How Custom E-Learning Courses Improve a Company’s Employee Training Program
:: By Harold Aguirre ::
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” - Benjamin Franklin
The ‘e’ in e-learning means electronic. Simply put, electronic learning refers to the use of electronic technology (in most cases a computer or mobile device) to facilitate learning.
When implemented correctly, custom e-learning courses are the catalyst for delivering an outstanding learning experience for everyone in your organization. The quality of the e-learning produced directly affects whether employees will forget, remember, or actually learn.
Templated vs. Customized Training
Finding the Right Fit
Throughout my career as an e-learning developer, I have had to help clients build courses that took three months to build and others that only took weeks. Some companies opt for using “canned” or “off-the-shelf” e-learning training courses, which are often more convenient and less expensive than customized courses. However, there are significant benefits to be gained from investing in custom e-learning courses.
Although more time, money and resources may be required initially, in the long run, the advantages of custom e-learning translate to substantial savings, higher return on investment, and more motivated and better trained employees.
As implied by the name, custom e-learning courses refer to the training courses developed specifically for your company. The training material is designed around your organization's unique branding, business objectives and its learners’ (the employees) needs.
Think about a shirt that you saw on the sales rack at your favorite clothing store. The one that doesn’t quite fit, but you buy it anyways because it’s ‘such a good deal’. Now think about another shirt, the one that would fit you perfectly but isn’t on sale. Which of the two shirts would you wear more often? Which would make you feel more confident?
I am sure that if you could afford it, you would choose the one with the perfect fit. Similarly, custom e-learning courses are designed to fit your company, its objectives and its employees.
Employee Involvement and Engagement
Engagement through Technology
Franklin’s quote ends with “Involve me and I learn,” so it’s fitting that we start off with one of its most important benefits: custom e-learning drives more employee involvement in their own learning process.
Internet technology has drastically changed how and when employees learn. Whereas a physical classroom setting once forced learners to follow a fixed schedule and curriculum, customized e-learning programs empower employees to decide when, where, and how they learn.
By designing an e-learning course from scratch, you will have more freedom to develop with your employees in mind. No one knows your workforce better than you, so it’s best that you determine the balance between what’s necessary for them to learn and what’s relevant and interesting.
There are many learning tools and technologies at your disposal to help improve the quality of content and level of employee involvement.
Multimedia like graphics, audio, videos and games will do more than just keep learners entertained. The right combination enables you to keep learners actively engaged and enhance their learning experience.
Incorporating communication technologies like email, instant messaging, conferencing tools and forums fosters more interactivity with other employees and the instructor. Consistent feedback and assistance is always just a click away.
Instead of forcing a linear learning pattern, implement an interactive e-learning interface that gives learners more control over their schedule. Use player controls that allow learners to pause, play or skip entire sections of a course if some content is not relevant to their needs.
Engagement through Relevancy
Remember taking a mandatory course back in high school or university that you didn’t want to take? You probably said to yourself, “Do I really need to take this course. I will never use it in real life.”
The problem is that you didn’t have a personal connection with the subject material.
Designing custom e-learning courses allows you to present information that employees will find relevant in their everyday work life. Showing them how the information directly applies to their roles increases their level of engagement in the learning process.
Custom e-learning courses can be developed using realistic, industry specific scenarios that employees have experienced or could potentially experience after they complete the course. A well-designed course will allow for dynamic presentation of information based on variables/inputs like the employee's job title, department and previous answers. In this way, employees only receive information that applies to them.
The Power of Instant Feedback
A great benefit of having your own customized eLearning course is the ability to receive feedback and make changes to the course material in almost real-time.
For example, based on test results you can gauge how well your employees are learning and retaining information.
If test scores are consistently low among all employees, you can determine whether the information needs to be presented in a different way, or whether your test questions were unclear.
You can ask employees directly to rate their learning experience after every section or chapter. For instance you can ask them to rate how easy it was for them to understand the information, how relevant they found the information, and even how engaged they were during the process.
By receiving instant and regular learner feedback, you can continuously change the course information and the way it’s presented, making it a more effective teaching tool over time.
The added benefit is that employees will recognize that the company values their input and opinions. This recognition will give employees more motivation to continue learning.
Eliminate the waste
Because e-learning is done online in a virtual environment, it eliminates the need for printing multiple copies of handouts, course books, agendas and test papers. Instead, the same course material and tests are available digitally to employees on their computers and mobile devices.
To maintain their relevancy, training documents periodically need to be updated. Having these documents in digital format also eliminates the need for re-printing after every iteration and dumping outdated physical documents. The cost of changing or appending lines of text, images or videos is far less than having to constantly reprint multiple copies of a training document.
Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, once feedback is received, course updates can be made quickly and the new version of the course can go back into circulation. There is no time wasted, waiting for updated versions to be printed.
Harold Aguirre: Is a self-acclaimed techie who has been working in the e-learning development industry for more than five years. As a freelance writer, he focuses on how modern education and training are being revolutionized by technology. His aim is to help educators and trainers to create more engaging and enriching learning experiences. More of his work can be seen on this eLearning company blog.