' What makes the best E-Learning Programs? '
That's a very good question because probably like you I have seen some pretty awful e-learning programs!
After On the Job Training, Instructor Led Training, and Coaching the use of E-Learning usually comes fourth as a training preference for most organisations. So it is a high priority for learning and development professionals these days. But how to get it right that's the question!
To answer the question, I am going to look at three key contributors to the success of an e-learning program:
So let's start with the content.
Today's learners want content that is:
ENGAGING. The content look and feel needs to make a really positive and powerful first and lasting impression.
The best e-learning programs have a real ' Wow ' factor when it comes to their appearance. There is a recognisable and consistent ' house style ' that runs throughout the program using graphics and colours which are attractive to the eye and depict that the program is state of the art.
The designer has used a variety of visuals to capture and keep the learner's attention including:
- diagrams, charts, graphs, photos, cartoons, pictures and other illustrations.
The designer has also used a variety of media including:
- PowerPoint slides, PDF documents, audio and video clips, online exercises, tests, polls, surveys, other diagnostics, online or hard copy workbooks, and links to other learning resources.
- The program has a voiceover of all the content to enhance the learner's engagement This can be turned off if required.
- The content of each session is logically structured beginning and ending with an overview of the session contents.
- Each session takes no more than 30 to 40 minutes to complete. It is broken down into smaller parts of between 7 and 12 minutes to provide short, concise inputs and to enable learners to absorb the contents flexibly in small bite size 'chunks'.
- The words used are familiar to the learner and the content avoids the use of jargon, abbreviation and slang.
The Best E-Learning Programs therefore are highly learner-centric focusing on the need to engage the learner 100% of the time through the use of high quality and quantity of content.
The Best E-Learning Programs are highly interactive. They require the learner to be an active versus passive learner. This means that the learner will:
- Be highly involved in the use of the different media during the sessions.
- Be involved in Social Media Sharing during the sessions.
- Be required to respond to different Calls to Action during the sessions.
- Be required to complete a Personal Workbook during and after each session to transfer their learning into their day to day work.
- Be required to complete a test before the session at the end of each session to ensure their knowledge improvement.
- Be able to navigate the session content quickly and easily either in a linear or non-linear way.
So much for the importance of really engaging content so now what about the technology? What makes the best e-learning programs is undoubtedly the use of the best technology hardware and software.
The Best E-Learning Programs therefore are extremely interactive requiring frequent and practical involvement from learners. Each 'screen' should require a response from the trainee.
Here are the key points to bear in mind when it comes to the use of technology to create the Best E-Learning Programs.
- You should use a platform which can cater for an unlimited number of courses and unlimited numbers of users.
- The platform contains self-authoring systems to create all the multimedia options you want to use plus others (e.g. Gamification) that you may not want to use immediately.
- The platform needs to be compatible with your other internal systems (e.g. Learning or Content Management Systems, HR Capability Systems, and other enterprise systems such as Client Relationship Management Systems, E-Commerce Systems, Web Conferencing etc.). The ability to integrate the platform with other systems is absolutely key.
- The system should be easy to administer.
- The system should provide easy access to those who are authorized users providing multi portal options.
- The system should be secure.
- And finally of course it needs to be compatible for use with PCs, Tablets and Mobile Phones and other Mobile Devices.
So that completes my look at technology. I have not tried to cover each and every aspect of technology merely the main issues surrounding it. Advances in technology are so fast these days that my only advice in choosing one is to Google the best ten e-learning platforms and go from there!
The Best E-Learning Programs use the best technology available to ensure that their delivery is fast, reliable and powerful.
Strangely enough I have left the best use of E-Learning until last. But that's because I want to give it the most emphasis.
In my view the Best E-Learning Programs are used for the following purposes:
- Be a part of the employee onboarding process.
- Be a part of On the Job Training and Coaching as well as the ongoing Personal Growth and Development of Employees
- Be an important part of Compliance and Regulatory Training, e.g. Health and Safety Training, which must show an audit trail.
- Be a cost effective way of delivering training to dispersed groups of trainees.
- Help organisations to achieve a measurable and transparent view of its employees' knowledge.
- Assist in new product launches and other new marketing/sales initiatives.
- Form part of any significant change management program in which key messages need to be communicated in a consistent way to a large population of people.
- Underpin training in process and systems changes, and continuous improvement projects.
- Impart areas of knowledge which maybe frequently changing e.g. internal organisation structure changes
- Make just in time learning an achievable objective.
- Encourage the use of Mobile Learning
- Encourage the use of Micro Learning
I am sure that my list is not totally comprehensive but I hope that it has opened your eyes to the capabilities of the Best E-Learning Programs.
In summary the Best E-learning Programs:
- Capture and hold the trainee's interest throughout. The content is REALLY ENGAGING.
- Involve the trainee in frequent interactions with the content. The learning experience is REALLY INTERACTIVE.
- Provide fast and easy links to other online resources and social media sites. They open up a REALLY POWERFUL real time learning experience.
- Promote the use of anywhere, anytime, any device mobile learning and development. The technology used is REALLY STATE OF THE ART.
- Satisfy a huge variety of training needs. Because of their flexibility they can deliver REALLY COST EFFECTIVE TRAINING SOLUTIONS.
In closing I would like to suggest that before embarking on e-learning for the first time, or enhancing existing e-learning programs, that you look at examples of the Best E-Learning Programs using the criteria above. You will be amazed at the difference between the best and the rest.