E-learning has continued to grow in recent years, thanks to enabling technology, faster internet speeds and the cloud. Recent research by Global Industry Analysis Inc. predicts that the global e-learning industry will be worth a huge $168.8bn by 2018, covering all sectors.
The industry is one of the most rapidly growing sectors in the education industry, as more providers and employers turn to using e-learning in favour of conventional learning methods.
This is due to:
- Reduced training costs
- Deployment options available
- Maximum skill development
- Access to learning from anywhere, anytime
- Rise in the use of LMSs
- Increasing interest in fostering knowledge workers
- Flexibility of learning programs
In particular, e-learning is popular amongst younger employees, especially when it’s combined with social elements. There’s little doubt that e-learning, when implemented well, can also be a significant driver to growth due to the time and costs saved.
With this in mind, let’s have a look today at some of the key trends taking place within e-learning at the moment.
Whilst there’s little doubt that e-learning has many benefits that classroom training doesn’t offer, combining the two can be ideal for some organisations. This could take the form of online training using the LMS which prepares students to take a necessary exam, which has to be held in a different location under controlled circumstances.
This allows learners to really take charge of their own learning and encourages them to do better in that their future really is in their own hands. For example, if training is taking place in a classroom environment, then you’re inevitably going to get some students who are quicker than others. By allowing a lot of the training to take place on the LMS, students can all learn at a pace that’s acceptable to them, and supplement training if necessary, so that they are fully prepared for any assessment.
Further to this, training managers can view the progress of each student quickly and easily and identify candidates that show they have a superior grasp of a subject, making promotion selection that little bit easier in the future. This also creates a sense of ownership in an employee, which in turn leads to a happier employee, who feels valued by the company they work for. This then leads to a more productive employee who wants to improve on their knowledge in order to progress further.
Social learning allows employees to collaborate and interact in order to enhance the learning experience further. No longer are students expected to sit in silence and take in presentations or lectures, now they can discuss using a variety of intranet tools to ensure that there’s a buzz and conversation taking place around the training.
Engagement can be one of the most difficult aspects to get right when it comes to the LMS and the intranet in general. By adding social elements, employees are encouraged to engage by building a sense of community amongst the company’s personnel.
It’s also thought that social learning helps to improve learner retention because “the social context of learning is important and […] individuals influence their environment as well as being moulded by it”. This is based in behavioural theory and is associated with prominent theorist Albert Bandura.
Giving learners the tools to influence and learn means that they are likely to learn more and retain the information, and if a workforce is split across offices or departments, then it’s even more valuable. This is due to the opportunity that students have to discuss learning and access supplemental material and can be boosted further by using gamification.
Which brings us to our next trend…
This is the use of elements of games to promote learning and retention and it’s used by military and government organisations already. Gamification doesn’t mean that an organisation has to invest in having a video game produced for the company, it simply means that elements of game play are added to complement the learning.
This could be something as simple as adding a leaderboard, to boost the competitive natures of the employees and give them something to strive for. It’s not really very different to how sales departments have been using targets to galvanise staff for years in this context.
However, there are other aspects of gamification that can be used to increase cognitive skills, improve retention and much more. Basically, it uses technology to help encourage engagement with the learning platform in such a way that it introduces psychological and design elements that do so.
One of the best things about e-learning and using the LMS to train employees is that it never has to end. Offering your staff continuous learning not only gives them a sense that they are valuable to the organisation, it also ensures that the capabilities of the employee are always up to scratch.
This means that it makes it easier to foster knowledge workers, and to promote within the organisation. Training managers can easily keep an eye on the progress of each employee, how engaged they are with learning, how quickly they grasp new concepts and more.
It’s also a great hook for drawing new talent into the company. With the global skills shortage meaning that it’s often difficult for companies to attract the best candidates, those that offer continuous learning are going to have the upper hand. It also means that the workforce can become a very innovative one, with ideas aplenty and it’s a great way of improving on company procedures on a constant basis.
E-learning is something that every company with the resources on the intranet should invest in. These days, it’s not enough to just invest in technology and marketing, a company also has to invest in its employees if it’s going to ensure that staff retention remains high and the staff that is existing, is constantly improving.