Much hope and many expectations are concentrated on E-learning, it being one of the sectors of ICT (Information Communication Technology) with the highest growth margins, and where huge investments have been made.
By “e-learning”, we mean a new way of learning which is different from attending traditional lessons in a classroom. It is a methodology of learning and/or personal training that uses an integrated set of technological tools for distance communication.
There are three basic ways in which you can use these tools:
- learn independently (self-training);
- learn with partial assistance (tutoring);
- learn by receiving information and assistance from a trainer (teaching).
The Internet and the Web are efficient and up-to-date means for distributing teaching materials and providing courses, as well as for exploiting the great potential for interactivity and collaboration.
Interactivity is guaranteed thanks to the fact that it is possible to communicate with teachers, professors and other students. Courses are not delivered via DVD, CD-ROM or a video recording.
The training is often in a “live” format and participants have the opportunity to “electronically” raise their hands and interact in real time. Sometimes, the lessons have been pre-recorded, but there is always a teacher who interacts/communicates with the user and evaluates their participation, assignments and tests.
E-Learning has proven to be a successful training method and is becoming a way of life for many people.
E-learning: is it suitable for me?
E-learning is not for everyone.
Courses offered in this way offer a great amount of flexibility as it is possible to choose times and dates. On the other hand, it is necessary to have the sufficient self-discipline to process materials, learn them, and keep up with the rest of the study group.
Although you may not be sitting in a classroom with other students, e-learning courses are often composed of a group of students, who although learning the materials separately, are expected at the same time to interact with each other through discussion forums during the week, usually through an online classroom management system.
Deadlines are usually given for assessment tests and tasks, to be delivered on specific dates. It takes real self discipline, as well as time management and organisational skills.
Only those who possess these characteristics will be able to use this new learning methodology effectively and efficiently.
E-learning for companies
E-learning is a learning method which is spreading widely, also in the business environment.
Interest by companies in e-learning is growing, which has a number of implications: e-learning, in fact, addresses all aspects of business, relating to the reduction of costs, better access to information, accounting and increasing employees’ skills.
For many businesses, e-learning is becoming a critical issue, especially for those organisations that want to optimise the use of their workforce.
The areas in which company e-learning is most effective are:
- Retention: many studies have shown that e-learning is a method that stimulates a positive correlation between learning and retention. Employees who have access to the training they need claim to remain in the company for longer periods.
- Culture and employees’ Attitude: Those employees who can access training are more likely to consider the company they work for as “a great workplace”
- Better performance of the workforce: from an analysis of 6,000 professionals, it emerged that 85% of them believe that training led to a moderate increase in their skills and knowledge and 53% said that training produced a significant increase in their productivity.
- Customer Service: a lot of research has shown a strong correlation between customer satisfaction and the attitude of the workforce that attended courses on “teamwork” and “training and development”.
Moreover, from a business point of view, e-learning is a method for distributing training programmes at any time, anywhere, and at a cost that is economically advantageous.
This is why technology is a valuable tool for supporting learning: in many cases, a mixed solution combining traditional learning and digital learning is the best choice.
Some learning systems are equipped with:
- Support for trainers: they can download the online material required for any training situation. Trainers can use the mobile app to present ppt, download and share PDFs for printing and host videos on any screen. The app can be available in several languages, giving additional flexibility to trainers and students, who can choose the language they prefer.
- Flexibility for students: they can access information before, after or during the session.
- Data for administrators: they can access user analytics, obtain interaction information, send notifications to new students and add courses.
This examples clearly show the great opportunities that e-learning offers; HR professionals must embrace technology and exploit it to improve the learning experience.
6 ways in which e-learning affects your business
Corporate training is a billion-dollar industry; corporate spending on labor force training has increased year on year and is not expected to stop soon.
Is e-learning able to significantly reduce learning and development costs?
E-learning can certainly be a more convincing and effective method when compared to traditional methods, but e-learning programmes must be well thought out and well implemented.
1. Reduction of business training costs
Organisations strive to become more efficient in their operations in order to reduce costs. This means renewing their processes, procedures and systems.
These changes require employees to gain the most from business training, and has become increasingly necessary. E-learning can play a key role because:
- It provides relevant training to help employees adapt and respond to changes.
- It facilitates independent learning so that it reduces costs.
There are many companies that have used e-learning in an effective way to affect costs:
- Shiawassee saved $170 per person through the use of virtual meetings.
- The Michigan Office of Public Health saved $7,000 in a quarter by using online training sessions.
- Xerox saved $150,000 from a single online training event at a Canadian business unit.
After transferring 70% of its training to independent studies, video and e-learning, Discover Financial reduced friction by 42% and increased its employee satisfaction index by 6%. This is a big advantage for the company, especially if we consider that hiring new employees is a significant cost for employers.
2. Improvement of revenue: higher profits per employee
It does not matter how innovative a training method is; ultimately, any company is oriented towards maximising profit. This is certainly a reasonable point, since they spend a considerable sum on training their employees.
An infographic compiled by Aurion Learning has shown that companies that combine e-learning and workplace training have increased their revenue per employee by 26%.
A case study published by Limestone Learning also showed that, within six months from the full implementation of an eLearning solution, a customer retention centre had “additional $15.1 million in win-back accounts revenue”.
3. Employee Empowerment
Companies that use e-learning for training increase their employees’ engagement. When employees are busy, they are happier, more productive and produce better results.
Kenneth Chan, founder and CEO of the eCommerce site Tobi.com, said “Overall, it is the employee who creates or destroys the company. In a sense, by giving them the right knowledge and training, you also empower your company “. Chan believes in the power of e-learning to ensure that his employees have the know-how and tools to meet the needs of his customers.
At Plantronics, effort has been made to introduce new and intelligent working methods for employees who live in different areas in Europe. They have implemented e-learning so that people do not “feel distant or isolated”.
4. Advantage over competitors: skill development to become a state-of-the-art company
Definitely, training and educating the workforce is a big advantage for your business.
In recent years, companies have invested significant resources in corporate training, since they are convinced that the development of employees’ skills can lead to a competitive advantage over other businesses.
Not only does training improve your employees; but it also acts as a magnet: your competitors are looking for the same candidates to hire; generally those who come from the same schools and academic backgrounds.
By differentiating yourself from other companies, offering a training program that adds to the employee’s curriculum and focuses on their professional growth; employees will be motivated to become part of the group.
They will feel respected, valued and appreciated: this is a key factor if you want to surround yourself with a network of quality collaborators.
5. Increase in retail sales and other topics
When it comes to sales, training is fundamental: you have to teach employees about sales techniques, and product/service knowledge. This allows them to improve the sales process and increase profits.
The effectiveness of company training is successful when employees have a deep knowledge of the products and have the necessary information and skills to complete negotiations with customers.
E-learning can help train employees in these aspects because:
- it allows rapid training about the product. It is possible to create courses and provide training as soon as a product is launched or even before its launch;
- it offers courses that allow you to know all the fundamental information about products; sellers will have in-depth knowledge and be more effective;
- it facilitates greater coverage because it trains employees in different places at the same time;
- it is a means of support, as employees can recover and review content whenever they wish;
- it is a good opportunity for sales personnel who, in their free time, want to achieve their training objectives.
6. Complying to the Rules
Today, the increasing attention paid to corporate ethics and workplace rules force organisations to be compliant with the latest laws and regulations. If you don’t do so, the risk is that you will incur legal problems, which will also affect your company’s reputation.
Training relating to compliance with employee regulations is important and e-learning solutions are an effective response to this because:
- Training can be provided in multiple languages and is available to all employees at any time
- A large number of employees can be trained efficiently
- E-learning makes it possible to provide a complete picture of all the legislative regulations, which can be distributed in a microlearning mode.
E-learning: innovative applications that revolutionise company training
The examples we have covered in the previous sections allow you to become familiar with e-learning and understand how this technique can bring benefits to your business.
E-learning is becoming more widespread and many companies are trying to use it in an innovative way. In these examples you will see the extent to which, with a bit of courage and inventiveness, you can apply this learning technique.
1. Connection of employees through learning management systems
The “tandem system” can be very effective when it comes to training and achieving professional goals. This is especially true when you pair up a beginner with a more experienced worker.
In fact, in the commercial sector we tend to match newly hired sales representatives with the more experienced ones for the first period.
This is because, at the beginning of their career, a senior employee might have had the same questions as the new employee. Therefore, drawing on their experience, the senior figure is able answer the colleague’s questions.
This system can be transferred to the digital world through learning management systems (LMS) that offer mentoring, coaching and communication functions.
Many companies group employees together to form classes, teams or departments, creating a seamless flow of communication. The newly-hired know they will receive the help they need, thanks to the knowledge and experience of older colleagues.
Learning management systems help provide training materials and organise skill development within your business. These systems can be extremely useful, but they can also be complicated.
The abundance of available LMS features makes it difficult to decide which ones are helpful and which will be a distraction.
Before comparing any specific LMS solution, you need to identify and clarify the specific learning goals of your organisation. These could include:
- Updates on security certification
- Regulatory compliance
- Internal learning opportunities
Defining your goals will help you choose the best LMS features for your business.
Whatever your needs are, there are some important features to watch out for before deciding to implement a learning management system:
1. The creation of the course
This feature appears to be included in all LMS software, but the most basic definition of LMS does not include a course creation module. Some options require you to bring your content, which means you will need to create videos and content in a separate system and import them into the programme. Finding LMS that includes course creation features will help optimise the processes.
2. Monitoring of skills and certifications
The monitoring of skills and certifications is one of the most important LMS functions for almost every type of user. It’s good to train your employees, but you will not have any elements for measuring performance and improvement if you’re not monitoring skill development and certifications or, at least, the completion of the course. Tracking the skills learned and certifications completed will also allow you to show your employees the progress they are making; it enables you to provide them with immediate feedback on their progress.
3. Mobile learning
It is a surprising fact, but some people do not have a computer at home; a smart way to overcome this problem is mobile-ready learning. When your LMS offers mobile capabilities, including responsive design or native mobile apps, users can access training from anywhere using any type of device. This is particularly useful for certifications which require study after a working day or for geographically dispersed teams, where learning can take place between a call or a visit.
4. Asynchronous learning
One of the best features for improving engagement and memory is asynchronous learning; this allows students the possibility to complete a course at their own pace. The combination of videos, online readings, messaging platforms and question/answer forums, where users can interact with the material at their own pace and within their own deadlines, helps promote buy-ins and improves performance.
Learning for the sake of it is a great theoretical idea, but in the real world (which your employees experience), you will probably have to foster this process. Gamification capabilities can turn learning into a friendly competition. It may not make the topic more interesting, but adding gaming features to your courses and training programmes will engage students, speed their progress and increase compliance.
6. Video conferences
Students that requires individual attention or have complicated questions will benefit from LMS’s inclusion of video conferencing. While messaging cards and emails can cover most communication needs, videoconferencing allows you to have more specific conversations.
7. Social learning
In a reflection of our daily lives, learning has also become social. Therefore, your LMS should include features that help students learn from each other. Not only does it improve the learning process, but it is a great way to reduce the pressure on trainers. By adding messaging cards and social learning features, students can ask and answer questions in a forum setting. The best way to show your understanding of a subject is to teach it, meaning that your students can train each other.
8. Ecommerce and subscriptions
Many LMS programmes provide a channel to publish your content to a wider audience, so you are able to earn money from what you’ve created. In this case, you should look for an LMS that allows you to access learning content. In order to complete a course or a learning module, users provide their email address, make a one-time payment or pay a monthly subscription. By adding a course with subscription to your website, you can increase the revenue of your business.
2. Effective training by Microlearning
After following the required training and obtaining excellent results, it is important not to interrupt the training process. This could lead employees to forget some of what they have learned and their work performance will deteriorate.
Microlearning is an effective method that can reduce this problem. It is a training method based on reduced teaching modules, which can be completed in a matter of minutes. The brevity and incisiveness of this system also makes it possible to keep users’ attention and interest at a much higher level.
Through microlearning, information is easier to assimilate and helps with processing knowledge.
3. Using Gamification strategies to set a clear path
Games are fun and gamification has added a new level of involvement to LMS platforms, which has proven useful in the professional environment.
In 2014, Cisco invested in a social media training program for contractors and employees. The programme included more than 46 courses, which resulted in a high level of involvement among participants. Most did not know where to start, so the company chose to introduce certification levels into the game. They created three main levels – Specialist, Strategist and Master – and four sub-levels.
The team’s challenges encouraged friendly competition. This provided motivation and gave participants a series of objectives to achieve in order to complete the programme. Since gamification was implemented, more than 650 Cisco employees have completed over 13,000 courses and received certifications.
Mobile app: a bridge between microlearning and gamification
If we take a step back, we can look deeper into a point which links the three aspects we have just explained.
The mobile apps, covered in the first part, in fact, leads to a business learning process that connects Microlearning and Gamification.
As we have already said, mobile apps for business training offer users the opportunity to learn at any time, anywhere, with the advantage of being able to access the learning content even when offline.
As the use of microlearning and gamification increases (both for formal and informal training), the adoption of mobile apps also increases.
Mobile apps are systems that suit the characteristics of microlearning and gamification: in fact, they allow the distribution of shorter, more incisive and easily accessible content.
Advantages of using mobile apps in business training
Mobile apps for business training offer numerous benefits, in particular:
- They are ideal for people who look with fast moving information.
- They are suitable for accessing and enjoying online and offline content.
- They provide access to just-in-time information.
- They increase completion rates of training programmes.
- They are increasingly popular among the young.
From the business point of view, they provide an excellent channel to send updates and stay constantly connected with other users.
Mobile applications, which exploit the characteristics of microlearning through gamification and personalised learning, are now available for business training.
It is possible to design an app to improve the user’s personal skills. In the design phase, you can insert gamification concepts so that its design and logic will be more engaging. You can also plan strategies to customise each learning path in advance: the mobile app is able to provide customised training programmes, according to inclinations and characteristics of the user. As to formal training, you can design a professional mobile training app.
In this case, you could develop an app with:
- Evaluations (at the end of the challenges)
- Scores and rankings
- Access to specific content to strengthen learning
4. Employee retraining
LMS platforms allow you to record, archive and organise content so that employees can learn any skills at any time. Therefore, their productivity will reach its full potential.
These e-learning systems allow retraining of employees without having to ask external collaborators or newly hired people.
Being able to evolve is essential, especially in an environment where technological changes are frequent: an LMS system allows companies to train employees about the latest news, allowing them to adapt to dynamic contexts.
Companies will have the possibility to go through a list of employees who have the skills they need, and to identify critical areas, so that the necessary training can be provided to bridge these gaps.
These processes would take much longer and would be much more expensive without the help of e-learning.
5. Allow senior employees be flexible
As they grow older, employees often feel the need to have part-time jobs or jobs that allow them to spend some time outside the office, at least for short periods.
E-learning has led to the creation of an ideal situation: older people can now work at home for part of the job.
Many organisations are giving older employees training roles they can work online from home. This also allows experienced workers to share their skills and help maintain a competent workforce.
E-learning also has other advantages for older people. Education has proven to increase self-confidence and aid creativity. This can have profound socio-economic benefits for older generations.
How to draft a budget for business training with e-learning programs
When you are drafting your business training budget, the first matter you need to consider is how much to spend and on what to spend it.
Regardless of whether you are maintaining or updating your current training, when you get a new training model, which moves from classroom learning to e-learning, the first step is to create an accurate budget. Not only does this mean knowing the cost of each activity, but also evaluating what you have and making sure that your spending generates profit.
Here are some tips on how to create and use a budget correctly, in order to understand the value of corporate training and ROI.
1. Know what you have
It seems an obvious statement, but it may not be that simple. Most organisations have a training budget and know how much is spent on training each year. However, calculating your budget does not mean just knowing how much you’ve spent. You should also know how much you will spend in the future and what you will receive from your investment. You should also consider the resources you have at your disposal, and which of them might be useful now and/or in the future.
Using this information you can set limits that you can use to define your budget and measure your ROI.
This can be a basic inventory of initial resources, but it’s just the beginning.
By planning how to use resources, we can begin to create a more complex budgetary framework which will help us to understand the real tangible value of our training.
2. Determine the cost of your resources and content
Any type of training, whether it is created internally or purchased externally, generates content. It is necessary to perform an audit of previous available content and analyse it. In this way, according to the expected training requirements, you will know what you have at your disposal and what you must create by investing in new resources.
Training resources, however, go beyond simple content. You should also evaluate the learning experience itself and the individuals’ development.
Who leads and coordinates the training? What skills does your organisation need to start an e-learning programme?
If you use e-learning, you may need ICT staff to take care of a learning management system, graphic designers to work on customising programme content, Instructional Designers and Content Developers to plan, write and modify the content of the programme.
Solutions to these probelms must be included in the budget.
3. Save on costs
Training is often considered to be a burden, which involves additional costs for the organisational budget. One answer to this criticism is to make the training smarter and more efficient. By introducing e-learning, you can make significant savings on execution time and save on costs.
Through e-learning, it is not necessary to send staff on training courses: you won’t pay travel costs and productivity will be maintained. Moreover, in traditional training sessions it is necessary to combine the schedules of several participants, which is a difficult task to achieve, especially if a company has many employees.
Traditional classroom training sessions tend to be unique events. Even if participants leave with their own copies or a link to an online version of the content, very few employees will actually review them.
E-learning, on the other hand, is always available and it allows employees to learn when they want and at their own pace – it is a great way to make content available at any time without the need to schedule new training sessions.
4. Estimate of maintenance costs
Although e-learning may appear to be a cheaper option (since it reduces expenses deriving from singular training sessions), it often involves other costs.
Even if you have some ready-made content, you need to distribute and update it: if you do not have the necessary ICT skills, you may need to acquire them.
Likewise, if you do not have the necessary IT infrastructure, such as a learning management system, you may need to purchase it under license or purchase it from your e-learning provider.
Changes in thematic areas and content may require updating the e-learning program. You may have the resources to make these changes or you may have to acquire the necessary tools to do so. If the necessary changes are substantial (new legislation, for example), you may need completely new courses.
Again, the question is whether you have the requisite skills or whether you need to find a supplier to provide courses.
For international organisations, there is also a potential cost in providing content in different languages and addressing specific market issues.
5. Cost/effectiveness ratio
In order to have a more complete view of the training budget, it is necessary to measure the cost/effectiveness ratio. The goal is to check whether the costs incurred for the training programmes have really led to the better training of your employees, and improved performance.
E-learning is also an effective method for storing information: many studies have shown that after a traditional lesson people will forget what they have learned in a short period of time.
By making e-learning available, on multiple platforms and devices 24/7, you help improve the storage of information.
Microlearning – a method that promotes small learning blocks that can be seen in 5 to 15 minutes – which helps people to memorise concepts and allows them to continue their training as they need it. E-learning uses multimedia and learning strategies which capture the user’s attention. As a matter of fact, it uses real life scenarios and gamification to engage students, which motivates them to learn.
E-learning has the potential for increasing the use and reuse of content. This means that the content you create or purchase can be used countless times and in a variety of different ways, thereby regularly reaching a wider audience.
6. ROI generation
Academic and business research has clearly demonstrated that investment in training creates a more productive and highly skilled workforce.
Investment in training is also a good indicator of business success.
Training is successful when it becomes an integral part of the working environment. Therefore, the goal is to invest resources to create autonomous corporate learning.
This means that you’ll invest your training budget in talent and collaborative learning.
Encouraging and enabling employees to take control and responsibility for their own training and make them train co-workers are the next logical steps to undertake if you want to encourage students to learn at their own pace. This approach makes training closer to what is really needed at work, it makes its relevance more evident and its benefits more tangible.
Gamification in e-learning
Many organisations decide not to exploit gamification logics in e-learning programmes because they are convinced that it involves higher costs and a long period of time for development.
Others believe that gamification strategies can damage the seriousness of the training, leading to unsatisfactory results.
But is it really like that?
The answer is obviously not and, most importantly, this is based on objective research and case studies. If you want to deepen your understanding of this topic you can find six successful cases in this blog where gamification has significantly enhanced corporate e-learning programmes.
In particular, when it is applied to e-learning programmes, gamification allows it to:
Optimise and make the learning experience more engaging
The user can have fun during activities and learn thanks to a high level of involvement.
A good gamification strategy with high levels of involvement will lead to an increase in user retention and a higher rate of return.
Improve the learning environment
Gamification in e-learning provides an informal and effective learning environment and helps students to practice real life situations and challenges in a safe environment. This leads to a learning experience which facilitates students in remembering the content.
Get immediate feedback
Gamification provides instant feedback so that students know their results, what they have achieved and where they have failed. This also contributes to the involvement and retention of users.
Facilitate behavioural changes
Gamification goes beyond awarding prizes, scores, badges and rankings to increase employee motivation and involvement. The objective behind gamification strategies linked to e-learning is rather to stimulate and motivate important behavioural changes in the employees. The game can be exploited to empower and thus enhance people, pushing them to perceive training no longer as a duty, but as a stimulating activity to be carried out.
Apply it to all e-learning programmes
Gamification can be used to meet most learning needs, including the introduction of new staff and the subsequent induction procedure, techniques for selling products and services, customer support, development of soft skills, creation of awareness and compliance with corporate values.
Have a real impact on the results of company training
Because of all the aspects that affect participants in training programmes (better learning experience, greater attention and retention, behavioural changes and so on) the synergy between gamification and e-learning leads to a significant increase in employees’ performance, which will benefit the whole company.
Gamification in e-learning offers many advantages but the results will depend on the strategy that is used to guide learning. The key factors for successfully exploiting gamification in e-learning are:
- Capturing the attention of the participants
- Stimulating and engaging people
- Challenging them and making them responsible
- Transforming training from a duty to voluntary activities
Gamification & e-learning: successful cases
Many companies have already implemented gamification strategies in their e-learning programmes, exploiting the available new IT technologies. Below we have selected the most interesting cases for you.
McDonald’s Till Training
This is a very popular example. When MacDonald’s wanted to train its staff to use a new cash register and a new ordering system, it turned it to a game with scores, challenges, timers and feedback.
Employees had the opportunity to train in an environment that was close to their actual work situation. The fact that it was a game, however, made employees aware that the consequence couldn’t be a possible bankruptcy.
What was the result?
McDonald’s said that, thanks to the success of the game, their revenue increased by 23 million pounds.
Virtual Reality House
In this case, the application simulated the situation faced by plumbers: plumbers could virtually exercise their repair skills, all the details of a real house and the problems that can be found inside it.
The game was designed on different levels incorporating different levels of complexity.
The idea was to let users engage in the game, in a context where making mistakes was not a tragedy. As a matter of fact, people transition from the virtual world to the real world faster because they will already know which techniques and solutions to apply when faced by certain problems.
WalMart’s security education programme
This programme has had a huge uptake: over 75,000 workers have used the programme to get updates on security and compliance procedures.
The programme was delivered through microlearning and workers scored points while they were training. Workers could choose levels and learn according to their needs. Results were quite significant: after 6 months, WalMart reduced the time wasted by over 50% and the the rate of work related accidents also decreased.
The future of e-learning
It is increasingly evident that the most important resource for achieving business goals is human capital.
In order to have a competitive workforce, it is necessary to make use of all the systems a company has, and e-learning represents one of the best techniques.
Companies that have understood the potential of having a competent workforce have already implemented e-learning; in the near future there is going to be a real explosion in this phenomenon, and we will see it achieve its full potential.
In particular, we will witness:
Video based training
While guided classroom training is still the preferred method of providing employee training, video-based training is on the rise.
This provides a virtual classroom, which allows teachers and students to communicate with each other via the Internet. Information about the training team, teaching materials and tasks are typically delivered via the Web. Users can access the website of their training class to view information and they can also download their own teaching tasks and materials. Some systems also allow tasks to be completed directly on the platform.
The video and audio equipment needed to make quality training videos are becoming cheaper and are readily available. In fact, by properly improving the audio quality, it is possible to reproduce and edit a video on many types of smartphones.
There are many advantages to this training system.
- There is no limit to the number of employees who can take part in video-based training courses. There aren’t any physical limits related to the availability of the programme.
- Video training sessions can be viewed at any time and on a video-enabled system, employees’ participation can be registered and tracked for reporting purposes. You can also be sure that each participant receives exactly the same information.
Another interesting aspect of video-based training is the increase in interactive video-based learning. Interactive videos can include a “live” teacher, who interacts with students online from a different location. Essentially, this is a lesson given by a trainer who can welcome students situated in different locations, without the need for on-site arrangements.
Alternatively, you can create a recorded video that incorporates a branching option, in which a participant can make a choice at a certain point in the presentation.
Videos – including the interactive ones – continue to be the most popular method for content distribution, both for trainers and students. Recorded, live and interactive videos are powerful tools for corporate e-learning.
Turning e-learning efforts into a game for participants is an emerging approach in education which is taking hold throughout the e-learning sphere.
Gamification has the power to engage students and encourage continuous participation using gaming elements (scores, objectives, scoreboards), together with its mechanisms (through levels, scores, avatars) and attractiveness.
In 2016, the corporate e-Learning market was valued at $15.59 billion (with a market share of 41.07%). The company e-Learning sector is set to grow significantly thanks to continuous advances in technological infrastructures and increasing investment by leading e-Learning organisations and providers, who continue to launch innovative solutions and systems for digital learning.
When used correctly, gamification of e-learning applications can increase engagement and illustrate the learner’s progress, by creating challenges and reinforcing a sense of achievement related to their training and development.
Some employees respond better to intrinsic benefits. In gamification, this could be incorporated by unlocking levels or receiving a badge upon the successful completion of a particular level.
Employees who respond best to extrinsic prizes will be more motivated by incorporating friendly competitive dynamics into the training process, for example a public ranking.
We have seen how gamification can bring benefits to a company (involvement, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, measurement of results, etc.) so it is not difficult to imagine an even greater diffusion of these strategies within companies in the future.
Podcasts are interesting because they are cheap to create and distribute and they offer similar benefits to video-based learning, but are even more portable and accessible. Also, because many types of podcasts are becoming more popular, your employees are more likely to become familiar with the basics of the podcast format.
In 2017, 112 milion Americans listened to at least one podcast, 67 million were regular monthly listeners and 42 million were weekly listeners.
These numbers have increased steadily year on year, achieving the biggest results among the population aged 25-54 during the last year. Educational podcasts are the second most popular podcast category – 40% of all podcasts are educational.
Today they are widely used for individual purposes, but in forthcoming years they will become more widespread among companies.
Employees will become familiar with podcasts and feel comfortable as they receive practical and informative content.
Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality
Augmented reality and virtual reality offer exciting new ways to provide e-learners training. Virtual reality, in particular, has been emerging for many years. Recent technological advances are making AR and VR technologies accessible and increasingly affordable.
Augmented reality applications may be cheaper and easier to develop than virtual reality, but both can be adjusted to different situations.
Virtual reality may be the best solution to teach high-risk, complex or dangerous procedures thanks to its immersive experience.
For example, a virtual reality programme can help pilots or surgeons gain experience without risking lives or expensive equipment.
Augmented reality, on the other hand, is suitable for those students who need information in a specific place and at a given time. For example, if an employee is faced with a new instrument or technology, they can use a mobile-enabled app with AR functionality to get immediate information in the real environment.
These are the main innovations in the field of e-learning. We expect them to revolutionise company training and learning methods.
One final consideration
More and more companies recognise that, in a competitive environment, retraining existing employees is a strategic asset for the survival of the organisation itself.
This is why training, with its continuous development, is an increasingly important part of the strategic growth plans of modern companies.
The general trends in training and business development are geared towards technological solutions which can be customised and therefore offer the advantage of making training and learning more accessible.
E-learning is a training approach that revolutionises company training through technology. It is possible to access content in any place and at any time.
Employees will be more motivated to follow training courses, they will be more involved and have the opportunity to learn concepts according to their needs. Finally, it will also improve information storage compared to traditional methods.
Personalised, interactive and stimulating learning will be at the forefront in the future, helping to make course materials even more relevant and developed specifically for the employee.
Do not forget that employees must have specific skills and behaviour in order to make training processes profitable and effective: these must be recognised and strongly encouraged by the management of the company in order to help develop employees’ skills to their full potential.
In this sense, Gamification can be the most effective strategy to identify expected behaviour and results. It turns everything into a game, which is stimulating and engaging for employees. At the same time, it provides top managers with a powerful tool for monitoring the progress of the company’s training programme.
Successful e-learners are self-motivated and organised, they gain increasing communication skills and technical skills over time. They are committed and motivated to participate regularly and have a strong connection to the goals and rewards systems.
Having the right type of employee for e-learning is one of the best ways to ensure the continuous success of these programmes. It is only by having the right mentality and approach towards your workforce that you will succeed in obtaining the expected results.