Event Report: Certified by Drillster 2021

Blog / News | 01-04-21

Thursday, March 25th, was the day. The first digital edition of Certified by Drillster took place. The last couple of years, we organized ‘Certified by Drillster’ at the office in The Netherlands. But this year, we decided to go global! We moved the entire event to a real TV studio! The theme was, “from knowledge development to behavioral change”. The location was Desmet Studios in Amsterdam. On the day in question, we were anxiously waiting with the entire crew to count down. 3… 2… 1… We are LIVE!

Rusty knowledge

After a short opening by the host Annemarie van Campen, the event could start. In the first portion, Drillster CEO Marco van Sterkenburg told about the developments of the past year. He mentioned, how could we skip it, the corona crisis, and the impact on our organization and other industries. Some industries have been shut down for months or are still waiting for lockdowns to be over. For certain professions within these sectors, knowledge and skills can become a little rusty. These sectors have it tough enough as it is, without skills also fading away. Keeping knowledge and skills up to date is therefore crucial even, or especially, when the work is at a standstill.

Product Development Tour

Product development is an integral part of Certified by Drillster. Because we couldn’t invite everyone to the studio, Thomas Goossens, CTO at Drillster, made a Product Development Tour video. In it, almost all Drillster colleagues and their roles come up for a moment. Upcoming new features and optimizations were also discussed briefly. Some included were the new player, an improved editor, and Luc, the virtual Drillster assistant based on chatbot technology!

From knowledge development to behavioral change

In the next item, Marco talked about how you can use Drillster to train theoretical knowledge, to create awareness and to realize behavioral change. How to design drills and courses in such a way as to achieve this, he explained using Bloom’s Taxonomy, Maslov’s learning phases (unconsciously incompetent to unconsciously competent) and the Drillster framework for achieving behavioral change.

World Book: Gamification, Wizard and text-to-speech

Tom Evans, Director Editorial at World Book, joined the event from the USA via Zoom. He talked about the challenge of bringing massive amounts of content back to fit Wizard, their online learning platform in which Drillster is integrated. They use ‘disguise learning’ to keep content engaging. This way, it is less obvious to the kids that they are learning. To make this happen, they add gamification elements, like a reward system, videos, and educational games. Annemarie asked Tom how World Book made sure that content was aligned, as there are several people who develop content. Tom explained that World Book created a style guide with drill guidelines. Furthermore, they appointed one person to review all content to make sure that the learning content was cohesive.
Next to that, World Book and Drillster have been working on a text-to-speech feature. This feature is important for people to not only read the words, but also hear them. This is especially important for children with vision impairment or learning difficulties, though everyone can benefit from it, as it helps improve reading comprehension.

The first feedback on using Drillster was “overwhelmingly positive” and people even want more content! The next steps will be to create more regional content and make sure that additional accents become available for text-to-speech. Key take-aways from Tom were that drills need to be focused and not too broad, and always create several equivalent questions for each learning element. 

Axalta: suspicious employees and internal comunication

Next up was an interview with Axalta Coating Systems, that was pre-recorded by Tessie Woestenberg, Marketing Manager at Drillster. She interviewed both Robert Pittenger (NA Learning Content Manager) and Kimberly Dominelli (Learning Content Developer). Robert and Kimerly explained how they replaced the week-long face-to-face training with ‘live-virtual’ training and drills. At first, colleagues seemed suspicious of the learning tool. They were afraid it was there to test them. However, with the help of the VP and some well-thought-out (internal) communication, the learning team convinced employees that the Drillster app was there to help them in doing their jobs in the best way possible.
Axalta started making drills for their own employees first. They learned a lot from the pilot and first drills. For example, they learned that some drills were a little too long and they should be short with just crucial information. After fully getting the hang of it, they also launched drills to distributors. Drills with critical need-to-know knowledge for Axalta’s partners enable them to have the right knowledge at the right time. Another important lesson learned was to appoint one Drillster owner in the organization. A person dedicated to assuring the quality of learning content, to making the tool accepted within the organization, and to utilize it as much as possible.

The Hartford: compliance gaps and the Drillster Mindset

Following Axalta was The Hartford. No less than Patty Dickinson (Assistant Learning Director, Instructional & Content Design), Elizabeth Delgado (Senior Learning Consultant, Instructional Designer), and Laura Gilles (Senior Learning Consultant, Instructional Designer) joined us in the studio from all over the USA. The Hartford was looking for a performance-based learning solution to identify and fix proficiency and compliance gaps. They found a solution in the Drillster app. At first, learning staff had to be careful not to call drills tests and not to make standard quiz questions, but use question variants and case scenarios and such instead. When colleagues found out that drilling is a mindset, Drillster became a tool for continuous learning and proficiency support.
Because there are so many people involved in content creation, The Hartford has developed procedures to make drill creation a little more cohesive for everyone. There are drill templates for learning staff to drive consistency and a launch guide with instructions on how to launch drills to a new department or group. And there is an actual Drill Design Council that checks in during content development and does a final check on all drills.
To ensure that drills are adopted by employees, communication is key. Learning staff makes sure they get understanding at the leader level. It must be clear that Drillster is not a new tool, it is a new concept that helps to address specific learning needs, like proficiency gaps and compliance needs, in a new, more targeted way. Many benefits come with Drillster like the individual and personalized approach, learning in short pockets of time, and the competitive fun factor were important to communicate.

Become Certified by Drillster

After the customer cases had been reviewed, Tessie joined Marco and Annemarie to talk about Certified by Drillster. Although this has always been the name of the annual Dutch customer event, ‘Certified by Drillster’ will be taken to the next level. As an instructional designer, it is now possible to actually become certified because, she said, the quality of learning content and drills is crucial. The quality of content is important for the end-users, the learning effectiveness, and thus the higher learning goal of an organization. To ensure this quality, a ‘Certified by Drillster’ course was created. This allows you to keep your knowledge up to date (because we all know that knowledge fades away as time passes), and to obtain a certificate. This way, instructional designers show that they have the necessary knowledge to create the best drill-questions and use Drillster in an optimal way. Did you miss the event, but would you also like to become Certified by Drillster? Send an email to support@drillster.com with your contact details, and you will be invited to the course!

Gert Mijnders of KLM Cargo was the first to receive the certificate. Watch the video here:


At the end of the event, Marco drew some conclusions: stay close to your target group, get your Drillster certificate, internal communication is crucial, and when you have a team of learning content creators, make sure to align and manage all content. And don’t forget that you can use Drillster for everything from knowledge development to behavioral change!

The virtual event turned out to be a success, but the hope is of course to see clients ‘in real life’ again soon. Footage of the event will follow soon. Hope to see you next year!

Do you have feedback on the event or suggestions for the next one? Email it to support@drillster.com!