You’ve already invested in eLearning, and you’re reaping the rewards. Or maybe you’re interested in why you should be investing in eLearning. Here’s a snapshot of some of the benefits to you:
- Empowering and motivating your workforce with training that slots simultaneously into their work routine, without depriving employees of desk time in the office.
- Functional, engaging learning that can be revisited when convenient.
- Tailored to every part of your workforce’s individual, distinct requirements.
- Affordable, fully manageable in-house and adaptable.
But how can you scale your eLearning investment effectively?
I – with the help of a little research – can help you there.
eLearning is Growing; Scale With It
eLearning is growing (just take a peek at the diagram below), and you need to learn where to invest your learning and development (L&D) money, fast.
Expected 2015 Investment in LMS Software (Sample of US HR Professionals) – Source: Learning Management Systems Userview 2015, Software Advice
The LMS market is expected to grow from $2.55 billion in 2013 to $7.83 billion in 2018 and from a wider perspective, the global eLearning sector is expected to reach an estimated worth of $107 billion in 2015.
Clearly, now is the time to focus on ROI as you expand your eLearning L&D plan.
In this article I’ve collaborated with an industry expert and colleague of mine, Richard Anderson, and examined a few different sources of industry research to understand how and where you should be investing your eLearning allocated L&D budget.
Let’s begin with which particular eLearning techniques you should be incorporating into your online corporate training strategy.
Getting the most out of your LMS starts here, and from using the following techniques, you’ll benefit from increased success in your staff training programs.
eLearning Techniques You Should be Using
Concise, conversational content
First and foremost, eLearning course content should fulfil the purpose of its use (i.e. enhancing an employee’s relevant knowledge for their job role).
But educational content doesn’t need to be complex and detailed!
How to implement: The days of endlessly clicking next are coming to an end; consumable bites are more important than long modules. Content should be easy to navigate, enjoyable to read and collated in manageable chunks.
Making your content informal, friendly and even a little chatty will aid you massively in engaging your users with the course.
Adopt a more conversational tone when writing your courses from now – as a guide, think of how a manager would chat with one of his employees, rather than the kind of language typically found in a textbook.
Searchable & tailored training
Managing your company’s internal eLearning software allows you to tailor your training program to particular divisions, departments, projects, teams – even drill down as far as personalising it to individual employees!
However, despite our best efforts to tailor training to our employee’s individual needs, it is probable that material which covers existing knowledge will slip through.
This discrepancy between the knowledge we desire our workforce to possess and the knowledge they already possess creates a barrier to learning for some of your workforce.
More damagingly, it tarnishes the social element of eLearning – we’ll cover that a bit later.
How to implement: Establishing each training user’s initial knowledge level is time consuming and unrealistic. For most companies, this is not the solution.
No – instead, to enhance content to the necessary level, it should be made searchable for ease of locating relevant content.
The rationale behind this is that our tech savvy generation are able to search sites like YouTube, and expect to be able to do the same with their training courses.
Searchable content means that training users with existing expertise can search for knowledge gaps to save time and frustration, whilst users with little prior knowledge can proceed through the entire course as intended.
It’s beneficial for users at all learning stages. Even users who have absolutely no knowledge of the subject may find one area in particular quite difficult to understand, and can quickly navigate to this area time and again to solidify their expertise in this area.
Incorporating engaging offline learning aspects
Establishing a regular online meeting where a manager or external tutor can explain some of the topics in more detail can be a big help in retaining training users’ interest.
How to implement: The key here is to communicate this aspect of the course as a support mechanism.
Course features that draw from offline methods such as this should only be supplementary elements of the course which users do not need to uptake if they feel that they entirely understand the course and do not require assistance.
Not all your training users will enjoy the thought of this – remember, they agreed to learn via eLearning, and you don’t want to force anyone into learning in a way that they didn’t originally express interest in.
For those who are interested, the online meetings could be conducted weekly or more frequently if necessary.
Video streaming of the manager/tutor, along with active, live comments from session viewers, allows for learners to benefit from a more social, interactive learning experience.
That leads us quite nicely on to our next technique.
Cultivating a social eLearning experience
Your LMS should exist as a ‘lobby’ in which students can engage with each other, sharing opinions and perspectives, posing questions, addressing issues and assisting one another throughout the learning process.
The theory behind this is that with the ability to challenge one another throughout the learning experience, the entire process of learning will be enhanced if made as collaborative, open and social as possible.
How to implement: Messages of encouragement could be posted by tutors and your LMS could also host peer-reviews of resources and materials.
There are so many resources available from which training users can further their knowledge, so, whether they’re sharing articles or simply discussing course content, the social side of your eLearning is an important learning booster that could just give your organisation the edge.
Assessing your employee’s knowledge
The multiple choice exam still remains the best way of testing applied knowledge.
For managers, multiple choice assessments provide clear guidelines as to what has or has not been learnt.
From a quick look at the statistics for each question, you can easily identify any problems that your workforce are encountering, and subsequently seek to address the issue.
Allow me to provide an example to illustrate this.
One group of employees in Spain were struggling with the ‘Cheques’ section of a money-laundering eLearning course that they were undertaking as part of their training.
It was soon established that staff were struggling to get to grips with this particular area as it had no relevance to their actual job roles. As a result, management were able to react to this and alter the course accordingly.
How to implement: Multiple choice questions should be a standard feature of any competent LMS; if you’re dissatisfied with your current LMS, why not take a tour of eFront’s LMS features?
Our eLearning Program is ready, what now?
Following these simple directions will aid you in maintaining the most resourceful eLearning program. However, this is only the beginning.
The diagram below displays just how expansive the array of eLearning methods available to us – as employers – is:
What you must decide is what’s most appropriate for your particular industry – for your business, culture, and workforce.
Research can however give you a nudge in the right direction:
eLearning Trends in Specific Business Areas
So, now that you’ve streamlined your company’s eLearning program, you’ll find yourself re-investing in this revolutionary training tool year on year (YoY).
But in which area of your business will eLearning be most effective?
This table shows us which industries LMS software is being invested in.
From its results, we can make certain inferences as to why eLearning is more popular in some business areas and industries than others.
Unsurprisingly, industries such as retail in which skills remain broadly practical, verbal and face-to-face have little investment in eLearning as a training tool.
From my personal opinion, industries such as Manufacturing will receive higher investment YoY as these processes become increasingly automated.
Areas highly dependent on technical know-how which can be easily delivered with eLearning courses – such as Technology and Financial services – are investing the most in eLearning software.
Could this trend in investment be replicated internally within your business?
Departments with needs similar to those of IT and Finance will benefit the most from eLearning as a concept.
Unfortunately there appears to be little research in eLearning investment by industry or department, but utilising all the above research, you’ll be able to commence streamlining your eLearning L&D strategy successfully.
Adhering to the principles I’ve described above will enable you to develop your eLearning program, whilst maintaining its use and purpose – right down to the individual level.
- eLearning is growing; your L&D strategy must be sufficiently robust for successful scaling.
- Content should be snappy, searchable and conversational in tone; this way, it’ll be enjoyable to navigate, read, engage and learn from.
- Treat every area – whether that’s standalone employees or an international division – with individual compassion. Tailor and adapt your eLearning to their needs.
- Incorporate offline training aspects; this allows for increased support and adds a dimension of variety to your course (examples: video streaming, live chat – simulates the experience of offline training methods).
- Focus on building a social eLearning environment to create a collaborative culture between training users that enhances the process for everyone involved.
- Use multiple choice questions as an assessment method for ease of problem identification.
Author bio: Jordan Bradley works for High Speed Training (HST), a fully accredited specialist eLearning course provider based in the UK. He enjoys his responsibility of managing HST’s Hub – a blog which posts weekly insightful articles on a range of topics related to their array of online courses. Jordan spends the rest of his time running around the countryside, travelling on weekends to visit friends he wished lived closer, and fighting hard in the battle against laziness, amongst other things.
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