According to findcourses.com’s 2019 Learning and Development Report, e-learning is the top technology chosen by L&D departments in 2019, and yet the same report states that face-to-face training is still more engaging for employees.
So, what’s the issue?
Technology today offers possibilities in the learning industry that were unimaginable a few years ago. For example, in some industries, theory will only take you so far and practical training is needed to get the job done, which implies putting untrained recruits in what might be uncomfortable or even dangerous situations. Understandably, this is unacceptable for most and so what typically happens is that trainees never see the actual conditions in which they’re going to be working in until after they finish their training.
To solve this, some companies are applying VR and artificial intelligence training to simulate the exact same hazardous conditions or dangerous situations of real work environments to prepare trainees for any eventuality, without ever putting them in harm’s way. And this is only one of the many possible and innovative way in which digital learning is being applied in L&D today.
So why is face-to-face training still more engaging for employees than e-learning programs? While there exist many successful and innovative cases of e-learning in L&D (Learning and Development), that’s not every case, and how you apply a digital learning strategy is just as important as the learning programs themselves.
Developing a successful L&D strategy that makes use of e-learning’s potential is easy, but its success relies almost entirely on how it’s carried out and this will vary according to where it’s applied, who creates the programs and who the learners are. Regardless, there are factors that are essential to all learning strategies. Here are the three most crucial steps to consider in your e-learning strategy to be successful.
Have clear goals
Having clear goals is important in any project, whether it involves learning or not, and it should not be underestimated. Whether envisioned for the long-term or the short-term, it’s always preferable that goals be tangible and measurable, otherwise success will be hard to gauge.When implementing a digital learning strategy, goals can be determined in countless ways. You may want to help employees develop specific skills to better their performance, such as communication or leadership, or maybe your goal is to implement a greater cultural shift towards learning and development in your company. In either case, goals give any project a sense of direction, something to aim for, and this will help you drive your L&D efforts and ultimately achieve success. As a matter of fact, Leadership and Management courses were the most requested type of training according to the UK 2019 L&D Report.
Keep it learner-centric
Second to having defined and measurable goals is knowing your audience. Both the content and delivery of training programs must be taken into consideration and designed with a specific group of learners in mind so as to make learning as effective as possible.
In this case there’s a lot to be learned from fields such as UX and UI which are both user-oriented and focus on how to optimize the user experience. In e-learning, Learner Experience Mapping (LEM) tries to analyze a learner’s journey through a course or learning program with the goal of creating the best possible experience for the learner.
To achieve the greatest impact with your learning strategy, it’s best to align your overall business goals with the professional development goals of your employees and using LEM to better know your learners and their goals can greatly aid your engagement rates.
Measure your progress
Finally, you can’t possibly know if your learning strategy is successful if you can’t measure its progress and the tools you use for this will vary. Many learning management systems have built-in measuring and analytics tools that will allow you to analyse your strategy, but it’s also possible to set your own structure or initiatives to asses the impact of your digital learning strategy and see if it’s aligned with the goals you set beforehand.
This could be in the form of measuring employee performance in terms of the knowledge you want them to acquire by setting specific performance goals or KPIs that align with your programs’ content, or you could have a more direct approach and ask for feedback from learners.
It’s important to keep in mind that this step might also include having to reassess and recalibrate both your goals and content based on the results of your analysis. Being able to learn from and adapt your strategy is common practice for successful businesses and should never be considered a failure or setback, but as yet another step towards growth.
Louisa Garcia Moreno is a content editor for the professional development portal findcourses.com. Based in Stockholm, she has written articles on a wide range of subjects about trends within education and professional training, such as L&D, cultures of innovation and leadership.