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Mike Bailey

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From F2F to Faster Pace: Moving Into Elearning

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This article aims to combine the ideas and trends of adding eLearning as a strategic new business revenue stream. It discusses the advantages of transitioning from traditional face-to-face-delivered training to a truly eLearning-based, eCommerce-delivered online learning experience.  

Setting

Some types of training are suited to face-to-face delivery only: Health & Safety, Industrial Driver training, Forklift Truck training, Medical, First Aid and many other subject areas. However, materials that update the theory, practice techniques and legislation-affected parts of that training can be augmented and delivered completely online. The ability to build, manage and monetise this new training delivery channel introduces new demands and new flexibility both for the company and the trainee.

Traditionally, if internal company training is required, this has needed to be scheduled with the workforce, with the additional considerations of travel, time out of service and costs. For legislative training update demands, the costs are a given, but how you deliver this mandatory training will impact the bottom line.

Commercial advantages

Using eLearning and delivering online information packs, pre-training checklists and pre-assessments can greatly improve the effectiveness of planned, on-premises onboarding familiarisation training. In some scenarios, social interaction using online training will establish trainee and cohort cohesion, building rapport and increasing the effectiveness of the face-to-face training and allowing a faster pace from the start and more efficient delivery overall.

Accuracy of progress monitoring (paperless progress)

Traditional face-to-face training relies on the trainer to assess and adapt the delivery of content dependent on the progress of the trainees. Of course, where legislative training is concerned, e.g. Learner Driver Highway Code testing, online delivery has been the preferred route for some time, with learning and test centres allowing mock tests to be taken online prior to attending the actual theory test.

For online delivery, outcome-dependent release (Adaptive Release or Conditional Activities) can manage automatically the release of further content to the trainee against their own progress and critical pass level. The progress and outcomes are easily controlled and require no manual intervention or paper-based process as they do in face-to-face delivery.

Improved outcomes

With online delivery, outcomes are easily recorded and digital certification is widely accepted today within many organisations. Using an Learning Management System where the trainee purchases content at their own pace and matching their budget allows their training and certification portfolio to be built up over time. The flexibility that online with eCommerce training provides is the accepted modus operandi of a large population of trainees, including millennial learners who comprise an ever-growing segment of the working population.

Engagement

Ease of engagement and time constraints affect signup and outcomes. Where the trainee is able to optionally choose their own path from a library of training options and content, there is greater take up and more effective engagement. Scientific evidence for this is substantial. For example, an article published in Perspectives on Psychological Science by cognitive scientists Gueckis and Markant offers several explanations to account for the advantages of self-directed learning.

Self-directed learning, their study finds, helps us to optimise our own personal educational experience, enabling us to focus effort on useful information we need, and the active nature of self-directed learning helps us in assimilating information in a way that is memorable to us personally, and retaining it over time.

Competing for Trainee time

Where the trainee is required to complete specific training, for example as part of company policy, often the training team are competing with other internal functions and with the trainee for the individual’s time. Take, for example, a sales manager targeted and remunerated quarterly with a busy schedule of travel, meetings and administrative tasks. Adding a formal requirement to attend face-to-face training introduces a conflict in her working life that she may well prefer not to have.

To this can be added the cost implications of choosing a suitable venue, travel costs for all involved and disruption to the business, all of which can impact the quality of the outcomes and benefits of the training. With online training, once established, the cost-to-benefit ratio is greatly reduced and time taken away from traditional training can be allocated to research, assessment and analytics of the online programmes to better provide cutting-edge content and deliver it in a timely and relevant way.

Old concepts with an e Edge

A concept used by the military in recent years, almost certainly borrowed from the automotive industry, is that of 'just-in-time delivery'. We are all familiar with how Toyota revolutionised car manufacture by having engines, panels and other parts delivered within a 5 or 10-minute time optimal time window for assembly.

Defence organisations deliver just-in-time training online for personnel who will be deployed into new and unfamiliar zones. This information, given at the optimal time for it to be fresh in their minds when most needed, includes cultural etiquette, new information on armaments, geographical assessments, language skills and so on.

Having the infrastructure and delivery platform to provide online training just-in-time allows efficient, fast and secure outcomes. The same principle is applicable to any situation where mission-critical and context-sensitive information needs to be delivered at the optimal time.

Analytics

Online training can be linked to other internal functions for data analytics that allow its effectiveness to be assessed against on-the-job performance. A simple example could be the number of deals closed by salespeople who have taken a particular sales training module versus those who have not. Modern learning analytics tools allow learning and performance data to be mined for trends and correlations, represented graphically for at-a-glance assessment by management, and used to streamline learning for greater efficiency.

Modern Learning Management Systems produce a much greater range of data than traditional face-to-face paperwork can. Going far beyond grades and comments, an LMS can reveal the amount of time a trainee spends on a module, the number of times he has accessed the training, the times of day he studies, demographic information if applicable, certificate tracking, and can serve as a repository for correspondence with trainers and other learners.

Author Profile Picture
Mike Bailey

Manager

Read more from Mike Bailey
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