According to the latest Fossway report titled ‘How is Covid19 changing the learning?’, almost all learning and development professionals are currently having to change their strategy in response to the pandemic.
In this new world, where the majority of office workers now work from home, shifting learning online is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’. Senior executives understand that - 50% of the respondents of the same survey said that their budgets were being shifted to digital content.
However, increased budgets for this type of learning do not guarantee success in terms of business outcomes.
Traditional asynchronous eLearning, driven by badly designed, promoted and measured courses has a poor reputation both amongst learners and stakeholders.
For eLearning to work, that is to drive business performance through effective knowledge transfer, a different approach for the way it is designed, rolled out, promoted and measured is needed.
Having gone through this process over the past 4 years ourselves, we have learned some important lessons. In this article, I will share them with you.
Tribal Impact’s eLearning 1.0
Back in 2016, we launched a series of eLearning courses with an objective of sharing our social media knowledge on a mass scale with our clients.
Sarah, our Founder, understood well the challenge our customers were facing. At her previous employer SAP, she found herself delivering the same webinar training over and over.
She realised that a more structured and scalable approach to employee social media activation was required and offered that to her clients after establishing Tribal Impact.
"We co-innovated on our first round of eLearning products, working with the client to build a set of modules to help employees learn social media at scale. However, we quickly realised that the courses became a barrier for employee advocacy success. We were asking employees to jump through hours of eLearning before they joined the employee advocacy tool and they didn’t have time for that”.
In fact, what was launched is so different from the original version that it would be hard to still call them eLearning courses! The following lessons explains why.
Lesson No: 1 Micromodules Are More Effective Than Long eLearning Courses
What happens with the knowledge gained in any format if it’s not applied/tested in practice?
It usually vanishes from our brains very quickly.
After launching the first version of our eLearning offering, we realised that the completion rates of our courses were very low. We learnt from feedback that users didn’t want to sit through 3+ hours of content.
Also, many rejected to even start – eLearning format reminded them of dull, mandatory compliance training which many don’t enjoy.
After a thorough research we realised that we needed to covert our courses to short, max five-minutes-long, easily accessible format that would focus on answering specific questions and/or teaching specific task.
Bite-size learning instead of asking the learner to go through 10 hours of videos in order to gain a certificate that did not prove anything was learned.
Lesson No.2 Users Want To Learn Anytime, Anywhere, From Any Device
Some of the users of our old eLearning reported issues with visibility and accessibility when trying to complete the courses via e.g. mobile.
We needed to make our content more responsive - that is adjustable to any device, screen size and format.
We worked with our eLearning partners, who lead in this field, to totally break up and rebuild our products. It meant using the latest eLearning technology and design formats.
Implementing this change not only helped the learners access the content from any device but also enabled them to decide when they want to learn (e.g. at home or whilst commuting home instead of from the office) and contributed to higher completion rates.
Lesson No.3 eLearning Content Needs To Be Easy To Update
The format of our previous eLearning was primarily based on videos. If you teach a subject that keeps on changing (and social media certainly does!), you are facing a big challenge.
Imagine the following scenario - LinkedIn has just increased the number of characters available in the field where users can type in their profile’s headline - what do we do now? Organise the recording team, rewrite the script, drive back to studio, rerecord one line, redo the graphics, travel back, prepare the final cut, upload, test and several days later - we are on! Whilst the client is gone…
On top of this, we gained a more engaging way of learning - watching a video is passive. Interactive format requires engagement and hence, focus.
Lesson No.4 ‘Do You Have This In German?’
“Ehm..no. But we could translate it and add subtitles? Oh wait, there are also images, buttons and course menu to translate. Right, this will take some time.. Give us a couple of weeks.”
Most of our clients are global companies therefore this question kept on popping in, especially that given eLearning . “What about if we used a translation-ready format for elearning?” - was the idea and the best answer to this, once again turned out to be interactive text.
Oh, and yes, if you’re curious we do now have our Social Practitioner eLearning in German, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish :-)
Lesson 5: Practice Is Key To Success
Let’s say someone has just learned how to update their LinkedIn headline. What would you like them to do now? Immediately implement this knowledge into practice! How? By giving them task or a challenge to complete.
A task, that later on you could be tracked to see if it was completed by either following with a coaching session or, (depending on the task) analysing the behaviour using a tracking tool.
In order for our eLearning to drive the behaviour-change, we have added to the latest version a set of exercises that help learners to apply the newly-gained knowledge before the next module is completed.
Lesson 6: Mapping Social Media Learning To Employee Readiness Stages
OK, so you completed one micro module. What’s next?
Going back to the LinkedIn headline example.. The next logical step for the learners to take would be to learn how else they could enhance their LinkedIn profile by e.g. writing their About section.
Would your learners know that this is the next step? Perhaps they would, perhaps not. They certainly would if you showed them the way.
After dividing and redesigning our eLearning material into easy to digest micro modules we categorised them. Based on our knowledge of 9 different social maturity stages as well as tons of hours spent on further analysis of user behaviours recorded by various employee advocacy tools, we were able to create typical learning paths.
What are learning paths? They are groups of recommended micro modules that specific learners would complete based on where they were at the moment in terms of their social maturity stage.
The beauty of this approach is that each client could create their own learning paths based on their own data sets used for learners’ categorisation. And the learners? They get to learn what is relevant to them making their learning journey much more personalised!
The dynamics of the current circumstances make us increasingly aware of the fact that in order to stay relevant and delight our customers we need to continue innovating our eLearning products based on the requirements, knowledge, and the learning behaviours observed.
This could be through the quantitative analysis of interactions of the learners with our content and the results they achieved afterwards plus qualitative methods such as feedback recorded on e.g. the functionality/relevancy of our offering.
Does that mean there will be further changes/adjustments coming? Surely. The question is what type rather than if.