Delivering Measured eLearning Results
Here we look at how to plan successful eLearning that will transform results across your organisation - and it all starts with defining your training needs in the context of wider business goals.
Get the planning stage nailed, with buy-in from all your stakeholders (including your learners), and the rest can fall into place and feel like a breeze.
The problem with many eLearning projects though - as with many technology projects - is that so many people leap straight into choosing the solutions before they’ve really identified and agreed on their current and future training requirements.
So here we’ll offer a step by step guide to successful eLearning for L&D managers so that your colleagues and learners will love you.
eLearning is Now an Expectation
eLearning is now a common way for organisations to deliver training and your employees are likely to have used it in some capacity - even if it’s just during their education or a company onboarding process.
It has now evolved into a standard way of making training content available any time and anywhere, enabled by ubiquitous internet access by mobile or WiFi, and by websites or learning platforms making it accessible on phones and tablets, as well as a desktop computer.
During and post-pandemic, eLearning will be the only way for training to happen at all for many organisations.
So as there are now fewer barriers to delivering eLearning and it has become so important, here are key steps for making it effective:
1. Needs Analysis and Consultation
Arguably, this is the most important part of an eLearning project, because if done well, it gets everyone on board to help you and gives you the reasoning and structure for every subsequent stage.
- Why this project? What are you looking to achieve? If you have eLearning in place already, what improvements are you looking for, and if you don’t - what do you want this project to bring?
- Is eLearning suitable? Usually, the answer is yes - as knowledge-based content allows learners to consume it at the time, place and pace that suits them. However, for some manual / skills-based roles, it may not be the case, so could traditional, face to face training or a mix - blended learning - be the best choice?
- Cost-benefit analysis - what might this project cost and what are the expected business benefits in terms of cost-saving, efficiency or revenue generation?
- What do your learners want and need? Listen to their views on knowledge and skills gaps, and where there is an agreement, look at a bottom-up approach to complement top-down from L&D and HR management. If learners feel that they have contributed to the process, they are much more likely to engage when the eLearning is ready.
2. Resourcing the Project
However small your L&D team, delivering an elearning project should always be a collaborative project and involve multiple professionals.
The same person may perform more than one, but rarely all of the roles below, so the L&D manager will need to resource at least the following:
Who will lay out the milestones and timescales and work to keep everything and everyone on track?
Subject Matter Expert (SME)
Depending on the nature of the training, the person or people who understand the subject and can lay out the curriculum and materials.
The person who can translate the content into the storyboards and course progression to help people learn in the most effective manner, with an understanding of what works in an electronic format.
The technician with the skills to turn the plan into the reality of an eLearning course, including text and images, audio, videos or any other media, along with the ability to track, measure and collate data on learner progress.
Unless you work within a very large L&D team, you’ll need to look outside your organisation and outsource some or all of the above roles. A specialist eLearning company will tend to have skilled professionals with experience in working well with clients or taking responsibility for the entire project efficiently.
So how do you choose the best eLearning company for your needs if you go down that route? Many will have slick sales professionals and showcase multiple awards, but what matters most is experience working with companies like yours.
If you are part of a large, global organisation, does the eLearning provider have experience at that scale and of multinational, even multilingual projects?
Do they have experience in your sector?
These details are much more important than a sales presentation!
3. Design & Development
Again, planning this stage in advance is key. Does your project need to run within a specific timescale or a particularly tight budget? Both these factors will affect the nature of the eLearning that is feasible.
What mode of delivery is most suitable for the nature of your training and your group of learners? Text and images might work well for purely informational content and knowledge retention, whereas training the ability to adapt to on-the-job situations like customer service may lend itself to scenario-based training and something more interactive.
Close collaboration between the subject matter expert and the instructional designer will allow for the content to be delivered in the best possible way while adhering to any technical constraints.
The instructional designer then needs to work closely with the eLearning developer to bring the content to life, ensuring that it works well on any device that may be used and that it is accessible for any type of current or future learner.
4. Quality Assurance
An important point here is that quality assurance (QA) is not a task to be done only by the developer as a final step. Good QA is done independently by someone external to the design and build process, as those people may have become too close to see all the potential real-life issues.
Ideally, the project managers, SMEs, and end-user managers and even selected learners will all have the opportunity to offer feedback on eLearning before it is signed off and rolled out.
5. Roll Out & Implementation
Most technology-related projects that fail do so not because of an issue with the product, but with the communication and implementation process.
New systems often turn up as yet another piece of work - something else to think about and squeeze in around the existing workload.
If there was adequate consultation at all levels during stage 1, the implementation of eLearning should arrive not as a surprise and even as a welcome addition, because the benefits to learners and managers will have been communicated and expected.
Rather than having to convince employees to engage with your new eLearning, the focus can be on guiding learners and managers in how to make it work well for them.
6. Measurement & Evaluation
How will you measure the benefits of your eLearning project?
What metrics will the L&D team measure to judge effectiveness?
What metrics do other stakeholders care about?
Along with your own learning outcomes, taking the targets of other departments into account will help to make this a more collaborative and successful eLearning project.
Don’t neglect subjective feedback alongside the quantitative results in terms of learning outcomes and business impact. How much your learners enjoy and engage with the training is an important factor when looking at how well it will work for future learning needs, and what you might want to change or tweak.
All eLearning projects are unique, but by following each of the six key steps above, you can help to minimise the common risks and maximise the benefits and overall success.
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