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Bonus Focus - Ushering in the Shift from Traditional DPK Training to Mobile Solutions

The Shift from Traditional DPK Training to Mobile Solutions

By Perpetual Pereira, Joanne Lee, Susan Caldwell ­­and edited by Gary Woodill

The Evolution of DPK Training

Sales reps training impacts pharmaceutical sales at a fundamental level, and effective disease and product knowledge (DPK) is generally the first phase of sales training that is connected to sales-force effectiveness and often a prerequisite to classroom-based training.

Over the past 20 years, traditional print-based DPK training have made a smooth transition to e-learning delivery for desktop or laptop computers, including CD-ROM and web-based programs. The self-instructional format of traditional DPK training made it a good candidate for e-learning, which turned static DPK self-study modules into effective interactive learning content with the addition of rich media (e.g., animations, video, audio, and interactive illustrations).

More recently, learning technologies are undergoing increasingly rapid transformation, causing pharma to recognize the need to adopt more innovative DPK delivery methods to stay in the forefront of sales training. The latest shift is the evolution from e-learning solutions to mobile solutions.

e-Learning vs. m-Learning

Traditional print-based DPK and e-learning training solutions have ordinarily been presentation in nature, delivered as reading to be completed ahead of time or "just in case." Often, the content is delivered in narrative or sequential format and written from an authoritative stance.

Mobile learning (m-learning) with tablets provides the opportunity to break away from the linear approach to learning. The real power of m-learning happens when we use the connectivity of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones to find information we need immediately because of what we are doing or experiencing.

Well-designed m-learning can be described as "just in time, just enough, and just for me (the user)" (Woodill, Gary, 2010, The Mobile Learning Edge).



Usually fixed to one location

Ability to move freely

Learner is usually not in the context of the topic of learning

Learner is often in the context of the topic learning, which drives learner queries

Content is often presented or pushed to the learner

Content can be pulled by learner at any time, when he or she needs it

Content is often organized as courses

Content is usually more granular, often small items called up as appropriate to a specific query

Learning materials are often competency-based - "just in case" learning

Learning is often task-based, "just in time" learning

The learner's geolocation is usually not important

The learner's geolocation can be used to personalize learning content as the learner moves

Can include virtual worlds as content

Can add text and virtual objects into image of real world, also known as "augmented reality"

Cannot use tagging of environment

Can use tagging of environment, which can be read as learners move through it

Learner can document world from a fixed location

Learner can capture data about the world while moving and send back from location

Learners generally don't coordinate group actions in real time

Learners can coordinate group actions in real time

Doesn't usually involve sensors

Can include live data from mobile sensors

Similar to e-learning, m-learning can be delivered in many ways. Although it is less mature than eLearning, it too can be delivered via differing modes from the traditional narrative and presentational format. For example, with scenario-based training and games (Udell, Chad, 2012, Learning Everywhere). With tablets, like e-learning, there is the opportunity to use digital and learning media to enhance learner comprehension, retention and engagement.

Approaches to Tablet-Driven DPK training

Here, we present three potential approaches for using tablets in DPK learning solutions that can be considered depending on the unique training needs.

Tablet-Driven Approach

What It Involves

Straight Conversion

The simplest and most conservative tablet path. It involves transferring and updating existing print-based or e-learning DPK training to tablet format in a format that is very similar to the original training solution, with little to no change to the existing content.

· Print-based DPK --> page-by-page ePub or iBook

· e-Learning programs --> HTML5 via rapid authoring tools (e.g., Lectora or Articulate Storyline)

· Efficient and cost-effective

Straight conversion may be considered best option for existing DPK training materials that are nearing expiration, or there is a need for mobile delivery but little training budget is allotted


Involves converting existing e-learning or traditional DPK content to m-learning in a format that improves or enhances the content. Including some level of interactivity ideal for adding value and improving learner's experience:

· Interactivity in the form of 3D images for human anatomy

· Animations to depict a drug's mechanisms of action

· Videos to present physician and patient perspectives

Redesign can be considered for products that still have a few years of "shelf life" and where more training budget is available

Fresh Design

Involves brand new creation DPK training solutions specifically for the tablet platform. It includes a more flexible architecture:

· Leverages features of the tablets for training purposes that could not have been used previously, and optimizes just-in-time learning, just the right amount and customized for the user

· Delivers content at the point of need, ideally used as a reference rather than as base knowledge

· Provides an opportunity for learner self-direction, exploration, and a progressive reveal of deeper knowledge when needed

· Allows for more dynamic user experience, such as touch screens for tablet content creation

This approach is ideal for DPK training related to product launches, where the new product is expected to be on the market for several years and a significant budget is given toward the training program.


On a Final Note

The concept of content has been redefined by the digital revolution, and DPK-specific content is no different.

In the past, DPK training was delivered with "training binders," bound by the margins of a page. With the rapid transformation of learning technologies, DPK content can now scroll endlessly. Using tablets for DPK sales training allows learners to jump seamlessly from one page to another, or suddenly view an animation or video from a patient's perspective.

With this evolution in DPK training, content is no longer something sales reps need to look at on a page or screen; it is something they can hold in their hands - an optimally unique experience they can personalize, amplify and manage.

This article was written by Perpetual Pereira (@peppereira), Joanne Lee (@jlee_metrix), Susan Caldwell (@MetrixGroup) ­­and edited by Gary Woodill (@garywoodill), for Metrix Group.

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