Online Learning, eLearning, Distance Education; call it what you will, training employees online has grown to become a multi-billion-dollar industry. Despite its success, many business leaders and decision makers are still unclear about what online learning actually is, and misconceptions about price and effectiveness are still rife.
Since 2004, we’ve encountered all of the common objections to online learning: online learning can’t compete with classroom training, or online learning can’t hold employees’ attention, but training people online needn’t be as terrifying as you might assume.
The benefits of online learning are almost too many to mention, but it’s important to realise that every company is different, and it’s up to each one to weigh up the pros and cons of online learning for themselves.
With all the talk of SCORM files, HR system integrations and automated reporting, online learning can seem a confusing subject to the newcomer. To make the transition to a cloud-based training solution a little easier, here’s a list of the common terms you might encounter on your journey.
How does Online Learning work?
The last decade has seen outstanding advances in internet technologies which has created a wealth of options for training employees online. Online learning is now available on mobiles and tablets, as well as desktops, making it a flexible, secure and scalable training solution.
Generally speaking, online learning is delivered via a learning management system. On a basic level, this platform lets learning managers and administrators:
- Add and co-ordinate learners
- Upload training content
- Push the training to the learners
- Report on the learners’ progress
Because the learning management system is online, everyone from managers to employees can access it whenever they like, and wherever they are. This makes it very convenient to manage the training for a global workforce and it means that new starters can complete their onboarding – even before their first day on the job.
The freedom and flexibility of online learning also future-proofs it for changing working patterns, meaning even casual workers can receive all of the training they need in their own time.
The Engagement Crisis
Online learning has changed the game when it comes to training employees, but its arrival hasn’t been without teething problems. Learning managers are coming to realise that earlier attempts at online learning solutions have failed because they didn’t put enough focus on engaging the learner.
These ‘legacy’ learning platforms were designed merely to fulfil the basic function of giving learners access to training material. As these systems failed to produce any real behavioural change, learner engagement became recognised as more of a priority.
Today’s learners spend a large part of their time engaging with a multitude of online platforms and this has ingrained a subconscious expectation for a certain level of quality. To maintain their credibility, learning management systems and other instructional technology need to meet the standards set by the most popular apps and services.
Fixing the Engagement Problem
Getting learners engaged with online learning can seem like a riddle too complicated to ever solve, but we believe that the key to engagement is to give your learners something that they enjoy and want to come back to again and again. With an approach focused on engaging the learners, there’s no reason why your training programme shouldn’t be a roaring success from the moment you roll it out to everyone in the company.
The issue of engaging learners online is easiest to solve when you stop thinking of your training platform as an LMS, and start thinking of it as a machine for driving engagement throughout the organisation – an ‘Engagement Engine’ if you will.
An Engagement Engine uses 3 main tools to engage learners.
- Personalisation: Custom features and personalisation options make the training more relevant, meaning the organisational goals are filtered down through the whole experience.
- Gamification: Adding game mechanics to the system makes the learning experience more fun, more exciting and more compelling for the learner.
- Social Features: Features like discussion boards, live chat and news feeds help build a learning community, capitalise on informal learning and capture organisational knowledge.
Online Learning is the future of staff training, but it’s something that needs to be approached with learner engagement in mind. Before you start exploring your options, download the Engagement Engine workbook – our interactive guide to building an online learning programme that delivers real results.