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Matthew Kay

Vario at Pinsent Masons

Partner and Managing Director

Read more from Matthew Kay

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A beginner’s guide to delivering practical and effective online learning

Explore these practical steps to creating a digital learning offering that packs a punch for employees.
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It is widely said that the world is becoming more and more digital, but this can only really be quantified by looking at some concrete statistics.

The Oxford Learning College conducted a 2022 survey, and also compiled some key statistics on digital learning, and found that:

  • 42% of organisations have experienced an increase in income since introducing digital learning as part of their training
  • Online learning is the fastest-growing market in the education industry with a 900% growth rate globally since the year 2000
  • E-learning increases information retention rates by up to 60%, compared to 8-10% for traditional learning

So often, digital training merely resembles a collection of PowerPoints on the Cloud or the company’s intranet

Statistics like this bring into focus just how important it is for companies to give their training a digital element. In a post-pandemic world where hybrid working is the norm, and also in a challenging global economy in which many businesses are experiencing headwinds and cost pressures, skilling up staff in a high-impact, cost-effective way is more important than ever.

But there are still questions about how. In any new and burgeoning area, it can be tricky to know exactly what steps to take to implement a solution that really works and not just a solution that is implemented because ‘everybody else is doing it.’  With this in mind, how can companies create digital training that really, genuinely works for them and their staff?

Investing sufficiently in digital learning

Businesses may not want to hear it, but they must be willing to properly invest in digital training. So often, digital training merely resembles a collection of PowerPoints on the Cloud or the company’s intranet, with little employed to captivate staff.

Companies should strive to avoid staff feeling like the training is just a checkbox exercise. People are sensitive to that, and if a company is not willing to put the time, effort and, in some cases, money, behind the training it is delivering, it cannot expect staff to engage to the fullest.

It can be tough for a company to deliver on exactly what it wants whilst keeping things in the realm of the affordable, but even where a company cannot max on the budget, it should be willing to max out the time invested in making the training the best it can be. Training is often seen as a ‘nice-to-have’ and secondary to the core business. This in turn means it is often not as high up on the agenda as it should be, and so not enough hours are dedicated to refining it.

However, if digital training tools look and feel half-baked, staff will not want to use them. Companies need to be willing to put the man-hours behind their training programmes rather than throwing it together in a week and saying ‘that will do’. It pays for a training programme to be polished, engaging and satisfying to use.

Before the digital training programme has even been created, businesses should speak directly to staff about what sort of content they like to consume

Talk to staff about what training they want

A company may wonder, ‘Where do we start? How can we deliver a programme that we know will work for our staff?’ The answer lies in the last word – ‘staff’. Companies need to remember that, first and foremost, training is being delivered to individuals. There is a clear benefit to the business, but if it takes a top-down approach and creates training tools without consulting with the very people who will be using them, the programme is doomed to fail.

Part of investing sufficiently in a training programme is spending the time to constantly check in with staff. Before the digital training programme has even been created, businesses should speak directly to staff about what sort of content they like to consume, what kind of learners they are (auditory, visual or kinaesthetic), and whether they have taken part in training before (what worked and did not work for them, how they feel it could have been improved).

If a company is very large and the prospect of speaking to hundreds of staff simply is not workable, it can consider designing a series of email surveys to collect this feedback.

The company must then keep talking to staff once the training programme has been implemented, and be willing to make changes. Do staff feel that it is working? Do they have any suggestions or recommendations for improving it? The only way to answer these questions is for a company to speak regularly to the people actually engaging with its digital training.

By speaking to staff companies can not only collect valuable data that can allow them to develop and refine their training programmes but they can also hear anecdotes of training that staff have been through in the past that fell short or simply did not work.  Why should a company reinvent the wheel when it may be able to learn from the mistakes of its competitors?

The power of digital learning platforms and portals

Companies should also consider centralising their digital training. As mentioned previously, training often ends up sitting in a faceless shared drive or intranet, and for staff, this can make accessing the tools and staying engaged a chore.

Businesses that deliver good digital training are increasingly recognising the benefit that centralised platforms and portals can bring to their programmes. These often take the form of a ‘hub’, bringing together all the training materials in one place.

These hubs often provide metrics on how staff members are progressing through the training, as well as a range of media such as games, quizzes, blogs and instructional videos, and other somewhat more ‘fun’ pieces of content for staff to digest.

The desire for digital training is a rapidly expanding phenomenon

Some of the more sophisticated hubs even replicate some of the world’s leading social media platforms. Staff can message and interact with one another, share content and post updates for others to see. Again, the message is simple – invest properly in digital training programmes, and staff are much more likely to enjoy using them.

As we saw from the statistics earlier on, the desire for digital training is a rapidly expanding phenomenon, and one that businesses ought to pay serious attention to – the world is moving quickly onwards and a failure to do this is a death knell for any business. But digital training must be done the right way. Start with staff – the actual people who have to go through the training – and the rest will follow.

Interested in this topic? Read Creating a learning culture for the digital age.

Author Profile Picture
Matthew Kay

Partner and Managing Director

Read more from Matthew Kay

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