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Elearning: Cutting through the noise

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2nd Jul 2014
Founder Speexx
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Elearning is a cost-effective and efficient way of delivering training. Yet there is a real danger of online learning being drowned out by the ‘noise’ of other electronic channels in the workplace. Armin Hopp gives us some tips for compelling elearning.

 On an average day, employees are bombarded not only with emails and instant messages, but also with input from collaboration and productivity systems, web conferences and social media. Unless elearning is both engaging and positioned as vital for the future wellbeing of the organisation and the learner, it is increasingly likely that employees will overlook it.

Mobile users check their phones 150 times a day according to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ annual Internet Trends report). According to a report by Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange in 2013 [1], the average American adult who uses social networks, spends an average of 3.2 hours per day on social media. Senior executives and decision-makers spend 40% more time than junior staff on social media.

Against this backdrop, it can be a challenge, to put it mildly, to engage employees with online training. However it is key for businesses to retain skilled employees by making them feel that work is meaningful and one way to do this is through effective learning and development.

Real-world drivers

Tasking managers to develop a learning culture is one of the chief ways of cutting through the noise so that workers prioritise learning. Learners need to understand the real-world drivers for their training. They might need to learn a new language to communicate with existing clients or win new business, for example. They may need to achieve certain certifications to allow the business to go into partnership with others or to show that it is compliant with the relevant rules and regulations.

"If elearning is to cut through the electronic noise bombarding employees on a daily basis, it needs to be at least as accessible as competing channels, such as social media and email."

Despite the potential of the latest elearning platforms, 44% of training departments invested less than a tenth of their training budget in elearning programmes, compared with 47% in the preceding year*. Only 8% invest over half their budget in e-enabled learning. This may be partly because a little elearning budget goes a long way, compared with the cost of classroom-based trainers. On the other hand, it may indicate that organisations are not getting the most out of their learning and development strategy.

If elearning is to cut through the electronic noise bombarding employees on a daily basis, it needs to be at least as accessible as competing channels, such as social media and email. There are signs that organisations are progressively enabling mobile learning apps or remote access to e-learning from any device for travelling and dispersed staff. Speexx found that over a third (35%) of the training professionals it surveyed allow mobile devices at work and use them for learning and almost a quarter (24%) plan to introduce mobile learning by 2016.

Speaking the learner’s language

Elearning content needs to be spot-on to compete with viral videos circulating the internet and hit its target. One-size-fits-all, in reality, fits no-one. People who work in IT, for example, will not relate to training content designed to appeal to financiers. Neither group will respond to generic content. It is vital to speak to learners in the lingo of their industry, otherwise they simply will not hear you.

The latest elearning solutions go beyond tailoring for each sector or vertical industry. Tapping into a person’s working life and learning style demands an individual approach. Personalising learning might include creating flexibility so that people can learn at a time or place that suits them. Using big data and globally interoperable systems, enterprises can become training organisations that cut through the noise and not only meet but also anticipate learner needs.

Top tips to cut through the multi-channel noise

  • Tap into the power of social media to engage employees in training. Over a third (34%) of learning and development professionals believed that social learning would be very effective in the future*. Yet, at the time of the survey, earlier this year, only 22% had introduced a social learning strategy.

  • Use new technology and don’t be afraid of it. If employees need to log on to a PC in the workplace, this limits the time available for training. HR and L&D professionals surveyed by Speexx expect that cloud platforms will play a significant role in their company training strategy in future. Just over a quarter of them expected a cloud solution would allow them to deliver consistent training to all employees regardless of location, while 45% predicted increased flexibility for users. 21% expected cloud tech would reduce direct training costs.
  • Integrate learning systems within existing systems so that people learn as they work. Employees are much more likely to access training if it is provided as a tool to help them with their daily workflow. Need help filling in that complex form? Here is some training to help with that. Need support communicating with an overseas colleague in their language? Here is some relevant training.

* according to the Speexx Exchange 2013-14 Survey

[1] http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspx?id=5954

Armin Hopp is the Founder and President of Speexx. Speexx helps organisations everywhere to drive productivity by empowering employee communication skills across borders. For more information, visit www.speexx.com

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