The Perfect Tool For Imperfect Times – How the COVID-19 Pandemic has shed light on why eLearning is such an important asset
November 26, 2020
What is eLearning?
If you’re reading this article, you may already be familiar with the concept of eLearning, but for those who are unfamiliar, here is a brief overview.
eLearning (short for Electronic Learning) refers to training that can be delivered in an electronic format, and often contains material such as video, audio, text, pictures and interactive elements presented in containers called modules. eLearning has grown greatly in popularity and usage over the past decade, with 77% of companies in the United States reporting they used eLearning in some form in 2017.
One of the greatest benefits of eLearning is that it can be accessed online via the internet and does not rely on the same limitations that in-person training mandates such as scheduled class times and sizes.
How has Covid-19 exposed companies’ need for eLearning?
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many flaws and issues within a myriad of operational systems, in particular large swathes of companies and businesses, as well as the economy as a whole.
As most of the world has been dealing with “the new normal” presented by the pandemic, which includes social distancing and very few, if any, members of the workforce allowed to work from traditional brick and mortar locations, businesses everywhere are trying to handle drastically different situations such as how to efficiently manage largely remote workforces and the inability to meet or work in-person.
Some businesses were not prepared to handle such a drastic shift and have struggled as some areas of the world begin to re-open. Lack of cohesive remote working options and training for those positions under very different circumstances was just not something that most companies had a contingency plan in place for.
This is an area where eLearning is strongly positioned to help. Through the deployment of training courses, created with the learner’s unique situations in mind, that can be taken remotely and fit into their schedule, eLearning fits the exact use case so many companies have found themselves in.
Why is eLearning the perfect tool for companies at this time?
eLearning is a very valuable asset for companies to be able to utilize to help train in many different use cases, including the one that is unfolding in today’s society. Below are some key points that illustrate the benefits eLearning can provide to companies both now and for the future.
- Fills a Need
- Provides a Back-up Plan
- Future Proofing
- Lowers Dependency
Fills a need
The need for well-designed and structured learning that can be accomplished in a virtual environment is more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learners are no longer able to attend in-person training and in many cases aren’t even able to access their place of work. Their line of work may not even provide an ability for them to do their work remotely at all and they may need to learn new skills on the fly to be able to continue working.
eLearning helps fill the need for specialized training that can be taken from a fully remote environment and be customized to meet the needs of your learners. Whether your workforce need to learn new skills to help them do their current job in a changed environment or need to learn an entirely different skillset to perform new functions, eLearning can meet those needs while allowing learners to take the training when it’s convenient for them.
Provides a Back-up Plan
So many training structures had no backup plan beyond their traditional method of in-person learning, which was completely upended by the pandemic. Even for companies that already provided some level of eLearning or remote learning, the scale of that learning has had to increase due to the amount of skills and functions that may need to change due to the current measures in place throughout most of the world.
Virtual learning in general and eLearning specifically can provide a solid backup plan that allows each learner to be able to remotely access training content regardless of where they are and learn what they need, when they need it.
Being able to plan for future scenarios where virtual learning or other types of learning that aren't entirely dependent on one method of training is important so people can continue to learn. As the pandemic has shown, when there is a dependence on one way of doing things and that way is disrupted, a lot of other links in the chain start to fail as well.
Utilizing eLearning allows training and content delivery to be spread out across more platforms, which greatly reduces the dependence on one method of delivery. Designing eLearning with the future in mind can also help deal with other scenarios that may occur so that your company can quickly pivot if necessary.
Allowing people to learn virtually also lessens the dependency on brick and mortar facilities as the only hub for learning. Nothing is going to replace the unique experience of meeting and connecting in-person, but eLearning can help fill in the gaps so when one is unable to attend in-person events, they can still engage in an experience that provides many of the same benefits, albeit in different ways.
An Open University study even found that utilizing eLearning cut energy consumption by 90% and CO2 emissions by more than 85%, which is another unintended but welcome side effect.
What can your company do to deploy effective eLearning?
Each company’s use case is likely to be a little different, depending on some factors such as line of business, number of employees and state of existing training, but below are some general questions to consider when exploring the best way to create and deploy effective eLearning to your workforce during this time.
- What is the training supposed to accomplish? What is the end result you are looking to reach?
- Who is your target audience? What do they need in order for the training to be effective?
- Does the workforce have the proper technology in order to be able to utilize the eLearning to its fullest?
- What type of training do you want to develop?
What is the training supposed to accomplish? What is the end result you are looking to reach?
eLearning, just like in-person training, works most effectively when steered towards a specifically designed end result. During the current times especially, it’s very important to be able to clearly define what you want your training to teach and what you want your learners to be able to do once they have completed the training.
As with most training, eLearning is only as good as its learning objectives and core content. Because eLearning is currently being consumed mostly from remote locations at this time, designers must be cognizant of the goals and objectives of the training being clear and easy to understand due to the inability to cover for gaps through in-person training or assistance.
Who is your target audience? What do they need in order for the training to be effective?
It’s important to distinguish between what the end result of the training is compared to what the learners need to get from the training. The former is what the overall impact on the company will be on a strategic level while the latter is about what benefits the learners and their team will be able to provide on a tactical level. When factoring in this difference, it’s critical to know what the target audience of the training will be and what they will need to know for the training to be considered a success.
Perhaps your company needs to redesign existing training to fit the new normal of the COVID-19 world, or maybe some completely new job positions have been created that need training designed for them from the ground up. In either case, it’s recommended to analyze the new or changed needs of learners, who may be following very different schedules and have different responsibilities than before the pandemic.
Does the workforce have the proper technology in order to be able to utilize the eLearning to its fullest?
Technology is a crucial part of eLearning, because without items such as computers/phones, the internet and training applications it would not be possible to train people remotely at this time. If your company is new to eLearning, we recommend taking the time to research what items are must haves vs nice to haves from a technology standpoint.
Does everyone need the latest computer and mobile phone, or can they make do with what they have? Do learners know how to use the technology you’re providing to them, or do they need additional training created for that?
Due to the nature of technology, it can sometimes run into issues such as outages, errors and incompatibilities. Do you have a support team that can help solve those issues for you so your learners can get what they need?
What type of training do you want to develop?
More and more we’re seeing training created for two major use cases: i) robust, in-depth courses with large amounts of feedback and interactivity to support detailed understanding of complex ideas, and ii) bite-size micro-learning courses that provide only what’s absolutely necessary to support simpler, learn as you go topics.
As one might imagine, the more robust courses take much longer to design and implement, but can provide a great deal of depth about the subject-matter while shorter micro-learnings have a comparatively quick turnaround time while providing enough knowledge from the learner to do what they need to do.
Depending on the size of your team, and especially during this challenging time, it may be better to focus on smaller, micro-learning type training in order to help your team get the learning they need sooner and focus on creating more in-depth training at a later time.
COVID-19 has created a perfect storm for the eLearning and virtual training environment, which fits the exact need so many companies face today in being able to continue delivering training and support to their workforce. eLearning fill that need and also provides a back-up plan in case something similar happens in the future by lowering dependency on only one form of training.
By understanding the unique needs of your workforce and designing a training plan based on those needs, you can still accomplish those goals quickly and efficiently due to the existence of eLearning and virtual training. At Positive Results™ we design training and implement cloud solutions for situations just like this.
If you have any questions about virtual training implementation or need support, contact us at:
Positive Results™ Custom Business Solutions