By Megan Salzano-Birch—For the construction and building industry, education and training have been areas of contention for years. Not only has the industry been starved for new recruits to its labor pool, but the resources to train new recruits have been somewhat difficult to come by.
That is where On3, a new mobile-first education and training platform, hopes to step in—and step up. Paul Cardis, founder and CEO of On3, began developing the On3 mobile training app in 2020 to not only help attract people to the industry but also keep them invested.
“Labor is a problem,” said Bob Baldocchi, principal/VP business development, On3. “And the reason is: No. 1, people aren’t sticking around. I think that’s mainly because they don’t feel connected to the industry. At the end of the day, you want experts in our industry—if you don’t have experts, they leave the industry because they’re not invested. So, this will embed people into the industry, create retention and reduce turnover. And [business owners] can save a ton of money through that process alone.”
No. 2, Baldocchi explained, comes down to the training process itself. “It’s too hard to onboard someone. It’s too hard to get them started. If you’re a supervisor, in order to get somebody onboarded, you have to spend 24/7 with them while you’re trying to do your own job.” These two issues became the backbone of On3’s solution-based training app.
How it works: On3 is a mobile-first app designed to take advantage of cellphone technology while removing the need to take field agents and RSAs out of the field in order to attend training. Within the app, users will find micro-learning modules designed specifically for quick reference and better retention across various topics of study. The modules are designed by experts in the industry—including specialty retailers, builders and manufacturers, to name a few—which can be created from existing educational content, developed “on the fly” or created in collaboration with On3. The training modules are searchable, shareable and available offline. What’s more, the app itself is powered by an artificial intelligence (AI) engine that is said to quickly adapt to each learner.
Why it’s unique
Tackling education and training within the industry is no easy feat, and On3 takes it a step further with several unique features. No. 1 is its mobile-first approach. “It was really built for field agents, and field agents are not sitting at PCs—they’re out on the job,” Baldocchi stated. “If they’re not out on a jobsite, you’re not making money. So, the idea of mobile-first was really important because we want them learning in the field.”
Next, is the app’s AI engine, which is designed to adapt to each user individually. “We have all different levels of users out there,” Baldocchi noted. “Some of them are absolute experts; some of them are complete rookies. The AI engine understands those learners and will modify the coursework depending upon the individual using it.”
According to Baldocchi, there are several ways in which the AI engine works. No. 1 is to feed the system on the front end. “You can say, ‘Hey, this is Joe. Joe has 25 years in the business.’ The app will send Joe primer questions, and by answering certain questions a certain way, the app will know he doesn’t need to take courses ‘x, y, z,’ and it will advance him to where he needs to be.”
The next way the AI engine can analyze a trainee is simply by that trainee tackling the modules. “As they test through the process, the app knows if it took two or three times to pass a particular five-question test. It will then send them a few questions periodically. If they don’t get those right, the app is going to tell them to re-do the course. So, it’s basically starting to adapt to the learner. And the more data points it gets, the more it knows that learner and what that learner needs.”
On3 comes fully equipped with hundreds of modules across categories from product knowledge to leadership training, risk mitigation, best practices and more. Each module is five minutes versus traditional training, which can be clunky and time-consuming, according to Baldocchi. The modules are a part of an overall course for each user to pass—complete with quizzes and an On3 certification.
“It’s really all about how you deliver the content,” Baldocchi said. “We’re putting the con- tent into their hands in a way that’s never been done before and a way that’s proven to increase retention. And why not give them the chance to knock out a module or two when they have a couple of free minutes?”
The training modules are created in several ways. First, they can be generated by retailers, suppliers, contractors, etc., using their own educational content such as training videos, which On3 will convert into a training course.
Several well-known experts have already contributed to the lineup, including:
- “Reading Plans” by Jim Rogers, No. 1 LinkedIn instructor for construction
- “Supply Chain” by Ken Pinto, author, supply chain expert
- “Risk Mitigation” by Northwest Contractors Alliance (NWCA)
- “Leadership” by Kevin Eikenberry, The Kevin Eikenberry Group, Forbes council member
- “Builder Operational Best Practices” by Mark Hodges, Blueprint Strategic Consulting
- “Magnetic Caring Experience Course (Customer Service)” by Dr. Chip Bell, author, expert in customer loyalty, service innovation
- “Flooring Knowledge” by Rite Rug Flooring, Ohio
Another way to create modules is by using On3 Create, which allows owners to develop their own modules in real time. “This is the most fun and exciting part,” Baldocchi said. “On3 Create allows you to basically develop your own content on the fly. It can be a sales training course, an installation course or a brand-new product that you want to introduce to your team. With On3 Create, you can type in your objectives or you can create video content and then you send that off to On3, and On3 will turn that into a module within the week.”
Each module is also “coachable,” meaning users aren’t just left to view and complete tasks blindly without input from their supervisors. “There’s an opportunity for them to do coaching sessions,” Baldocchi explained. “The coach isn’t sitting right next them feeling like they have to hold their hand the whole day. That employee could be out in the field, let’s just say, installing a 12 x 24 tile. Well, they could take a video of themselves installing the tile and then send it to their coach through the app. The coach will actually be able to get it in real time and send that installer a note back via text saying, ‘Great job. Nailed it’ or offer additional feedback.”
On3 and On3 Create are now live.