For many businesses, eLearning solutions represent a real change from the tools they previously used to train employees. That means leaders won't green-light these systems without a good reason. Throwing away years of ingrained programs is only worth it if the replacement is strong and helpful. Fortunately, this is the kind of experience eLearning can deliver. It's inarguable that switching away from a wholly in-person class model with instructors on-site represents a very different approach to education. However, the legacy version of training is showing its age, and a quick comparison with eLearning can show executives where their future lies.
"Designers have learned a great deal about complete learning experiences."
Things have changed for the better
A recent Chief Learning Officer piece contributed by Bersin & Associates founder Josh Bersin explained that this is not the first time eLearning has become a priority. Today, however, the trend is far more helpful to potential users than it was around the turn of the millennium. The technology of 1999 pales in comparison to today's offerings and, perhaps more importantly, designers have learned a great deal about what makes a complete learning experience. Bersin described the impact of both types of evolution, IT and strategic, and explained why this time the eLearning revolution is set to stick.
Bersin noted that today, online interactions are more human and personal than in the past. While there may have once been a disconnect between people using computers and the content they were creating and consuming, the gap has almost disappeared. People are able to clearly state their purpose and interact with one another. Instructors can lead employee training seminars or just deliver bite-sized pieces of content. Bersin also pointed to the rise of video as a significant Internet difference between 1999 and the present. Connection speeds weren't fast enough to make video a viable communication method at the turn of the millennium. Now, however, it can enhance eLearning.
According to Bersin, the arrival of smartphones on the tech scene represented another step down this path to modern eLearning. Now, individuals are always carrying devices that can plug them into a video ecosystem. If trainers can launch mobile learning strategies with no loss of information compared to desktop versions, more employees than ever could become part of classes.
As for the tactics and new approaches that can elevate modern eLearning, Bersin pointed to blended experiences. Spending 100 percent of training time in a digital system may be less exciting than an overall training strategy that incorporates other forms of teaching.
Association for Talent Development blogger Ethan Edwards recently explained that perhaps some developers aren't harnessing the great improvements that have been made to the field. He urged these designers to get beyond the text-based versions of eLearning lessons that have proliferated since the field first emerged. While software that does not reach its potential may create no particular attachment in users, Edwards called for tech that will create a connection with learners. If pupils feel they are being rewarded for learning and the lessons are relevant to what students actually do in their day-to-day roles, they may stick with courses more tenaciously. Going beyond bland text may help companies design courses that meet these objectives.