In a world where change is happening at an accelerated pace, there is the tension between the greater need for learning and ever-increasing work demands. How can we ensure that employee mindspace is optimized for both learning and productivity and that the time spent on learning actually contributes to productivity?
The quick answer to that is that learning has to be focused, relevant, immediately applied, interactive, and multi-modal to cater to different learning styles. Focused means that a learner concentrates his or her resources on a few critical areas at a time. Relevant and immediately applied are closely linked because learning has to be purposive and linked to an employee’s role thereby increasing the chances that the learning will be used and applied on-the-job. Without practice, perfection is not possible. The last two items refer to the way in which learning is delivered. Interactive learning means that learners are not merely passive recipients but are actually active participants, receiving immediate feedback for learning goals that are met. Lastly, multi-modal learning provides different perspectives and methods to deliver the same learning content, thereby enhancing both retention and utility.
One key and perhaps underutilized modes of learning is e-Learning. The advent of the internet and overall growth in technological proficiency of the workforce has led to the rise of e-learning platforms such as Udemy, Coursera, Skillshare and LinkedIn Learning. Companies have also invested in their own Learning Management Systems with internally developed content distributed over corporate intranets.
"learning has to be purposive and linked to an employee’s role thereby increasing the chances that the learning will be used and applied on-the-job"
When used together with approaches and principles such as micro-learning, artificial intelligence, automated assessment, mastery transcripts, and thematic learning journeys, e-Learning provides a viable, efficient, effective and scaleable way to deliver training to a large number of the employee base. E-learning does not entirely replace instructor-led learning as there are situations where interaction with a live instructor trumps interfacing with a computer screen.
Used selectively and strategically though, e-learning can lead to huge gains for employees of enterprises and organizations:
1) Learning on-demand and available in perpetuity
2) Self-driven and self-paced learning
3) If designed with multiple modalities, e-learning
can address different styles of learning
4) Provides immediate assessment, measurable
results and feedback
5) Interactive with the potential for gamification
6) Standardization of content
7) Allows for repetition and mastery
8) Allows for levelling of learning from introductory up till mastery
9) If online learning platforms such as LI Learning or Udemy are used, it provides access to best practices
On the Human Resources side, there are also natural advantages to e-learning:
1) Digital record keeping
2) Ease of content update
3) Standardization of learning journeys and paths
5) Delivers learning to large numbers of employees
6) Reduces logistical and administrative costs
Moreover, when used in tandem with a Learning Management System and an integrated learning framework, e-learning can easily be supplemented by 70-20-10 methodologies such as learning focus groups, networks of experts and mentors, and on-job application projects.
As earlier mentioned, instructor-led learning has a significant place in the overall learning framework and, in many cases, e-learning can actually be used to supplement courses which were initially delivered by live instructors. For example, the introduction of new concepts and processes may first be delivered by instructors, leaving the reinforcement and repetition of these to e-learning content which could be as simple as uploading the presentation materials to the Learning Management System to creating gamified content, online self-assessments, enrichment material, or step-laddered e-learning content. The key to effective learning is repetition and utilization of new skills and e-learning can go a long way towards helping learners attain that.