPad that gives you the ability to create, test, and publish microlearning content without touching a line of code. It is a drag and drop interface designed especially for the agile development methodology, which enables you to roll out early versions of your content quickly and then improve them going forward.
It depends on the size and complexity of your program. Because microlearning programs are best built incrementally, you can roll out partial versions of your microlearning almost immediately. You can then add new components and improvements as they become ready.
You can use analytics to measure the effectiveness of your current version and use those insights immediately to make the next generation of your microlearning content better. Small microlearning programs that use your existing content assets—such as questions you have already written and videos you have already used in your SCORM courses, and any existing graphics assets—can be produced in as little as a week.
Larger programs may require multiple iterations that can take up to eight weeks to develop, depending on their size. We can help you with the Surge9 Composer app, training delivered by our microlearning experts, and a group of value-added services and partners who can build your next microlearning program.
In most cases, yes. Surge9 integrates with many of the leading learning management systems in the market. It can be integrated with your LMS at a shallow or a deep level, including using Single-Sign-On (SSO). Surge9’s analytics and training reinforcement data can be sent to your LMS. All the tracking on Surge9 then appears in their LMS profile. Surge9 microlearning can also be added to your LMS course catalogs and integrated into your competencies and learning paths.
Your LMS is your system of record. Surge9 doesn’t replace it. It complements your LMS by making microlearning, training reinforcement, and gamification features available to it.
Yes. We have a special version of Surge9 designed specifically for customers who use SAP’s SuccessFactors LMS. This version brings to Success Factors the full range of Surge9 capabilities of microlearning, training reinforcement, and gamification.
Yes. Surge9 offers the following SSO options: SAML, OAuth 2.0, Okta, and ADFS. You can use Surge9’s SSO feature to enable your employees to use their existing LMS or corporate credentials to access their Surge9 apps.
Surge9’s analytics are superior in every way. We have fully integrated Surge9 with Microsoft Power BI, the market leader in business intelligence technology. Your purchase of Surge9 comes with six Power BI dashboards and 60 pre-built Power BI reports. You also get full access to Power BI itself, so you can create your own dashboards and reports.
You can leverage Power BI to correlate your learning outcomes to hard business results. For example, you can find out if the employees who completed your microlearning programs sell more than others. And you can make continuous adjustments to your program, using Surge9 Composer, to improve performance along the lines Power BI has identified.
Yes. Microlearning and reinforcement are often used to support ILT and WBT courses. They can be used to prepare learners in advance of the course and to help your learners retain their new knowledge with training reinforcement for any period of time after your program is over. Surge9 also has several features that make it easy for ILT instructors to make their courses more engaging and effective by bringing gamification into their classroom, and to get immediate feedback from their students by using Surge9 in class.
Surge9 makes special use of mobile push notifications. Learners receive push notifications when it is time to practice, to take quiz or other activity, and to serve personalized tips to each learner. Managers receive push notifications when their learners reach certain milestones in their learning journey, and Surge9 uses “local” push notification technology to make sure learners receive their push notifications even when they are offline.
Yes! In fact, this is one of the key capabilities that distinguishes Surge9 from other microlearning offerings. We can give learners full access to their microlearning programs offline. When connected to the internet, they can download any of their programs from the cloud to their Surge9 app in seconds with a single touch, like they do in Apple’s iTunes Store or Google Play. The entire content of their microlearning program, including its AI engine, then runs off the app. And they will also continue to receive all their push notifications because we designed those to be delivered locally from their device instead of remotely over a live internet connection.
Our offline learning feature is only possible because we built Surge9 using a true mobile-first, native software architecture.