Dealing with Learning and Development managers from large corporates has shown us that a lot of big organisations and their leadership still don’t see the potential (or the value) in elearning, despite almost every other facet of business being increasingly digital-driven.
We often hear people say “I’m trying to show our people what can be done in elearning.”
So why does elearning still require a sales pitch in 2015 and how can you generate buy-in with your key stakeholders and leadership group?
1. Understand that elearning has been around for a while
People generally know what it is (or at least what it has been in the past) and in a lot of cases the sheer mention of elearning is accompanied by some eye-rolling or similarly-flavoured gesture of disdain. In a recent conversation, an acquaintance recounted her experience thus: “Oh yeah, we do elearning at work.. it drives me insane.”
Tip: Learn the pain points of the past. Why hasn’t elearning worked? Have there been any successes? Knowing the history will provide an insight into why there is valid resistance and give you a clearer view of how to (or how not to) proceed.
2. Do something different
Stop trying to wow your leadership team with a brand new text-heavy compliance suite; you’re more likely to be met with more eye-rolling. The people we see generating interest in elearning are doing something different and interesting, from simple shifts like breaking the linear mould and creating more explorative experiences, to adopting personalised learning strategies based on content management systems housing smaller bites of discrete content/training and micro-learning modules.
Tip: Start with a module that is light on content, like an induction or awareness program. These types of courses can give you more freedom to experiment with new ideas and techniques. Once you have established your flagship module you can treat it as your ‘elearning trojan horse’.
3. Leverage the ubiquity of mobile devices
The notion of “bring your own device” is now almost a null point with almost everyone at work having access to a smart phone, tablet or laptop computer. By creating an online environment that allows easy yet secure access from personal devices you can place the learner in a position where they feel comfortable and in control of their learning experience. And you can also reduce your reliance on your IT department’s equipment and support (see number 7, below).
Tip: Talk to your LMS people about the options available in managing users and content on your current platform.
4. Focus on elearning’s strengths
Elearning was initially sold as an incredible opportunity to allow learners to engage with content at their own pace and with a degree of flexibility, yet so many courses we see are designed (at a high level) in the mould of text books and quizzes that give the user the impression that everything needs to be completed now and in this order… and it must all be read… Word. For. Word. What have we gained by doing this?
Tip: Discuss elearning in the context of how it adds value to and augments other forms of training, and how it can improve performance through on-the-job, just-in-time training. Elearning can be seen as an opportunity to engage learners through non-text-based content like interactive practice/activities and media-rich instruction using video, audio and animation.
5. Look at the broader digital landscape
Don’t just look at elearning when researching ways to engage learners online. Take your cues from the broader digital word: websites you like, apps you find useful and gamified elements in digital marketing. Then ask: “How can the techniques and technologies used there be applied to learning content?”
Tip: Marketing and learning share a lot of common ground. Both use digital technology and media to influence the behaviour of their respective audiences. Try approaching a subject in the way an advertising executive might.
6. Know your internal limitations
We see it all the time: L&D practitioners (and even entire departments) biting off more than they can chew trying to implement a grand plan then realising too late in the process that they cannot get the support they need internally. For example, they may not have a suitable environment for testing a new elearning package to ensure it will work for the entire target audience.
Tip: Have that conversation with the people running your LMS and others in your L&D team, work out where the shortfalls are and ensure you engage an elearning provider that can fill those gaps for you.
7. Keep your process and project timeframes tight
Another common issue we see is elearning project schedules blowing out for various reasons. While this doesn’t impede the end product it does create a drag on the perception of the process at our clients’ end.
You might have had your line manager and SMEs raring to go at the outset, but by the time various delays and changes have their impact, the third review of the storyboards is hitting stakeholders’ inboxes 4 months after kick-off and everyone is thinking “when-oh-when will this thing be finished?” and/or “I can’t bare the thought of going through this process again”.
Tip: Communicate with key stakeholders on the importance of working together to hit a timely deadline. This demonstrates intent and also reinforces what can and should be achieved. Also, ensure your vendor can provide project plans that make sense and lock the review/sign-off dates in everyone’s diaries.
8. Talk ROI
More so than in recent times organisations are looking to cut costs and elearning is not exempt from falling within the bounds of the broader business strategy. If the honeymoon is almost certainly over and you’re reading this, then it’s entirely possible a divorce is on the cards. Time to get practical. The fact is that elearning, when planned and implemented correctly, has the potential to:
- Save organisations big time on their training budgets
- Increase revenue through better performance
- Drive a better return on face-to-face and other types of learning campaigns
- Provide a cost-effective method of monitoring and measuring performance in achieving compliance outcomes
Tip: By talking ROI you’ll keep the elearning conversation focussed on what matters most to those making the decision on where the money gets spent.
Now it’s over to you. Tell us about the ways in which you’ve championed and driven elearning to the forefront of your organisation’s training strategy…
Or, want to discuss what can be done in your next elearning project? Give us a call, we love bouncing ideas around. +61 (0) 3 9028 2440 email@example.com
Justin Cruickshank is a media production specialist with 11+ years industry experience across film and video production, journalism, music and audio production, digital production and elearning production. He’s now enjoying life with The Learning Hook as our Lead Learning Designer/Project Manager.
For more eLearning, visit www.learninghook.com.au