The education sector isn’t always known for its innovation, but digital options are starting to creep into universities in the form of YouTube lectures, MOOCs, and other entertainment-based formats. They’re a sign of old education traditions finally beginning to adapt to modern life, but there’s plenty of work to be done yet. While school-based learning is starting to innovate, corporate learning has yet to embrace digital options.
On companies learning online
Companies have entirely different challenges when it comes to e-learning. They don’t have the traditional structures that may hold back universities and schools, and therefore fewer excuses to hold them back from digital learning. Some have denounced work-based learning as ‘backwards’, but if the figures are to be believed then this is not the case. The e-learning market is booming, worth a total of $91bn. In this multi-billion dollar market, corporate e-learning is proving to be one of the most impressive growth segments. According to Roland Berger, the corporate e-learning market is expected to double by 2018, thanks to an average annual growth rate of 13 percent. Recent studies reiterate the importance of e-learning at work for job seekers, with a recent StepStone Absolventenstudie saying "personal development opportunities" as a relevant factor in the job search for 94 percent of applicants.
Use it, and use it well
Companies realising the demand for corporate e-learning and investing in a Learning Management System (LMS) must do so with an understanding of how it can be tailored to the needs of the organisation. There’s no use having an LMS just for the sake of its existence. The idea of the LMS is that it will supplement existing learning opportunities. As the online shopping trade doesn’t replace high street retail stores entirely, an LMS doesn’t replace offline learning either. If the system is implemented correctly though, it will deliver cost-savings, ensure learning is convenient and user-friendly for employees, and offer a tailored, individual education experience.
Make measurable learning outcomes
Cost-savings, and convenient and user-friendly tailored learning are the ideal outcomes of an LMS. However, the system also needs to be linked to factors such as succession and career planning to be a value-adding measure that goes beyond the standard ‘proof of completion’ and brings lasting success. Everything else is just a hope. Much like in advertising, ads and posters are and were important, but only the online activities are truly measurable. Again, it is very dependent on content and the target audience, which channels are used and measured and are thus successful.
To be successful, the LMS must be attractive to users, be linked to all major HR processes so its contribution to success can be measured, and have mechanisms in place to show which tools are useful and which need to be readjusted.
Why don’t we just Google it?
The challenge now is to offer the right knowledge at the right time. HR is now competing with Google and Youtube when it comes to information access and learning. The future belongs to ‘learning on demand’, which provides on-request answers and solutions to a specific problem. Learning now has to be rapid, specific and social, and must act linked to the individual employee profiles. It needs to increase measurable performance, broaden knowledge and close skill gaps for the next career step, and enable a comprehensive learning path for the employee.
Effectively spreading knowledge digital
As Henry Ford once said on marketing, "I know that 50% of my marketing budget is wasted, but I do not know which half." The same question now applies in corporate learning: how can we spread knowledge most effectively?
In typical business contexts, compliance and mandatory product training are held as a PUSH-training from HR, while extended social or thematic content trainings are often available on-demand. So what’s the best approach?
1. Shift your learning on the ‘pull’ side. The employee should take training into their own hands and be confident.
2. Career planning and learning must always go hand-in-hand. Arrange career paths, identify gaps in skills and abilities, which are then discussed and form a training plan.
3. All training should be scattered, ideally via a central learning platform. This LMS should include a learning catalogue from which the employee can select interesting offers. Collaboration tools support the exchange of staff as well as the recommendation of learning.
4. Learning must be attractive, so that it is used. When the LMS too different from commercially used software, it is perceived quickly as stale and dusty. The decisive factor is an attractive ‘look and feel’, which is judged in terms of speed, user interface and design of ‘commercial’ standards. User-friendliness and experience of popular online shopping solutions and social media portals provide a possible simple and intuitive access to all relevant HR processes for the employees.