Motivis Learning looooooves Salesforce’s Trailhead.
In 2014, Salesforce launched an amazing new training product called Trailhead. Trailhead is a free training tool that anyone can use to become familiar with the “ins and outs” of Salesforce. It guides users on a delightful, asynchronous, self-paced, hands-on tour of Salesforce—and people love every minute of it. And while there are many cool things about it (sweet, sweet badge manna!), chief among them is that it is a real-life, wildly successful example of competency-based education (CBE) in action.
Because competency-based education uses a learner’s personal motivation to drive success, it requires that students demonstrate mastery of subject matter through real-world application. As Yogi Berra might describe it: “If you have a skill, then you have it.”
More concretely, CBE is learner-centric, and goal oriented. It requires active engagement to drive the learner towards defined, measurable outcomes.
Here at Motivis Learning, our mission is to create great learning tools that deliver both traditional and competency-based education solutions to students around the world, and we’re able to do this because Salesforce provides a top-notch customer relationship management (CRM) system. We’ve built our tools on top of Salesforce, enabling educators to follow a student’s journey from admission through graduation.
Okay, so what’s Trailhead?
An industry-leading CRM requires industry-leading training. Enter Trailhead, their proprietary training tool. It’s easy to use, it’s extremely informative, it’s measurable, and best of all, it’s so fun, you hardly even realize you’re learning…in other words, it’s an exemplary model of competency-based learning.
Before Trailhead, the only way to learn a new platform was to spend hours scrolling through a PDF instruction manual. But, to the surprise of no one—people much prefer to learn by doing.
And Trailhead accomplishes just that: by learning through doing, people quickly become comfortable with their software while learning new skills, and maximizing exposure to Salesforce CRM in an engaged way.
With this training platform, in just the matter of a few hours, you’ve blasted through the equivalent of hundreds of pages of boring software manuals. You’ve completed tasks that others have only read about. You have actually lived through the experience of creating a new Contact, changing a Page Layout or Global Setting, or adding a new REST endpoint and have survived to tell about it. You read, you clicked, you learned…and best of all, you mastered! That is competency-based education at its finest.
Trailhead isn’t your average training module
Trailhead is incredibly well-designed, in addition to meeting the needs of competency-based learners at every turn. And, it’s all supported by the engagement of a very large community of friendly users.
Here are just 7 of the ways Trailhead implements their model:
1. Individualized Learning Goals
From the very beginning, you’re able to select your personal learning path and customize your learning experience. Want to start off with an eponymous “trail”? As of this writing, there are 15 (there are always more on the way!) to choose from:
Just want to learn how to do that one thing that’s been dogging you for days? Grab a Module, my friend! Learn the heck out of those Workflows (which you should do anyway, because Workflows are amazing).
Prefer to keep it project-based because you don’t have the time (or desire) to slog through a whole trail right now? No problem, pop a project off the stack.
You don’t have to complete all of the trails or modules or project. Just work on the ones that are important to you. Which brings us to the next awesome Trailhead characteristic…
2. Self-paced, asynchronous learning
Start or stop modules and trails as you see fit. Complete them in order, or not at all. Take what suits you and use it to drive your learning at your pace. It’s your ride, you decide.
3. Clearly defined of success
Each Trailhead training module is laid out smartly, with clear patterns to completion. There’s a summary of the competency that you, as a learner, are expected to complete to achieve mastery of the subject matter.
And within the competency itself, there are clear directions that explain how to get where you’re going.
It’s very welcoming and very thorough. There’s nothing “intimidating” about it. Salesforce wants you to grasp these concepts; they want to make you successful using their product. The path to success is clear before you, and there are no barriers. All you have to do is learn.
How will you know that you know the material? Why, assessments, of course! Everyone loves a good test. Good news, these tests are “open book.” Salesforce isn’t trying to trip you up—CBE assessment is really about applying knowledge, not simply rote memorization.
The slickest part of Trailhead is the clever implementation of assessments. At test time, Trailhead can actually determine if you completed the competencies correctly, based on what gets created in your personal Salesforce Developer Organization. The result is instant feedback on how well you are learning the material.
How does Salesforce pull this off? At the end of most sections, there’s a test: either a short quiz with a series of questions to measure comprehension in a formative way, or a “hands-on” mini-project to apply the concept you just learned. This emphasis on project-based learning results in a directly-measurable outcome and authentic learning. The tasks you complete and the knowledge you apply to complete them are 100% portable to “real world” Salesforce scenarios. For example, you might build a report, or add an Opportunity, or create a new Lightning Component. Done? Boom! You just learned!
5. Measurable outcomes
Once you have that feedback, and you’ve successfully completed your assessments, you have a measurable outcome! Trailhead awards you a nifty badge to certify that you’ve satisfied the criteria that they’ve laid out for competency in that area.
Does this simple badge mean that you are an all-seeing, all-doing Salesforce ninja? Well, it certainly is a good start down the competency-based road!
6. A community of learners
Perhaps one of the nicest, yet often overlooked, thing about Trailhead is that it is supported by an immense community of users who are eager to help any newbies. No matter how trivial the question, someone in the community can tackle it. It is as supportive a group as any college campus (you might consider it a study group of more than 2 million people). Best of all, the strength of this Community extends beyond the confines of Trailhead itself, and it is true of Salesforce in general. People are incredibly willing to help you be successful in the Salesforce ecosystem.
And while the Community is great, the very best thing about Trailhead is that it’s an instant confidence booster. In a few hours, you can learn enough about almost anything-Salesforce-related to help you approach a new project in your organization with a renewed sense of confidence because whatever the task is, you’ve already done it, so you know you can do it again.
And that warms our hearts here at Motivis Learning. Because we know that even though you might not have all of the answers, you have a clear way reach your goals. You can’t fail on your way to mastery—you’ll get there! You can be confident and competent as you take your next steps forward on the Trail.