Online learning and e-learning have never been more important. The pandemic is forcing new ways of working and reducing our ability to train face-to-face. Meanwhile the user experience and integration capabilities of learning platforms has been getting better and better, and the choice of deployment-ready course material targeted at the needs of different groups is also becoming broader.
In practice, the vast majority of organisations already rely on online learning and e-learning in some way. However, a surprising number only take an ad-hoc or reactive approach to online learning rather than building a more sustainable and co-ordinated approach at the heart of their Learning & Development (L&D) strategy.
Here are ten of the many reasons why online training should be a key component of any long-term L&D strategy.
1. Learning is part of digital employee experience
Employee experience is an increasingly important concept where organisations are taking a more holistic, consistent, and coherent view of all their touchpoints with employees. By improving employee experience, they can attract and retain talent, and drive better engagement. Within this, digital employee experience plays a role. Learning is a key part of employee experience – employees expect to be able to develop their careers and have opportunities for personal growth, but sometimes learning is not always as integrated into the digital employee experience as it could be. Online training can play a significant part of bringing learning into the heart of digital employee experience and into the daily flow of work. Any L&D strategy should ensure online training is a key component.
2. Achieving ROI on your digital workplace investments
Organisations are making significant investment in the digital workplace, often through platforms like Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams. When you ensure you have learning available through easy availability of online courses through a Learning Management System you are both driving adoption of digital workplace tools and supporting a valuable use case. This absolutely helps you achieve the ROI on your digital workplace investments; in this case it always helps to have your L&D strategy and your digital workplace strategy fully aligned.
3. Classroom training is rarely scalable
Classroom-based training can be important, but it requires considerable effort and cost in terms of premises, travel and time taken out of work by trainers and staff. This increases exponentially when training is delivered to a global workforce. In practice, it means classroom-based training is simply not scalable.
Not all classroom-based training can be replaced by online learning, but a considerable amount can. Online learning is far more scalable and cost-effective, meaning you can provide more learning opportunities for staff wherever they are located. Costs are reduced, and the reduction in travel is also good for the environment. Online learning is also extremely easy to roll-out, again demanding less time and effort, meaning you can also respond quickly to learning needs, a factor which has proved important during the pandemic.
4. Democratising learning for everybody
In most organisations not everybody has access to the same levels of training courses. Because online learning courses are so easy to roll-out, it means it is far easier to give access to courses to all employees, regardless of their location. This means you can offer the same learning options to knowledge workers in offices and firstline workers in production plants or out in the field (sometimes through mobile devices), and the same level of choice to those in HQ and those based in different countries. You can even offer online learning across your supply chain. This supports training for standardised processes and knowledge across global and complex companies, and also effectively democratises learning by making it available for all.
5. Putting the learner in control
Online learning courses are usually offered on-demand, meaning that each individual employee has more power to control their own learning path either by selecting appropriate courses or choosing when to learn, at a time convenient to them. This has two positive impacts; it totally changes an individual’s relationship with a course and puts them in control, meaning they are more likely to actually want to take a course because it is of interest. It also means that course completion rates are higher; even if it is a mandatory course they have to take, it means they can complete it a convenient time within a very busy working week. Overall online learning empowers individuals, leading to both effectiveness and efficiency.
6. Driving digital literacy
The digital literacy of employees where they have the awareness, knowledge and confidence to use the new digital workplace tools at their fingertips is regarded as an increasingly important factor for successful digital transformation. A digital literacy programme should accompany the roll-out of Microsoft 365, for example. Here online learning is an excellent way to support the roll-out of digital tools, not only covering how to use tools, but also why and in which scenario. There is already a huge choice of ready-made Microsoft 365 course material available and allowing employees to access these, often right at the point of need, is especially powerful. Another focus area of digital literacy is also around cyber-security; here again numerous ready-made courses are also ready to go.
7. Ready- made online learning covers most of what you need
The e-learning market is very mature meaning that there is a vast amount of high-quality course material formatted (SCORM etc.) and ready to drop into your Learning Platform. This covers everything –softer skills, technical skills, highly specialist professional skills, knowledge and awareness and more. With the complexity of roles and related training needs within any one organisation, having access to the breadth of training available has considerable advantages in supporting the training needs of all staff, particularly specialist or niche roles.
8. Supporting knowledge-sharing a culture of learning
One of the great things about online learning material, particularly when it is delivered in bite-sized chunks including videos, is that it provides an excellent set of knowledge resources in its own right. Making it searchable delivers results; for example if is somebody is trying to use an IT system and needs a quick instruction video on how to use a particular aspect of it, they can search the learning catalogue and get a high quality, authoritative bite-sized video to meet that immediate need. Making this available not only solves problems, but also can have in interesting side effect of supporting more of a culture of knowledge-sharing and even learning within an organisation. This can help drive experimentation, innovation and more.
9. Supporting compliance
Sometimes learning is driven from a compliance angle and you may need to introduce mandatory learning to reduce risk, satisfy a supplier’s demands around product awareness, meet professional demands from a regulator and so on. Online learning and e-learning is usually the best way to achieve this, particularly if a learning platform has the ability to track who has taken a mandatory course.
10. Supporting employees in the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a massive challenge to the way we live and work. Online learning can make a difference in difficult times in helping employees get used to new ways of working and navigate new tools they need to use to facilitate remote working. In practice, classroom-based training may also not be possible for the foreseeable future, so investment in online learning takes on more urgency. Finally, the depth of the current economic challenges means budgets are severely constrained; the relative low cost and ease of roll-out of online learning may prove to be a sensible option for current investment.
Announcing our new partnership with G01
With learning across the digital workplace so important, we have teamed up with GO1, an established leader with online learning that provides access to our clients to thousands of courses from multiple content providers. Our partnership with GO1 builds upon our existing relationship with the team at LMS365, a leading learning platform that seamlessly integrates with Microsoft 365.
GO1’s course catalogue is wide and covers a very broad range of more general and highly specialist course material that is ready-to-deploy in an LMS. GO1 also offer different options to access the courses. If you’d like more information about the new opportunities to access online learning content created by our partnership with GO1, or to discuss learning in the digital workplace, then get in touch.