- There has been a surge in the e-learning investments made by organizations
- However, L&D teams usually find it difficult to understand the contribution an e-learning platform makes in capability development of employees
- Follow our 5 step framework to maximize your e-learning investment
Online learning is the way forward for organizations to develop skills and enhance the capability of their employees. For large global organizations, it also allows them to provide a consistent learning experience to all their employees, and manage scale with ease.
The decision to invest in an e-learning platform or subscribe to an e-learning service provider is a critical one. Several employees, including the leadership team, spend time identifying the most suitable platform. After a detailed evaluation, the choice is made. The roll-out of the platform in the organization is done with an extensive internal marketing campaign.
There has been a surge in the e-learning investments made by organizations
How effective is e-learning for your organization?
The learning & development team measures the consumption of the platform using various metrics. The platform shares extensive reports on consumption, scores, coverage, etc. However, the team usually finds it challenging to understand the contribution the platform makes to the capability development of employees.
Providing an e-learning platform is just one piece of the puzzle
Organizations expect that providing unrestricted access to an e-learning platform will revolutionize the way employees learn. The access will help, however, there is so much more that the organization needs to do to use its investment fully. The success of the platform in transforming the talent capability would depend on the overall learning philosophy in the organization.
L&D teams usually find it difficult to understand the contribution an e-learning platform makes in capability development of employees
How to make the best use of your e-learning investment?
Through years of consulting in this area, and designing learning experiences for different companies, I am sharing my thoughts on how you can make the most out of your e-learning investment.
Step 1: What behaviour do you want your learner to exhibit on the job?
Whether a learning initiative is delivered through e-learning, via an in-person session, or by sending executives to an outbound retreat, you need to define the learning objectives first to provide a sense of direction. Without this clarity, you will have no way of measuring if the learning was effective.
This is even more crucial in case you are using a third-party e-learning provider, as the content is already available. It may not cover all your needs as an organization. However, to evaluate the content, you need to start by defining the end goal.
Step 2: Create an ecosystem of learning
E-learning programs in an organization are unsuccessful when you offer the without a proper ecosystem of learning. E-learning is only a piece in the overall learning for employees.
Most organizations have an ecosystem defined already. With little effort, it can enhance the learning culture within an organization. The elements that comprise a full ecosystem are:
i. Sponsorship and Leadership Commitment: Often at work, employees hesitate to invest time in learning. They worry that the organization will question them on the "hours taken away from work" and spent on learning.
As a result, many employees spend time on learning after office hours or during weekends. Leadership must clearly communicate the importance of learning and their commitment to it.
Their presence in the initial few days of learning activities assures the employees, and they do not hesitate to invest time in learning.
In organizations where I consult on learning design, I insist on the leaders to be part of learning sessions whenever they can. In case of e-learning sessions, I ask them to inquire about the progress of the sessions occasionally. This communicates to the employees that their leaders are committed to their learning. The employees invariably participate with more enthusiasm.
ii. Access to 'just-the-right' e-learning resources: Easy access to e-learning resources facilitates learning. While this may seem to be an easy step, the choice of learning content is important. For convenience, organizations sign up with players that offer the maximum number of courses.
This can be very confusing for the employees, as they get distracted by the clutter on the learning platform and end up investing their time in courses that may not be relevant.
A more discerning approach to what is being offered to the employees may appear counterintuitive, but is more effective.
Sometimes, employees ask for plenty of resources, however, do not use them. As part of the learning design, I recommend the learning & development team to provide a limited number of learning resources initially.
This encourages employees to focus more during the learning session and get the most out of what is available. Only once they come close to the end of the program, I provide additional resources which can add more value to their learning experience.
iii. Creating a support network of SMEs: E-learning or classroom learning aids in building familiarity with the concepts. Adults learn by asking questions, reflecting, engaging in a dialogue, or doing things.
If an organization is using e-learning (whether through an external partner or through custom content), then they should identify internal SMEs who can provide clarity on questions of the employees. These internal SMEs understand the organizational context and can help employees translate their learning into application faster.
For one of my clients, I was working on the capability enhancement of their sales staff. The sales staff would mostly be away from the office, visiting their customers, and therefore they would only have time to reflect on what they have learned, towards the end of the month while creating their sales reports. We identified internal experts who they could reach out to for instant query resolution as they implemented their learning.
iv. Implementation of learning: Adults learn best by implementing what they have learned. As part of a robust ecosystem, the learning & development team in partnership with business must provide an opportunity to implement what they have learned. This could be through projects, assignments, shadowing, participating in an ongoing project, or any other opportunity.
While working with an organization, we faced a challenge that the organization could not commit additional time and resources for implementation.
Together with the learning & development team, we changed the design of the program so that the entire team learns together, instead of learning in smaller groups.
After every session, the team members would challenge each other to use the new methods learned, thus leading to immediate implementation and better understanding of concepts.
v. Recognition of talent: There should be a mechanism to recognize the talent that performs well. The employees who are able to translate the learning effort into desired behaviour at work should be acknowledged. The type of recognition would depend on the maturity of the employees.
Since employees like to express their thoughts and share their achievements on social media, I issue skill badges and certificates, which the participants love to display on social platforms. I communicate the qualification criteria clearly so that the participants can work actively towards earning them.
Step 4: Monitor results
While I mention this as step 4, the measurement starts very early in the overall design. You must measure the employee capability at the start of the learning initiative. This helps you measure the effectiveness of the learning initiative.
Besides measuring their current capability levels, you should also measure their confidence. You could read another blog, Is being confident hindering your success? to see the benefits of measuring confidence in addition to capability. This pre-program assessment also helps in creating meaningful learning journeys. Click here to know more.
In all the learning experiences, I share the data with the participants on the areas where they feel confident but have an incorrect understanding of the concepts. This simple exercise helps them be more committed to the entire learning process. It also stokes their curiosity positively to discover more about areas where they are otherwise confident.
Step 5: Improve the experience
The final assessment or evaluation is not the end of a learning experience. It is the start of designing a better experience next time. At the end of every learning experience, you must seek feedback from the participants and sponsors.
You should process their observations carefully to bring in improvements to the learning experience. This will help you continuously improve your offering and make it more powerful with every iteration.
Our 5 step framework helps you maximize your e-learning investment
While it may be difficult to identify the right e-learning platform or provider for your organization, however, selecting a good platform does not guarantee success.
The success lies in utilizing the platform and creating value by following the five-step model described above. In case you would like to discuss more about it with me, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or setup a call with me.