If you haven’t completed any online training or e-learning courses for a while, you might be surprised to discover some new approaches to learning and development, especially in the online space. Do you know what microlearning is? Do you know if your employees favour personalised or experiential learning? Is asynchronous learning something that happens online?
eLearning has come a long way since the days of PDF downloads, death by PowerPoint, or talking head videos that never seem to end. Technology, coupled with a deep understanding of the science of learning, has taken e-learning to new levels on several metrics, such as completion rates, engagement, knowledge acquisition, and, importantly, application. Here’s how the science of e-learning, overlaid with advancements in technology, can level up your organisation’s L&D.
This type of learning can be completed independently, according to your employee's pace and schedule, or within a broad window of time. “With our busy lives, short attention spans, and myriad of daily interruptions, all successful corporate learning and development should be asynchronous,” said Michael Gullan, CEO of G&G Advocacy, an e-learning consultancy that provides innovative online learning and training solutions to corporates in Sub-Saharan Africa. “Individuals have different schedules, KPIs, personal commitments and learning styles, and L&D professionals are seeing far greater results using asynchronous online training.”
Personalised and adaptive learning
This relatively new approach does not take a one-course-fits-all approach but customises or differentiates the curricula according to individual employees. “Technology has enabled organisations to personalise their e-learning and training so that employees are no longer required to work through courses not relevant to them or through information they already know. Successful e-learning should pick up from where the individual’s existing skills end,” said Gullan. “You cannot achieve this with off-the-shelf e-learning software. Your technology should understand each employee’s weak points and increase or repeat learning content until the learning outcomes are achieved.” Gullan explains that adaptive learning still requires data analysts to interrogate the e-learning data but will soon use AI for immediate analysis and adjustments.
Learning by doing gives employees the chance to apply their learning directly or indirectly after completing a course. “Online experiential practices can be achieved via simulations or case studies, giving employees the opportunity to apply their new knowledge in a safe environment,” Gullan said. “This enhances confidence as employees have a soft-landing to learn from their mistakes before they apply their skills in the workplace.”
This is the most important aspect of adult learning, focused on short but detailed learning tactics. “Microlearning delivers only relevant, key information to the employee that directly matches the learning outcome. So if your employees need to know how to sell a product, or use new company software, microlearning will take the form of five- to ten-minute Content CapsulesTM, designed to achieve the desired outcome. Traditional e-learning might involve lengthy lectures on the history, theory, and other superfluous content not directly related to the learning outcome.” Gullan said. “This not only wastes employee's time, energy and interest but also detracts from the impact and success of your corporate e-learning.”
Gullan added that when it comes to applying these learning strategies, it's also beneficial to understand that individuals learn in different ways. Some are visual, some learn more effectively with auditory stimulation, while others prefer to read and take notes. Ensure your e-learning includes diverse, rich learning material, such as audio, video, text, and, of course, multiple opportunities to integrate their knowledge and recall via multiple tests and quizzes along their learning journey.
Corporate Learning and Development has come a long way from in-class training and intranet PDF courses. It should be linked to your organisation’s goals and carefully designed to upskill and reskill your teams so they can be ahead of your competition. Employees without the appropriate skills and information will be anchors to your success, but with the right e-learning, you can turn your workforce into a force.