Syrtis and Leadership Institute collaborate to create innovative e-learning solution for Excellus Inc.
Syrtis and Leadership Institute collaborate to create innovative e-learning solution for Excellus Inc.September 07, 2001Linda Kristensenlgkriste@syr.edu
Syrtis and the Leadership Institute of Syracuse University have created innovative online training on leadership excellence for Upstate New York’s largest health insurance company. Implementing the training is Excellus Inc., the parent company of BlueCross BlueShield of Central New York, BlueCross BlueShield of the Rochester Area and BlueCross BlueShield of Utica-Watertown. It is the first Syrtis-Leadership Institute venture.
This comprehensive course is customized to Excellus’ business objectives for cost effectiveness and relevance to its mission, goals and projects. The course enables Excellus management across Upstate New York to enhance skills to administer the $2.9 billion health care financing company, while containing the company’s training costs. Excellus is one of the region’s largest employers, with more than 4,500 employees.
Syrtis, a team of learning architects and developers, created the course in collaboration with SU’s Leadership Institute on Applied Research in Change which provided content. Syrtis designs, develops and deploys technology-enhanced instructional solutions for corporate, government and academic organizations. Its learning solutions are “platform-independent”-blending classroom instruction with e-learning-and are customized by integrating training with work experiences. The Leadership Institute’s services range from developing certification programs to establishing corporate “universities.” Both are new units at University College.
Resulting from an analysis of Excellus’ needs and specifications, the course incorporates Excellus’ organizational competencies, leadership concepts and business models into a “blended” learning solution. There are four components of the self-paced Leadership Excellence course.
Excellus is launching the course as a pilot with groups of 30 managers taking the course together, teaming up on course projects. Syrtis is also providing 300 of the company’s managers and executives with access to a knowledge Web site that complements the course with a continuously updated online reference of Excellus-relevant strategic information and project case studies in leadership excellence. During the pilot, Syrtis hosts, manages and facilitates the entire course on secure servers.
The company’s expected cost savings ties directly to how the course is designed, according to William Dardis, an Excellus consultant on employee education and performance and an advisor to the Leadership Excellence Program. Excellus representatives worked with Dana Brooks Hart, Leadership Institute director and course author; Lori Krom of Syrtis, the project manager; and Laura Martin of SU’s Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation Program in the School of Education, the instructional designer.
Hart said: “Teaming with Syrtis gives the Institute powerful tools to ensure a high return on a business client’s training investment by delivering a superior quality, results-oriented learning experience.”
“We knew we had to make the learning as real as possible with case studies from Excellus,” Dardis said. “Syrtis met this requirement by creating a course that incorporates classroom sessions with online, collaborative course work. The result is a course as realistic and as rigorous as any executive M.B.A. program, and one that applies to Excellus’ specific goals and objectives.”
Stuart Williams, Syrtis director, says blended training succeeds because his instructional designers can customize the solution to meet the exact requirements defined by the training organization.
“Excellus’ situation is not much different from other large organizations with varied training needs,” he said. “Traditional classroom training takes time that many organizations don’t have. Couple that with the failure of first-generation online learning to provide the degree of customization required to meet specific business objectives and you have some very frustrated organizations. By partnering with health care organizations such as Excellus, we can design exactly the courses they need to instruct their people in ways that work for them.”