The Massachusetts State Referee Committee opts for online
referee training to reduce costs and increase knowledge retention -
saving 20 percent of its annual operating budget and slashing
previous training costs by 50 percent in the process.
The Massachusetts State Referee Committee (MSRC) is the state
referee association for the United States Soccer Federation (USSF).
It provides referee training, certification, assessment, and
all-around education for soccer officials engaged in youth, adult,
amateur, professional, and international soccer matches in
The MSRC provides training, certification, and other services for
more than 5,000 referees, who officiate over 350,000 games
annually. From providing instruction on proper equipment to
pointing out if a player is off sides, this broad training can be a
major, complicated, and expensive undertaking, as one might
Until recently, the MSRC referees participated in a 16-hour,
classroom-based training course prior to the season. This was a
timely and costly process for the nonprofit organization -
involving staffing fees, as well as travel time and expenses for
trainers and learners alike.
With a need to alleviate these roadblocks and leverage technology
both effectively and cost-efficiently, the MSRC decided to look for
an alternative training solution. It needed one that would provide
the flexibility needed to train 5,000 geographically distributed
individuals in a cost-effective and timely manner.
After looking at all the solutions available, the MSRC chose to
work with Brainshark, a provider in on-demand presentations. With
Brainshark presentations, which can be viewed online, no downloads
required. MSRC trainers could incorporate audio, video,
attachments, quiz questions, and more into their training modules
to provide an engaging multimedia experience.
In addition, the referees-in-training could view and revisit the
online content, retaking quizzes until they felt comfortable with
the material. Anecdotally, the refs overwhelming expressed
appreciation for the ability to watch the new, online training
modules at their leisure - rather than rearrange their schedules or
miss out on a fun, sunny afternoon to attend an in-person session.
Check out a Brainshark online training module used by the MSRC to
address player equipment here: http://www.brainshark.com/massref/law4.
Plus, with Brainshark's tracking capabilities, MSRC officials could
determine which refs had completed training modules - and more
important, which had not. In addition to being alerted to
individual views, the MSRC also could see how long each
presentation had been watched, as well as how quiz questions were
answered. Prior to Brainshark, calculating quiz results had taken a
significant amount of administrative time.
As a result of these benefits, the MSRC began by moving half of its
training program online, reducing staffing and material costs,
along with travel time and associated expenses. "By leveraging a
technology like Brainshark's, organizations such as the MSRC can
easily reduce the costs and improve the effectiveness, efficiency
and convenience of training," says Brainshark CEO Joe Gustafson.
"The MSRC is a great example of how to successfully implement
on-demand training. They came at it with a game plan and created a
program that exceeded their objectives. As organizations look to
succeed in this challenging economy, implementing on-demand
training is a great way to cut costs and improve efficiencies."
Through its use of online learning via the Brainshark modules, the
MSRC was able to reduce the cost of its soccer referee training
program by 50 percent, save 20 percent of its overall annual
operating budget, and get rave reviews from participants. John
Utter, training coordinator for the MSRC, says the hard and soft
savings have convinced his organization to move even more of its
training to the online realm. "For a nonprofit, saving 20 percent
of our annual operating budget has a huge impact, helping us free
up money and time for other priorities and programs that will bring
value to our community," says Utter.
"Brainshark is easy-to-use for referees and trainers alike, and
we're looking forward to continuing to use and improve our online
training program in the future. The positive feedback from our
students - as well as from the players, coaches, and fans they work
with - has been overwhelming. With this soccer training, they're
having a ball," he adds.
In addition to the major cost-savings realized through Brainshark,
the MSRC has gained greater consistency in the quality of training
content. The MSRC also reports that its referees love the
convenience of the online training model and feel the multimedia
presentations promote better knowledge retention.
Pleased with the positive feedback and results, the MSRC is
planning to extend its use of Brainshark beyond referee training.
New uses will include recertification and upgrades; training for
assignors, instructors and assessors; and MSRC recruiting and
retention efforts - helping to realize even greater cost savings
and benefits across the organization.
Irwin Hipsman is director of customer community
John Utter is a volunteer
training coordinator at the MSRC and responsible for the
implementation and tracking of technology training solutions.