There is a difference between using eLearning and making it work well. Companies that put in the minimum effort are unlikely to get optimal results back, and whether they manage the processes internally or work with a partner, there is ample incentive to polish eLearning solutions until they shine. The traditional method of training presented problems for companies, coupled as it was with high costs and timing headaches. However, replacing it won't do any good unless the new project has been calibrated to deliver the information correctly. Getting eLearning to a high level is vital for fast-evolving fields such as systems training, which simply won't work with antiquated methods. There are a few checklist items leaders can inspect to ensure their courses are working.
"Perception impacts whether learners take courses seriously."
Sharply presented, always improving
A recent list by Business 2 Community contributor Jay Malcom contains a litany of small issues that can apply to training programs. Many of the items he suggested could be easily overlooked by an inexperienced course designer, but need to be handled to ensure the finished product works the way it's supposed to. For instance, what if the slides in a presentation hold too much information? Such an overload might weaken the retention benefits that come with eLearning, so Malcom recommended splitting them apart and putting less content on each screen. A little more scrolling through is a small price to pay for more natural information delivery.
Malcom also stood up for slides with a strong visual identity. If they are tied together by generic images gathered online, they won't have the proper effect on the viewers. Perception is important as to whether the learners take the course seriously. If they see an image they know is clip art, they may believe the presentation at hand was quickly assembled or is lacking in valuable information. Whether those facts are true or not hardly matters at that stage. Minds are made up, and that's a serious problem that leaders might not recover from.
Improving an eLearning program on the fly is also a good practice, one recommended in Malcom's overview. He stated that there should be an organized space to collect opinion and feedback on the performance and usefulness of a course. If the program is working, users should be able to say so. Perhaps even more importantly, channels to collect negative opinion can be used to redirect resources to fixing the material's flaws and aligning it with what learners really want and need. Also important after the fact, according to Malcom: Sessions that will reinforce what was just learned, to ensure facts stay fresh.
Digital culture rising
One of the main reasons to concentrate so hard on the development of eLearning is that today's workers are digital natives, prepared to engage with important information through tech but critical of substandard offerings. As Training Zone contributor James Timpson mentioned in a blog post, there are opportunities to work with today's employees on all parts of their mission - both personal and in relation to greater company goals - through eLearning solutions. This is part of a full-scale change regarding everyday practices in the office. Timpson pointed out that if an individual was born in the 80s or later, that person likely expects constant availability of IT.