Starting your Digital Learning Journey
By Ryan McInnes - eLearning Director, The Learning Rooms
What is Digital Learning and why does your organisation need it? How can you ensure your digital learning strategy is aligned with your business goals? What does good digital learning look like? How do you know where to begin?
Let’s find out…
What is Digital Learning and why does your organisation need it?
Digital Learning is any training or learning that is supported by or enhanced with the use of technology. It is known by many terms; eLearning, e-learning, online learning, technology enhanced learning, to name a few. Digital learning includes a wide range of delivery methodologies such as, blended learning, augmented and virtual reality learning, mobile learning, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), webinars, video based learning, micro-learning and interactive online content.
If your organisation is considering embracing digital learning, you need to ensure that doing so supports your business strategy. A successful digital learning plan starts by analysing your business requirements, vision and goals. This will help you to plan a learning solution that is integrated with and supports your business from the ground up.
Here are some questions to help you frame your digital learning plan:
1. What do you want to accomplish?
2. How will you define success?
3. Where are you currently in the process?
4. What is needed to help you achieve the project goals?
5. Who are the main stakeholders?
6. How will digital learning fit into your organisation’s culture?
7. How will your employees incorporate digital learning into their day?
8. What tools and technologies will meet your requirements?
Digital learning offers many benefits when it is well-planned, designed and delivered with the required learner supports in place. For a learner, it can help close any skill gaps that are preventing them from performing at their best. It can offer relevant, self-paced, and personalised content that works seamlessly on their device of choice. Learning technologies can be utilised to support and promote collaboration, social and peer learning between geographically dispersed teams. From the organisation’s perspective, digital learning offers a cost effective, measurable and scalable approach to training and developing staff. It provides an opportunity to deliver a consistent message to all employees, promotes organisation wide behavioural changes and, as the organisation grows, can scale to accommodate new staff.
Offering high quality L&D opportunities to support employees on the job establishes loyalty and commitment and helps motivate employees. It can help create a work culture of productivity and in turn have a positive impact on business goals.
How can you ensure your digital learning strategy is aligned with your business goals?
The nature of work is evolving faster than ever. This drives a need for continuous learning. Organisations need to empower their employees to take responsibility for their own learning. Providing relevant learning experiences along with opportunities to practice, as well as offering supports that are aligned to the strategic requirements of the organisation is critical. However, you first have to understand the strategy and goals of the business. Then, consider what your L&D team can do that would support these business goals?
Here are some tips to help create a learning and development department strategy that is well integrated and aligned with the business:
• Involve corporate leaders and management in learning decisions.
• Analyse strategic business goals and identify measurements of success.
• Determine learning activities and performance metrics.
• Focus on the end results.
• Bring staff along on the journey.
By clearly understanding and identifying what is important for your business, you can then implement a successful learning and development strategy. Learning adds value and with a well-defined alignment of business and learning goals, the value of the people within the organisation can be realised.
What does good digital learning look like?
Think about a time when you experienced a great classroom training course. In most cases you will think about the ah-ha moment, when the concept finally clicked, when you realised how you could use your new knowledge to make your life easier back at work. Perhaps it was the engaging facilitator or the discussion between the other learners on the day. Rarely will you think about the classroom furnishings, the lunch or the set-up of the room. Digital learning should be the same. Focus should be on the learning, the experience and engagement first. Technology should enhance the experience when appropriate and required. This ensures that you are designing learning that is learner centred.
When setting out what digital learning might look like, your specification should start with the learning outcomes. Learning outcomes should be aligned with the business goals and they should identify content and assessment that closes the identified skills or knowledge gaps with the specific group of staff. Your specification should read more like a comprehensive list of learning and technology requirements and not just “a 30 minute online course with video and a 10 question assessment.”
Effective digital learning could be defined as any technology assisted training or development intervention that helps your organisation achieve the business goals more efficiently. In the eLearning world there is lots of talk about learning management systems, gamification, AR and VR for learning, storytelling and interactive scenarios. All of these can help deliver effective and impactful learning when they are appropriate for the message you are delivering.
Learning analytics will help you understand your learners’ needs better. Consider the metric of employee engagement. Employee engagement can be measured through the completion of courses, satisfaction surveys, time spent on a course etc.
Other measurable indicators of learning could be linked to your key performance indicators (KPIs), examples might include revenue targets being met, the level of errors reduced, reporting of accidents down, reduced time to carry out processes, etc. These measures will be unique to your business and as with any KPI they should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time based (SMART) and be aligned with the business goals.
1. Adoption - How well did you reach the desired audience?
2. Utility - How useful was it?
3. Efficiency - How cost-effectively did you develop and deliver the training? Consider the cost per learner and industry averages.
4. Alignment - How well were the business goals defined?
5. Attainment (of customer objectives) - How well do you meet the specific course and budgetary objectives of your customer?
6. Satisfaction - How well did the learners like content, delivery, experience, and nature of the training?
7. Learning - Does this learning directly correlate to the root cause of the business problem?
8. Individual Performance - How well are the individual performance objectives defined and met by the training?
9. Organisational Performance - How well are general business or HR measures affected by the training?
The true test of how effective a digital learning intervention should always be measured against the original goals of the project.
How do you know where to begin?
When starting any new venture it is always best to be well informed. Research what is available, talk to some experts and get an idea of the best approach for your organisation.
If you are looking for a digital learning partner compare the services they offer to those you require. Do you need:
• A full digital learning partner
• Content and course design and development partner
• Off-the-shelf course catalogue
• Learning technology
• Upskilled to do it yourself
• Templates and training for your staff
• Ongoing or ad hoc support?
You might also consider:
• How will you obtain full line of sight for your projects?
• What governance do you need of the process?
• Scalability and turnaround times
• Skills and expertise of any external providers
• Where their team are based
• The technologies they use
• Do they fit culturally with your organisation?
• Do they foster a culture of creativity and innovation?
• What do their current clients say about them?
Millennials and Generation Z have grown up with technology, social networks, the internet and video. These technologies have also be embraced across generations and increasingly organisations. People can achieve much through the use of technology. How will your organisation attract and retain the next generation if you don’t offer a technology enabled L&D strategy?
The Learning Rooms provide digital learning services to enable organisations deliver technology-based training and development solutions. We design, build and deliver engaging online learning experiences that develop key skills through active engagement and experiential learning. Through consultancy, training and support we partner with L&D teams to help organisations achieve success.
If you are interested in embarking on an exciting journey into digital learning, get in touch. We would love to see how we could help you achieve your goals.