E-Learning Evolves to the Next Level (Part 2)
By: Client Training Corner
In Part 1 of our series on e-learning tools, we explored the myth that new technologies and strategies in the e-learning space are too costly to integrate in these difficult economic times.
In fact, new e-learning tools are much easier to implement than in the past and can be equally successful if executed properly.
In this article we will shed light on both the emergence of online authoring tools, as well as the move towards “We-learning.”
Emergence of Online Authoring Tools
Web authoring tools have experienced an explosion in the last few years. Many organizations are looking for cost-effective and efficient tools to educate their employees.
Are there systems out there that can be accessed via the Web that allow you to develop robust learning solutions, deliver them, and in some instances, even track progress? The answer is “yes.”
More and more vendors have made the move to online authoring tools due to the demand for flexibility and simplicity in their systems.
The fact is that not every organization has a full-fledged training department with unlimited resources.
Online authoring tools can facilitate the development and time required to launch online learning modules, allowing you to do more with less.
They require no software installation — while multiple people within the organization can access them by logging in through the Web.
The cloud has opened up a whole new world for this type of e-learning development.
Also referred to as SaaS (Software as a service), this type of solution allows an organization to be free of the usual constraints of hosting and application maintenance.
There is usually an on demand component to these models, which allows organizations to purchase only what they need, as opposed to all of the bells and whistles available to them.
Many of these vendors are also offering “boxed” courses, which can be extremely useful if instructional designers or content developers are scarce within an organization.
Depending on the vendors’ capabilities, these courses may be offered in various languages, an increasingly important factor as many companies now have offices all over the world.
Online authoring tools can also include limited evaluation functionality, collaboration features in real-time, administrative functions and a content review process.
Moving Towards “We-learning”
We-learning, also known as social learning, informal learning and even collaborative learning, is moving from an intangible concept to something that organizations are actively trying to implement.
In theory, We-learning is simple. It’s based on the idea that every organization possesses a collective pool of knowledge and experiences that can be collectively harnessed if captured and disseminated in an everyday solution.
This trend has been fueled by budget constraints, the increasing ability for all employees to be connected in some form or another and the many tools emerging in this space.
Because We-learning relies on knowledge sharing, it removes the need for instructional designers and curriculum developers, thus making the content creation component much more cost-effective.
Translating this concept into a meaningful experience for employees is easier said than done.
One of the first tasks before undertaking We-learning is to truly understand the audience. Where do they work? How savvy and wiling are they to interact with social platforms? How would they prefer to access and use the information they will gain?
In essence, the system(s) you decide to implement must flow organically through your employees’ everyday routine. This process should never take them away from their everyday tasks. Instead, it should support and enhance the work they are performing on a regular basis.
Many organizations are skittish when it comes to allowing employees to publish their own content. The fear is that they will post inaccurate and/or inappropriate material.
But the fact is that very few employees would risk doing so, damaging their reputation. The vast majority will make a concerted effort to add meaningful content to the threads and topics.
The integration of We-learning taps tools that are familiar to most people. In fact, with this type of learning, it’s less about the sophistication and complexity of the tools and more about their innovative application.
Formats such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, videos, articles, training materials such as manuals or task aids, etc. are all valid platforms to drive employee engagement and learning.
The key is to encourage the use of these tools, while outlining clear expectations in how they are to be used and what the end goal is as an organization.
While integrating these types of e-learning solutions might at first seem daunting, it is a valid and economical means to advance employee development.
To wait for the economy to “turn” before engaging employees in learning is a dangerous strategy to follow.
Instead, a little ingenuity will go a long way towards providing employees with fresh opportunities to develop their skills and knowledge, which can only help your organization in the long run.