The era of calling all staff into a room for mandatory training and talking at them until their ears started bleeding wasn’t exactly the golden age of employee onboarding.
And, thankfully, it’s on its way out.
As of 2015, 77% of US companies offered online corporate training for employee onboarding and professional development. That number’s set to rise – and for good reason.
Why? Because eLearning’s benefits are well-documented: it’s cost-effective, been shown to boost employee performance, and enhances the accessibility of information crucial to professional success.
Benefits like these aren’t just minor conveniences or piecemeal improvements to professional training conceived more broadly.
They’re part of a revolution in the way people and companies conceive of what corporate training is and how it should be implemented.
Still suspicious? Still nervous that your penny-pinching CTO will kibosh the proposition as soon as it hits her inbox?
You shouldn’t be. NASDAQ reports that the “The Global eLearning Market is poised …to reach approximately $325 billion by 2025”.
While it’s undeniable that the growth of eLearning is tremendous, the financial growth isn’t necessarily the most exciting part about this.
Perhaps even more promising is the power eLearning has to humanize and digitize – and thus, fundamentally transform – corporate education across the world.
When we used an eLearning program to rethink a client’s employee training process – and then deploy it across some of the most geographically diverse markets on the planet – we saw how the shortfalls of traditional employee training can pose a range of professional challenges.
We saw how eLearning can sidestep financial constraints; distributing digital materials is far cheaper and far easier than sending a team on-site.
We also saw how eLearning can allow employees to fit training into times that work for them.
To train employees efficiently, you have to take into account the key logistical challenge of fitting training into your employees’ already-packed schedules.
When used correctly, eLearning is a more efficient, pragmatic, and considerate way to train people than traditional “classroom style” methodologies.
Now, let’s say you accept that eLearning’s undeniable success as a tool for workplace education.
Let’s say you’ve been converted from your eLearning agnosticism.
How, then, are the best ways to implement it in your organization to scale your training methods?
Method #1: Leverage Continuous Education
Traditionally, corporate training was delivered in single – and easily forgettable – bursts. eLearning can be leveraged to accommodate the fact that people learn continuously and iteratively.
It can be deployed even more effectively when issued with the understanding that working and learning are processes rather than monolithic, one-time experiences.
It’s vital to understand that educating your employees offers value to your company throughout the lifecycle of the employee.
Corporate training shouldn’t just stop after someone’s hired; it can be deployed across different levels of skill and experience.
Ongoing education gives employees a greater chance of excelling in their field – ultimately helping companies reduce their bottom line by sidestepping the financial weight of recruiting externally.
According to a study by the Evolllution company, “employees who take continuing education are enhancing their skill set within the framework of their work environment,” and helps make employees “more qualified and easier to promote.”
And while eLearning isn’t deployed frequently enough to suit these benefits, employers aren’t ignorant of this fact: 96% of employers polled in one study agreed that ongoing education has a positive impact on job performance.
eLearning perfectly suits such iterative approaches because educational materials can be rapidly drafted, easily disseminated, and iteratively updated with the power of digital.
This all points to a slew of qualitative benefits for continually educating employees: fostering a healthy environment of iterative growth and a culture of striving towards continuous improvement offers people motivation as well as confidence and skills that come from self-improvement.
Method #2: Embrace Interactive Learning
A common misconception about eLearning is that it’s necessarily repetitive. Its critics suggest that it can never reproduce the personal touch of a one-on-one session.
Well, in a way, that’s true. But that truth doesn’t negate eLearning’s efficacy because it doesn’t necessarily rule out the interactivity that eLearning can be customized to provide.
But the truth is, the cost and lack of flexibility that come with one-on-one learning make it a logistical impossibility, particularly in companies with hundreds or thousands of employees.
There are certainly eLearning courses that don’t harness the medium’s potential for engagement with learners.
There are certainly eLearning courses that simply rehash familiar themes or methods, that force users to click through tedious modules and don’t consider people’s appreciation of one, key theme: interaction.
Instead, the truly effective eLearning course is designed to embrace the vast potential and opportunities made possible by digital environments and online platforms.
Reversing the traditional one-way movement of information from module or teacher to student, interactive eLearning accounts for the recipient of that information to comment, question, and contribute to the process.
Interactivity in eLearning can range from passive experiences – simple videos, graphics, and quizzes – to immersive experiences, simulated environments, and avatars that put the user in greater control than ever before of their learning experience.
How, then, does this help in the corporate environment?
Offering an interactive learning experience to employees has many benefits. In the context of adult learning, it’s common knowledge that inspiring and engaging content boosts information uptake and performance, ultimately fulfilling the goal of all eLearning – helping people learn – more efficiently.
Interactive learning is reactive, meaning that a given learner must consider a scenario and “react” accordingly. This methodology can be harnessed in a corporate environment, with content that’s customized based on an organization’s particular experiences, history, and challenges. Existing employees can help to build such experiences and create realistic scenarios.
Creating course content that’s both rich and interactive can find itself expressed through a story, scenario or simulation that is transposed to an employee’s precise requirements and mirror the type of situation they’ll be in contact with regularly on the job.
Another branch of eLearning – gamification – involves turning training into games, with company leagues and internal interactivity.
Stories can branch out based on the decision making of the student, resulting in a virtual experience that can mimic real-life.
Understanding this can benefit not only the recipients of eLearning materials, but entire companies. Interactive eLearning lets you go beyond the creation of content meant to simply be instructive, but ultimately immersive and even enjoyable.
The days of clicking through 50 modules of multiple choice questions, too, are on the way out.
Method #3: Invest in the right tools
Particularly for quickly growing companies, investing in a learning management system or a similar tool can be a huge benefit. An learning management system or LMS allows you to build a framework or blueprint for your eLearning system and scale it rapidly.
Harnessing an LMS lets you grow your eLearning initiatives precisely as much as you need to while your company grows.
Is your company expanding and opening new locations? A cloud-based LMS gives you the capacity to create eLearning experiences for remote learners that offer both consistency and accessiblitiy – two key benefits of eLearning writ large.
Likewise, having a bank of raining content ready to draw upon allows you to plan ahead, build strategies, and configure new deployment methods.
Similarly, if your company finds itself in the process of building new programs, it’s opossible to leverage an LMS’ reporting capabilities to track the efficiency of your learning programs and content.
The endless customizability of an LMS allows it to evolve as your company evolves, and herein lies a key point about eLearning on the whole: it recognizes that companies and people are fluid. Having the capacity to iteratively design, rapidly deploy, and seamlessly edit or update content gives you a remarkable power to enhance your employees’ satisfaction with and uptake of training.
Likewise, the data you receive from your LMS lets you diagnose where your content needs to be expanded, and where your company needs to deploy additional training, allowing HR and management to better understand their own company’s mission and keep their finger on the pulse of internal goings-on.
But it doesn’t stop there.
With an LMS, you can begin offering content with various levels of training, creating more curated. You can provide courses in different formats and add training in other languages.
As your company evolves, an LMS offers a host of valuable features to cater to your learning needs.
It’s logical to think the advent of the internet – and the accompanying explosion of digital applications that expedite education and the dissemination of information – would make training people easier, faster, and smarter.
Technology has unlocked these abilities. There’s no denying that we, in the digital era, are blessed with a far sharper set of tools for training than ever before. But just because they’re there doesn’t mean that everyone’s using them.
And even if they are, it doesn’t mean they’re using them properly.
Use the ideas above to imagine how eLearning can alter the way your workplace conceives of corporate training.
Because in the modern landscape of corporate education, there’s an irrefutable body of evidence that argues that eLearning isn’t just gentle guiding us to a new future in employee training and education. Instead it’s dynamiting the old order into oblivion – and we should welcome the ensuing explosion.