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Coldwell Banker

The Managing Broker Academy: A New Way to Learn

Corporate Learning & Performance
Banking, Finance & Insurance


Since 1906, Coldwell Banker has been a leading provider of residential and commercial real estate. The oldest national real estate brand in the United States, the company’s network includes nearly 86,000 sales associates and brokers working from approximately 3,300 offices in 50 countries and territories.


Almost half of Coldwell Banker’s offices are independent franchises, making it difficult for the corporate office to codify and standardize the training materials and learning requirements for its managers. Most managers did not make use of Coldwell Banker’s learning management system (LMS) for structured training opportunities. Managers often came  together informally to share best practices and find mentors from among experts in local markets but resisted collaborating with others via the LMS. 

Therefore, corporate executives wanted to devise a learning and development approach that would increase managers’ performance and productivity yet complement their current—and effective—informal learning style.


Coldwell Banker envisioned an everyday work tool, not a discrete training intervention. Leveraging the latest in learning science and web technology, Aptara created an interactive and collaborative virtual world—a social learning portal.

After nine months of design and development, Aptara created the Managing Broker Academy (MBA) portal, which facilitates peer-to-peer, expert-to-peer, and mentor-to-peer user collaborative learning via an inviting culture of knowledge sharing. This portal integrates the full range of Coldwell Banker University’s traditional, structured learning resources—web content and documents, intranet, and LMS—and makes them accessible through a single login. 

The graphical user interface, or GUI, is a 3-D virtual world that simulates a Coldwell Banker office. The engaging, interactive environment encourages visitors to explore and learn interactively. An avatar guides users to key sections of the portal, including online discussion groups and a blog for connecting with peers and industry experts.


The MBA portal is scalable: new sections can be easily added, and new content can be managed through XML files. The supporting technology includes PHP, HTML, JavaScript, Adobe Flash CS4, Adobe Photoshop, XML, MySQL, Apache HTTP Server, and Microsoft Word.

Virtual “rooms” provide educational planning and personalized development tools, virtual “counselors,” and access to resources and information on productivity and profitability, leadership, recruiting and retention, training and coaching, and business planning.

Key Portal Features

  • An experts’ blog and real-time industry news feeds
  • Self-paced click-and-launch courses that do not require registration
  • A community discussion and best practices forum
  • Links to social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook 
  • Links to external content repositories using pass-through managers
  • Streaming educational videos and podcasts
  • Links to structured LMS courses should tracking and/or registration be required
  • RSS feed integration

Learning and development resources include social information exchange tools such as:

  • Forums where people meet for informal exchanges
  • Blogs for sharing learning experiences and ideas
  • The Coldwell Banker Twitter page, which provides news, tutorials, and links to helpful tips and tricks
  • Networks for finding and sharing expertise and talent  
  • Social bookmarks, which help learners share the resources that they find most valuable


To measure the impact of informal learning, a multi-pronged approach was designed. This approach includes metrics from Google analytics, single sign-in login records, random micro-surveys, and a 12-question, level-1 survey on portal experience, videos, podcasts, and self-paced courses, with real-time results and comments.

Usage metrics and feedback confirm that the MBA Portal is making learning more accessible, personal, and engaging. Coldwell Banker's long-term goal for the portal is to teach, inspire, and empower managers to coach their real estate agents more effectively, thereby maximizing the profitability of their business.