For over a decade now, eLearning has been the most preferred model over physical classrooms for corporate training programs. These training systems have traditionally been software-based because of the sheer bandwidth required to store learning packages and to access them. But there have been a few developments in the recent past that have made cloud-based eLearning systems the more preferred choice.
The primary reason is the falling prices of storage and internet access. High speed internet is no longer a luxury and this has made it cheaper for businesses to store their course packages on the cloud and permit their learners to access it over a browser. But more importantly, the change has been driven by a rapid increase in the number of remote workers. Even small and medium businesses are no longer tied to a geographical location and this has necessitated a shift to the cloud.
At the outset, there are a few fundamental differences between cloud-based training modules and their desktop counterparts. The first and foremost difference is that cloud-based training programs are OS-agnostic. Subsequently, a course package can not only be accessed over a Windows or Mac computer, but also on Android or iOS based mobile and tablet devices. This brings down the deployment time for eLearning software developers.
The ability to access courses over a mobile device has also brought about a definite evolution in learner behavior. Learners are no longer tied to a computer while accessing lessons. It is not uncommon for such corporate learners to access courses while on the commute or from the comfort of their home. Given the distractions, while commuting, eLearning courses today can longer be text-heavy like in earlier times. A large number of corporate businesses today emphasize on visual course packages that are easier to learn from while on the move.
In essence, the modern eLearning system has to fulfill three criteria - it needs to be accessible over the cloud, be responsive to mobile interfaces and finally be visual-heavy. This is provided by the dozens of cloud-based learning management systems in the market today. These tools are mostly subscription based and are popular among small and medium businesses since they require no software-installation and are essentially plug-and-play. It however needs to be pointed out that cloud-based LMS tools are also less open to customization and subsequently, there are fewer opportunities to incorporate your own branding or personalize the dashboard. This should however not be a problem for SMBs that do not have stringent branding guidelines.
Another area of focus while building a cloud-based training module is the delivery setup. Depending on the lessons being imparted, your training program might need to be a real-time broadcast. Most modern LMS applications come with video conferencing and webinar modules that permit real-time broadcast. But this is not always ideal, especially if your readers are located in different time zones. Also, live broadcast is not a good pedagogical method for a learning course that requires discussion. They are better suited when you need a one-way communication from the trainer to the learner.
Alternatives for this model include the use of learning repositories like Google Classroom and the use of online training tools with built-in assignments engine. Assignment tools make it possible for learners to evaluate themselves on their lessons and is handy for remote teams where most of the lessons are self-learned. But perhaps one of the biggest advantages that cloud-based training modules bring is the ability to assimilate results and metrics from various learners. This helps trainers ‘gamify’ the process by building leaderboards and offering badges to learners who perform better.
All these features make cloud-based learning a unique process that is significantly different from desktop-based alternatives. As a trainer, this necessitates a fresh pedagogical approach right from devising eLearning content to delivery and performance evaluation.
Co-founder and marketing director at Digital Media Group, content marketing and branding agency out of Salt Lake City, UT. Helping small businesses reach their goal by providing useful knowledge and skills.