The growing popularity and presence of technology-aided learning in corporate life, has made sure that learners have continuous access to learning – whenever and wherever they need, increasing the reach of learning by leaps and bounds. But the issue that often baffles L&D managers is that–How long will the initiative last? In the current economic climate and tight training budgets, it is imperative that training initiatives are sustained long and hard – to make the maximum impact.
Here are a few tips to make e-learning initiatives go an extra mile and achieve sustainability –
The Right Learning Management System: Choosing the right LMS can bring about sustainability of your e-learning initiative. It’s a myth that only large organizations can truly utilize and get a positive ROI by implementing an enterprise LMS. With onset of new-age systems, LMS implementation does not incur huge hardware costs and most LMS providers have SAAS models to suit the needs of small & medium organizations as well.
You may begin small, with a limited number of learners. But as your organization grows, your learning needs will increase as well. Make sure that the LMS structure is strong and flexible to support increase in the number of learners as well as available courseware in the system.
A modern LMS can do much more than just deliver learning courses and most of them have in-built capabilities like ILT management systems, skill-gap analysis, question-banks and so on. Choosing one that offers the flexibility to pick and choose the features that you would best utilize will increase the sustainability of your e-learning initiative. You can choose to utilize some functions for a while and then as your need increases, include other functions to cater to newer requirements and better impact of learning.
Continuous content creation: The content that resides in a LMS needs to be constantly updated and newer content added in order to make sure that the learning is relevant for the learners.
Creating content using rapid authoring tools can ensure that e-course can be edited and updated on a constant basis. The core teams involved in developing the course content need not get involved at all – the changes can be done by SMEs or managers themselves.
Rapid authoring tools are easy to master and managers/SMEs can be encouraged to convert suitable learning material into e-format on a constant basis. For informative courses, this can be sustainable model for constant content creation.
Social platforms can also be cultivated to encourage the creation of usable content on a continuous basis. Experts, learners, instructors and SME can all converge on social platforms to share queries or experiences. A series of questions and answers within a group can be a rich source of information which can be given a suitable stricture and included in the content library.
Making one-off or stand-alone courses go a long way: Sometimes to address individual needs of a group of learners within an organization, stand-alone trainings are developed. These trainings are custom-made for the consumption of a set of pertinent needs. Though this type of a learning initiative is not on a large scale, it can also be made sustainable
By understanding different needs within a learner group, content can be tweaked to suit individual needs and further utilized for multiple purposes.
For instance, we created an e-course for a leading insurance company to train their sales executives on the product range. This course was created for individual learning but to increase its utilization, we made certain additions to the content to cater to a larger range of learning needs.
In addition to text and graphical content, we also created a separate version of the course to cater to the marketing needs of the team. The 30 minute course was reduced to a 5 minute audio-visual that could be run to provide the array of product benefits to the end-customers.
The audio-visual version of the course was delivered in CD format, equipped with autorun.exe to ensure that all that the trainee needed to do was insert the CD into a CD ROM and it would play automatically.
The dual version of the course did not take up a huge amount of development time or moneys but the utilization of the course was increased manifold.
The entire course was built with XML codes, to make room for content-updates and changes from time to time. This made sure that as and when w products were added to the product range, necessary changes could be done easily to update the course.
Reusability of content: Re-usability is at the core of sustainability – and it is true for sustainability of e-learning as well.
A lot of existing content within the organization can be converted into e-learning using rapid authoring tools.
The theme, color-schemes, figures and mascots of e-courses can be re-used for similar courses over time. The continuity would add to the learning impact as well, for learners would associate well with familiar figures.
Resources from e-courses like images, audio and video can be re-used when developing mobile content. So when you ponder over the costs of extending the reach of your e-learning initiative, you can reduce the cost of development by a considerable margin by using existing material from e-courses.
A learning initiative which successfully sustains itself over time is bound to be impactful. Adopting the above strategies, you can make your e-learning initiative go an extra mile and attain sustainability.
About Author: Arunima is an e-learning enthusiast. She loves exploring and blogging about innovations in training & learning for the new-age corporate sector. She is Marketing Consultant at G-Cube.