Why ‘now’ is the right time for elearning

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Time is of the essence in establishing long-term success by using blended strategies, says Simon Greany.

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With a COVID-19 vaccine seemingly a ways off, business leaders aren’t waiting around for the tide to turn. Instead, they’re making changes to company operations and resetting assumptions, based on the facts and after having observed months of everyday life altered, marked by working and staying home, travelling less and social distancing.

For L&D and HR departments it’s the same story, with time being of the essence. 

It’s no longer feasible to have a wait and see attitude with COVID-19 and what’s next. When it comes to training and engaging employees to set them up for long term success, L&D teams have to adjust to the situation at hand. That means walking the tightrope of offering employee training programmes that work for the future, but also for the ‘right now’.

But before looking too far into the future of training, there’s a lot to take in currently as a result of COVID-19. For instance, the shift to digital learning and online training is now here to stay.

Brandon Hall Group benchmarking data (June 2020) shows that 0% of organisations plan to increase face-to-face interactions in the next 12 months. That parallels Elucidat’s research, which found that only 12% of organisations plan to fully revert to previous levels of face-to-face training.

For L&D teams that have normally relied on face-to-face training, this puts them in a bind. It’s a struggle to move established processes from an office, conference room or whiteboard to a screen, as face-to-face training sessions repackaged like-for-like as virtual experiences are far less effective.

The other alternative, Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) can also be logistically challenging. For big global employers, both face-to-face and VILT also have an achilles heel in common: they don’t scale well and eat up valuable time.

When talking about time, it’s not just the time of L&D teams it’s also those taking part in the training. The sheer amount of time that employees now need to spend in front of a screen means that properly engaging them is a huge challenge and has to be approached with fresh thinking.

That’s why organisations have looked at other modalities in this new world of online training. In just a couple of short months, e-learning has emerged as the most common approach to online training. 

Elearning and a new path for L&D

While the pandemic has forced many organisations to turn to online training to solve immediate issues, a digital approach to training and learning offers benefits far beyond the circumstances we find ourselves in.

From innovative ways of building connections between learners to enabling on-demand training, e-learning offers wide-reaching opportunities for HR and learning leaders once COVID-19 subsides. But it shouldn’t be seen as a catch-all.

Instead, use it as part of a blended strategy. Within this scope, elearning can also nudge reminders and allow for ongoing support. This is huge for knowledge retention and behaviour change.

When it comes to e-learning and blended training, there are a few things L&D teams should keep an eye out for. For example, learning design specialists could begin to feel like order takers, swamped with demand from across the company.

Also, there may be pushback to letting subject matter experts be hands-on to an authoring tool, namely due to quality and consistency concerns. 

But one of the biggest challenges for elearning is something I referred to earlier, showing it’s a good use of people’s time. You may sense a theme here, but respecting time is a core principle of people-centred learning.

The success of training should never be evaluated by ticks on the clock, but on the behaviour changed and the goals met. So, how can one maximise training impact while taking people away from their day job for as little time as possible?

One way is employing a platform and process that guarantees impact on organisational KPI’s, while also considering everyone’s time. Rather than viewing L&D as the order takers for training, turn them into a centre of excellence.

Essentially, think of L&D as the coach on the pitch, empowering a network of experts who are now collaborators – so they are overseeing all of it and not just switching their focus onto niche flagship projects. Ideally, this model also means they can do more immersive training tailored to specific teams.

All of this creates a win-win for L&D, allowing them to be the architect of a greater and more impactful footprint within the business. It also ensures that training is powered from within the organisation, tapping into what works and makes that organisation successful and sharing that information throughout, instead of leaving staff to waste time trying to find out for themselves.

While it feels like COVID-19 is stealing valuable time from all our lives right now, L&D has a rare opportunity in front of it, to give back that time within their organisation. It starts by delivering more efficient and effective employee training that’s built for long-term success through blended strategies.

About the author

Simon Greany is founder and chief product officer at Elucidat

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