Strong connections in a digital world.
Blackmores Institute transforms its approach to virtual education programs, amping up participation with Adobe Connect.
Effectively communicate with groups when in-person training isn't possible
Implement a versatile virtual education solution with customization for various types of training sessions
Support employees and stakeholders across Australasia by offering flexible solutions during a pandemic
Reduced costs of training by eliminating travel
Trained staff across Australia, New Zealand, and Asia through virtual sessions
Achieved greater attendance and diversity at training events by removing barriers to participation
Promotes collaboration and communication between participants with virtual breakout rooms
Improving and promoting the quality use of natural medicine is the mission of Blackmores Institute, the academic and professional arm of Blackmores, Australia’s leading natural health company founded in the 1930s. With a focus on research and education, Blackmores Institute aims to support healthcare professionals with information on the evidence, efficacy, safety, and quality of natural medicine. The Institute takes an evidence-informed approach to building knowledge about natural medicine and sharing the findings with a view to improve public health.
A key component of its approach to building knowledge is training. The company regularly provides educational programs internally to employees as well as externally for professionals in the healthcare field. Historically, Blackmores Institute conducted training sessions in-person. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world it caused major changes for Blackmores Institute. While demand for health products and information rose sharply, the temporary closure of offices and retail stores impacted the way training could be delivered and initially made it challenging for education programs to continue.
Rising to communications challenges during the pandemic
For Blackmores Institute, these changes meant that it was more important than ever to find effective ways for employees and Institute stakeholders to engage with each other across Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. In partnership with webqem, a full-service digital agency, Blackmores Institute quickly and easily transitioned its in-person training sessions to virtual using the advanced video conferencing solution Adobe Connect.
“Adobe Connect is much more than just a video conferencing solution,” says Joel Desouza, Digital Solutions Manager at webqem. "It has so many flexible pods that Blackmores Institute can create any type of virtual experience that it needs to keep people easily connected and highly engaged, which it will continue to benefit from even after the pandemic ends.”
“Our stakeholders remain the central focus and inform all the decisions we make. With it’s rich functionality, Adobe Connect was clearly the best solution to meet all of the diverse needs to help us achieve a quality outcome across Australia and Asia.”
Group Director of Education, Blackmores Institute
Engaging participants in virtual sessions
Blackmores Institute initially started using Adobe Connect for simple education sessions, but once it saw how well the solution performed, it worked with webqem to rapidly scale out the Adobe Connect service and reach more people virtually. Blackmores Institute now uses Adobe Connect for corporate training and development, multimarket conferences, product induction training, and graduation ceremonies for healthcare professionals who have completed Blackmores Institute natural health certifications.
The primary reason for the success of Adobe Connect at Blackmores Institute was its rich, wide range of features and tools. By combining different types of tools and layouts together, the company can create any number of ways for participants to engage with the virtual rooms for various types of training sessions.
“Our stakeholders remain the central focus and inform all the decisions we make,” says Gill McEwen, Group Director of Education at Blackmores Institute. “With its rich functionality, Adobe Connect was clearly the best solution to meet all of the diverse needs to help us achieve a quality outcome across Australia and Asia.”
Using custom pods to add interaction to meetings
The feature used most at Blackmores Institute is the chat tool. Participants can ask for clarification, respond to questions from presenters, or even just message amongst themselves to network and build stronger relationships. The Q&A feature and ability to place multiple chat pods with named headers on the stage creates an even more focused chat environment with structured conversations around specific questions and topics.
Breakout rooms add another element to communication by providing separate chat, screen-sharing, and whiteboard functionality for smaller groups in each session. Blackmores Institute uses breakout rooms to discuss multiple topics at once or create group activities during training sessions, which can be brought back to the main session for broad discussions. Breakout rooms enable hands-on engagement rather than instructor-led monologues, making virtual sessions just as productive and inspiring as in-person sessions.
Adobe Connect also provides multiple ways for presenters to deliver material. In addition to live video conferencing or shared screens, Blackmores Institute can upload videos and create polls and questionnaires ahead of time and play them during sessions. Whiteboards allow presenters to write and draw in real time, or even brainstorm with participants. These integrated tools engage participants further in virtual training sessions, helping them continue to connect and learn even while oceans apart.
“Adobe Connect has transformed the way Blackmores Institute engages with staff and stakeholders, building a strong community that extends beyond borders.”
Digital Solutions Manager, webqem
Changing the way Blackmores Institute works online
Blackmores Institute originally implemented Adobe Connect as a way to continue its educational programs during a global pandemic. But the company realized that online events offer perks for enabling larger and more diverse audiences that will continue to benefit the company even after restrictions on travel and in-person meetings are lifted.
For instance, when Blackmores Institute held a virtual conference, it was possible to increase the number of attendees compared to typical in-person events. People didn’t have to worry about travel, time, or costs of attendance, leading to much higher participation. The attendees also came from more diverse backgrounds in terms of roles or locations. The diversity ultimately led to a much more successful conference, with Blackmores Institute expanding its knowledge base and improving networking across multiple geographies.
Blackmores Institute also broke down internal meeting siloes by switching to virtual sessions. Teams in Australia switched from local face-to-face team meetings to a national planning day held every other month. This unified medium allows teams all over Australia to align expectations and better understand business priorities on a national level.
Virtual versions of events such as conferences, training, and graduation ceremonies have been so successful that the company will likely continue them in lieu of most formerly in-person events. Moving online saves a huge amount of travel costs and eliminates the need to rent event space. But just as importantly, virtual sessions benefit learners, who can connect with a wider group of peers and spend less time traveling to events away from their homes and families.
“Adobe Connect has transformed the way that Blackmores Institute engages with staff and stakeholders, building a strong community that extends beyond borders,” says Joel Desouza, Digital Solutions Manager at webqem.