Smart e-learning for better skilled staff

Wave goodbye to chalk-and-talk sessions – 21st-century staff training is smarter and better switched on to the way people work, learn and have embraced technology in their lives, says Richard Mukheibir, CEO of Cash Converters Southern Africa. The company began with DVD-based learning in 2014. Its e-learning platform now offers 250 custom-made modules that also feature animation and interactive learning, with functionality improving all the time as fibre is rolled out to stores. In effect, this has become the company’s in-house version of the popular MOOCs (massive open online courses), pioneered in the USA from 2008 and expanding rapidly in 2012 and 2013 with the global launch of Udacity, Coursera and FutureLearn.

As a franchise company, Cash Converters regularly needs to upskill existing staff as well as offering training for new franchise owners, their management and staff who all need to be trained whenever a new store is opened. E-learning also addresses the challenges of ensuring training quality control and the resource-intensive nature of training across multiple regions and with high retail staff turnover.

“Even with manuals, workbooks and other set curricula notes, the same session leader might deliver live training in different ways responding to different audiences – with different session leaders, the variations expand exponentially,” says Mukheibir. “Developing an in-house e-learning platform has enabled us to ensure that everybody hears the same words from the same source, allowing both alignment to standards across an international brand and localisation.”

The highly interactive platform uses a lot of video, animation and some gamification, he says. This has been introduced by Beverley Slabbert, recruited in October 2013 for her combined skills in training, website design and development. Following her 2014 pilot, half the Cash Converters stores were introduced to the new e-learning platform over the next year. The value of the programme encouraged uptake by the remainder, with more than 1 300 staff from both head office and stores interacting on the platform.

“All our stores now have access to powerful networks that are always online thanks to two failsafe devices,” says Slabbert. “This means staff can now download our training app onto their smartphones instore, then log into their profile and load their next module to catch up on offline whenever and wherever suits them.”

All modules are kept deliberately short, with a preferred maximum length of 15 minutes and a goal of five to 10 minutes. A few are unavoidably longer though, says Slabbert.

Curriculum is broadly divided by role, offering each staff member his or her dedicated modules. Using techniques familiar to many staff members from platforms such as Netflix, each staffer sees a personalised home page on the curriculum planner that tallies how much of each section and the overall curriculum has been covered or is outstanding.

Over the past year, social-media techniques familiar to users of Facebook, Instagram and FitBit, for example, have been built in to offer e-learners points and badges for progress and the ability to “like” modules and posts. In turn, this means that user analytics can enable content to be flagged as “suggested for you”, “popular in your network” or with high “like” ratings, while pinpointing for the administrator any content that needs tweaking or revising.

“Our e-learning platform is an all-round winner,” says Mukheibir. “It ensures all staff receive the same training standards and content, flags strong performers for fast tracking and those who need extra help, and also assists us with compliance records since it logs when a staff member worked on the module and passed the assessment.”


  1. Your e-learning platform must be designed and built for your end user, the staff member. You might love cool, fancy or amazing functionality but your end user might not be comfortable with it. It could then overwhelm technophobes and frighten them off so they don’t come back. 
  2. Start simple to get even the most reluctant users happy using the e-learning platform – then switch on added functionality as they become confident.
  3. The person responsible for the success of your e-learning platform should be someone excited by the potential of technology, an active social-media user, and who cares about people learning effectively.
  4. He or she should not be an IT geek and does not need to code. Anybody in a training position should be able to oversee the platform.