Recipe for eLearning: A Letter from Research Rockstar’s Director of eLearning Curriculum

One day when my nephew was 8 years old, he brought cupcakes to elementary school.  The teacher asked him who made the cupcakes.  Unflinchingly, he replied “Betty Crocker.”  While his classmates may not have chuckled, his teacher certainly did.  Similarly, whether you “bake” from scratch or out of a box, the recipe for good eLearning starts with preparation.

When I joined Research Rockstar in October 2014, the President had a goal to upgrade the self-paced classes offered from its website,  The company already had over twenty excellent courses offered as “live” instructor-led virtual classes, and as self-paced ones—covering a wide range of qualitative and quantitative market research topics.

But the President, Kathryn Korostoff, was clear: it was time to raise the bar on self-paced learning for the market research industry. She gave me a mission: continue delivering the same high-quality content while improving student comprehension and retention. Oh, and keep it fun.

I knew this would be harder than “just add water.” Still, at least I had a library of existing, great content with which to work, and for eLearning developers like myself, that’s not always the case.

To get started, I did three things:  (1) audited existing classes, (2) reviewed current documentation (workbooks and related student reference materials) (3) and developed a set of selection criteria I would use to make sure we chose the best tool for Research Rockstar’s goals (the company had outgrown the software previously used to develop its self-paced classes).

Selecting an eLearning Authoring Tool

There is no shortage of eLearning authoring tools and each one has an array of features, enhancements, templates and options. And ultimately, they are all aimed at supporting instructional design, allowing the eLearning developer to create a storyboard and give the course a “voice” so that the learner will be engaged.

After analyzing various products, I narrowed our short list to two: Lectora and Storyline. I then did trials of each, so that I could get hands-on and see which one would best meet our selection criteria. I created samples, and quickly identified some differences.

While both products are excellent, we settled on Lectora. It’s a popular, robust eLearning authoring tool which provides a wide range of features such as importing existing PowerPoint slides, designing custom animations, sectioning segments within a course, supporting an assortment of quiz question types (multiple choice, hot spots, drag and drop, true/false) and generating a Certificate upon successful course completion. As a developer, I found it powerful and easy to work with. Kathryn was also particularly happy with Lectora’s collaborative reviewing tool, ReviewLink.

Preparing Self-paced eLearning for Research Rockstars

The key ingredient to good eLearning is engaging the learner by way of activities.  Through various learning modes—audio, video, visual and kinesthetic—the learner becomes involved in the process. Some studies indicate that interactivity can boost the overall knowledge retention rate to anywhere from 50% to 90%. Compare this to the training industry’s average knowledge retention rate of 5% to 30%, and you see how interactivity can improve results.  So over the next few months, I’ll be working to transition Research Rockstar’s self-paced classes to the Lectora platform while adding multimedia content and animations to showcase scenario-based learning.  Thus, I intend to improve comprehension and retention rates for our market research training students1.While keeping it fast, fun and convenient, of course.


As the newest member of the Research Rockstar team, I welcome any feedback and suggestions.

Contact me at or at 508.691.6004 ext 706.

Debra Mascott’s recipe for good eLearning:

  1. One package of good content (substantiated by Subject Matter Experts)
  2. One solid, robust, authoring tool (to provide multimedia, interactivities, questions and flexibility).
  3. One instructional designer to give the course a voice, follow adult learning theory, highlight clear performance objectives, create engaging activities, and reinforce concepts with  summaries.
  4. Sprinkle activities, multimedia, audio, video, characters and knowledge checks to bolster the material.

Mix all four ingredients and it may come out just as delicious as my nephew’s Betty Crocker cupcakes.




Getting Your Training Requests Approved: All in the Timing

New Year's Market Research Training BudgetIn the training business, I often hear from professionals who want to expand their skills but have little or no access to training budget. They submit requests and hear there is no budget, or they get pushed off to some unspecified time in the future.

So how can you maximize the chance of getting training budget?

I often find that timing is key. Ad hoc training requests may be met with resistance because they can’t be squeezed into a current budget. If your organization runs on a calendar year fiscal year (starting in January), now is the time to get your budget request in.

Here are three tips to keep in mind when submitting your training budget request:

  1. Add context. When submitting your training request, put it in context. Rather than simply say, “I want to take a class on writing qualitative research reports,” show why. For example, “I want to learn new ways to analyze qualitative research so that I can really get the most value from our research investments.”
  2. Show your manager what’s in it for them. If your direct manager is over-worked, let them know how your training will help them. Try something like, “I am confident that if I take this SPSS class, you will be able to delegate more work to me.”
  3. Tie it to your annual performance review. If you organization has a formal performance review process, this is an excellent opportunity to make your case for training budget. Do you have an end-of-year review coming up? If so, tie a specific goal to training. For example, if your goal is to help your team develop new, innovative methods for discovering customer needs, tie it to a relevant class.

When I talk to Research Rockstar students who have had training budget challenges, I often find that timing is an important factor. After all, most managers know that training reduces employee turnover and boosts performance. Need a proof point? Research from The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) shows that companies investing in training actually have higher revenue per employee than those that do not. So it isn’t that your manager is necessarily opposed to training; they just may need your help to get it into the budget at the right time and with the right context.


[Still not convinced your company will pay for market research training? Then enter Research Rockstar’s Training Giveaway, open now for entries until September 29th, 2014.]



7 Strong: Meet Our Amazing Market Research Instructors

Meet Our InstructorsResearch Rockstar’s instructor roster is now 7 strong. Well, 8 if you count our founder, Kathryn Korostoff who also teaches. Check out the Research Rockstars who teach our market research classes:

Susan Abbott is president of Abbott Research and Consulting.  Susan is a specialist in customer insight and innovation; expert qualitative research of all kinds, including online communities and discovery labs. She also shares her research insights on her blog. We look forward to Susan facilitating some of our qualitative classes.

Delanea Davis, founder and President of Solstice Strategy Partners, LLC, has led some very engaging classes on Writing Qualitative Research Reports and Managing Focus Groups. She brings her 18 years of professional experience with her to the class, and some very funny stories too!

Jeffrey Henning is the founder of Researchscape International, a market research publisher that enables customer-driven organizations to keep up with changes in consumer attitudes and behaviors.  Jeffrey is a member of AAPOR, ESOMAR and the Marketing Research Association. In 2012, he was the inaugural winner of the MRA’s Impact award. He is a well-known market research expert; follow him on Twitter @JHenning.

Janis Haywood, an Independent Research Consultant, is an experienced quantitative research pro. We are thrilled to have Janis teaching quant classes for us, most recently Questionnaire Design 201. Janis has broad experience, but we especially love her CPG research stories!

Karen Lynch, founder of Karen Lynch & Associates, has more than 20 years of experience as a qualitative researcher, facilitator and trainer. She is also a talented writer; check out her market research blog here. Karen teaches Qualitative Research topics for us, bringing amazing tips to our students from her experience moderating hundreds of focus group and individual interviews.

Dr. Steven Struhl is the founder of Converge Analytic. His specialties include discrete choice modeling, segmentation, Bayesian networks, machine learning, conjoint and other trade-off methods, market simulation, market structure analysis, product and service optimization, and more. He wows our students while teaching Introduction to Conjoint Analysis and other quantitative research topics.

Greg Timpany, co-founder of Anova Market Research, continues to impress us with his Quantitative Market Research knowledge.  Greg has honed his Market Research skills for more than 20 years, and shares lots of instructive, real-world examples in his classes. We have been so lucky to have Greg lead a number of our Introduction to SPSS classes.  Greg also tweets about market research topics; follow him @DataDudeGreg.

All of our instructors are actual market researchers. They speak from experience. They share real stories about market research successes and even failures. Their knowledge is practical, not theoretical. And frankly that’s what makes our classes so fun: they aren’t full of boring, academic information you will never really use. It’s all about real applications, best practices, and risk mitigation.  See our complete class options on our Training Store.



Summer Camp for Market Researchers

Camp Rockstar logo

We believe learning market research can be fun. And so we are thrilled to announce that registration is now open for this summer’s Camp Rockstar for market researchers.

About Camp Rockstar

Registration is now open for Camp Rockstar, a summer training camp for market researchers.  Come to Research Rockstar’s summer camp, have a lot of fun learning, and let your expanded market research skills take you to the top of the charts.

No black flies. No sunburn. No snoring from the next bunk. Just an opportunity to immerse yourself in fun, interactive learning with a group of your market research peers.

Campers get to pick up to 6 online market research classes—all for just $800 per camper. All classes are taught in the Research Rockstar virtual classroom, by our expert instructors. Oops, we mean “camp counselors.”

Summer camp market research topics include Customer Satisfaction, Market Segmentation, Online Qualitative Methods, Questionnaire Design, Research Interviews, SPSS, and other real-time online market research classes.

To view class details, dates and more, visit Camp Rockstar.

Any questions? Call us at 508.691.6004 ext 701, or email



Spring Training for Market Researchers

market research spring training

So many people have had a brutal winter—snow, snow and more snow! Makes you want to stay home, doesn’t it? With market research training classes in our virtual classroom, you can have fun, interactive education without the travel.

Check out these upcoming classes:

Introduction to Ethnography (single session, 1.5 PRC hours)
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 11am EDT

Social Media Meets Market Research (single session, 1.5 PRC hours)
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 11am EDT

Introduction to Conjoint Analysis (single session, 1.5 PRC hours)
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 11am EDT

Market Segmentation: Practical Steps to Research Success (single session)
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 11am EDT

Online Qualitative Research Methods (4-wk Power Program, 5 PRC hours)
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 1pm EDT

Managing Focus Groups (4-wk Power Program, 6 PRC hours)
Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 11am EDT

For our complete class catalog, visit