Student Stories

Student Story: Karl Kearns

03 August

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Student Story: Karl Kearns

Could you tell us about yourself and your career?

I’m a Training Specialist at the global FinTech company, Fiserv, which has 45,000 employees all over the world. I started my career journey working at a family business that operated in the community sector. The company delivered courses to help people develop their skills to get back into employment or advance their careers. So this was my first experience with training.

I then transitioned into the corporate sector and began working at the telecommunications company, Telco Systems. While there, I moved into learning and development and got a great insight into all of the tools and techniques that are being used in a corporate setting. I spent about a year there before moving into the Training Specialist role where I am now.

My remit is to develop a new modern training system for the company. So the transition has been from delivering PowerPoint presentations, handout exams and written work to digital content creation that can transition from in-person to online. It’s something I’m really enjoying; and the primary reason why I took the Professional Diploma in Digital Learning Design was because I wanted to develop my skills within that space. 

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It’s been an interesting and ever-changing journey; and I would say, it’s something I really enjoy and can see myself being in for a lot longer. The field is accelerating so quickly and there are many new things coming down the line. I learn something in this job every day, and the changes from my last role to now have been drastic. That’s why I think courses like this are so good to keep people abreast of what’s happening. It’s such an exciting industry.

Can you tell us a bit about your role within your organisation?

I am a Training Specialist, and the only trainer at Fiserv based within Ireland. One aspect of my job is to develop training for our clients that is based on our platform. We work with some big clients that include some of the largest banks in the world, to whom I would deliver system training. 

Another part of my role is developing internal soft skills training, such as communication skills, managerial training and training on unconscious bias. I would say I enjoy these personal sessions more as I do a blended learning approach. This includes developing eLearning content and virtual classrooms, in which we bring in all the elements together within the course. So that’s my role at the moment. And as the only Training Specialist based in Ireland, it’s never dull.

Before upskilling, what were some of the challenges you had moving from face-to-face into online?

Moving from face-to-face instruction to online was a bigger jump than I thought it was going to be. As a trainer, I’m used to delivering training all the time. But then I was transported into a corporate environment, and although I would consider myself very tech savvy, I lacked some skills in terms of training design, getting audio correct and visual elements. So the main challenge for me was getting up to speed in an industry that is constantly moving at the same time. I would feel like I was getting up to speed on one element, and then it was getting away from me. 

However, I do think I’ve bridged that gap now. I would say that just having the confidence to be able to develop content is a challenge, because development training is quite a personal thing as well. You develop something that you put out there because you want people to engage with it and to enjoy it. So getting over my insecurities about whether the content would be effective and what I felt was my lack of skills was a challenge.

What were some of the key drivers to develop your career for yourself and for your organisation?

Initially, for me, it was a very personal type of thing and I’m continuously engaging in certain types of personal development. For example, I’ve done a business degree and a psychology degree. I’m also always looking for courses to do. And of course, this particular DLI course was directly related to my professional career. Therefore, it was about bridging that skills gap and wanting to be able to produce the best content possible for the business. 

In order to get funding approved for the course, I had to make a request to the business. So I explained to them that the better content I’m able to produce, the greater business impact it would have. In the end, it was a no-brainer for the business to fund the course and they will hopefully reap the rewards from that in the future.

What were the primary results, outcomes and key changes you experienced from taking the course?

For me, the key changes I experienced were in terms of learning about the most effective methods of digital learning, such as eLearning videos. I use Articulate Storyline, which I’m sure anyone involved in the industry will be familiar with. With this tool, I was able to develop content using the techniques and abilities that I learned within the course, to which learners seem to respond well. 

It’s also great to be able to track and measure how many people are interacting with it; and it appears to get really good viewership. So learning how to best use this tool was probably the most significant impact. 

From a personal perspective, I’ve found the audio aspect to be the biggest change, which is something I was previously not particularly comfortable with doing. I’m not sure if anyone else feels this way, but I don’t enjoy listening back to my own voice. So I found the audio aspect personally really helpful. 

What benefits did the course have for the organisation and how did it impact the work that you do?

How we work is to get tickets raised to us on a daily basis of any issues that the clients may have. So one of my remits was to assist in driving those tickets down. I do this by ensuring that the content I produce enables our clients to settle their own queries without having to come to our team. There are a couple of benefits to this, with one of them being around capacity. If we don’t have a massive backlog of tickets, the speed of ticket resolution is quicker. We can already see an early trend of tickets and the amount of queries beginning to reduce. 

Another activity that we do within the business is deliver a type of virtual classroom session to our clients. We are working on reducing requests for these as well through enabling clients to answer their own queries. My goal is to see a long-term trend of these decreasing, as that would justify what I’ve been doing and the learning that I’ve completed. Although it’s early days, it’s looking fairly positive. And it is also great to be able to see in front of your face, as opposed to just relying on word of mouth or seeing those graphs going down. There’s satisfaction in that.

What do you expect these trends to mean for the business over the next 12 months?

Expanding on that answer, there would be a reduction in the amount of time that we would be spending on tickets. For us, we use a scale system, called ‘likely to recommend’ (LTR), which is a big focus at the moment. Since we are servicing our clients, then my training should reach a stage where clients are extremely satisfied, and they’re able to recommend us to prospective clients. So long-term, if we can retain our current clients, improve our service and attract new clients, that would be the ideal for us. 

Why did you choose the Digital Learning Institute?

I did quite a lot of research and was looking for a course that perfectly fit this mould that I had in mind. And so the Professional Diploma in Digital Learning Designat DLI just jumped out at me. Additionally, I had prior experience doing a course with John Kilroy, the founder of DLI, in my previous company. Therefore, I was familiar with him and knew that the DLI courses were highly recommended. I then read up on what the Professional Diploma course at DLI offered; and in the end, choosing this course was a no -brainer. I am delighted with the course.

Can you describe your experience learning with the Digital Learning Institute?

It was a really good course. As it is a 16-week course, it is quite intense for the amount of content and knowledge you consume. However, it was done at a relaxed pace, so you were given plenty of time to do the modules and assessments. The support from the Programme Coordinator, Mark Nolan, was also really good whenever I needed questions answered. I could also go to John for any support on the virtual classrooms that were taking place. 

Therefore, you weren’t just left with your own devices and you did have the support there. I think that mix of being able to go at your own pace, but also having that support was the perfect balance. Personally, I’ve never experienced a course like that, even though I’m doing them all the time. So it was definitely a really positive experience.

What advice would you give to someone who is on the fence about whether to take a course at DLI?

I always say to people in our businesses that the best investment you can make is in yourself. And for me personally, my career and skills have progressed much more in the time since I started the course than they have in years prior. So I’d highly recommend taking the course, even if you want to start with the Professional Certificate in Instructional Design first. I see it as a no-brainer if you want to develop your skills in this industry.