E-learning Portals: A Starting Point to Foray into Online Training
The focus of eLearning and training is more on providing continuous learning and development rather than a one off training session or rapid knowledge transfer through an orientation program. Such an outlook is more long term and ensures steady growth of knowledge and skills in tune with the existing requirements.
Employees benefit from this learning and development program, since they can excel at their role and responsibilities through constant availability of learning resources. These knowledge resources have the potential to channelize their knowledge into workable ideas that can translate into business solutions.
How can organizations ensure up to date knowledge is available to their employees at all times?
Since organizations have the unique responsibility of consolidating knowledge and information into training modules for employees quickly and more effectively than before, they need to look for technologies that will cohere knowledge into a centralized access point and present it seamlessly.
This is where eLearning steps in. It is critical to the success of organizations, communities, economies and individuals. If you are a small to mid-size organization, who never ventured into online training before, you could start with eLearning portals.
Through eLearning portals, effective educational and training courses can be brought to the desktops and mobile devices of employees. Employees can benefit from them, by receiving up to date information. These portals can be customized, made accessible 24/7, are flexible, convenient and user-centric as a centralized knowledge management entity.
What is an e-learning portal?
An organization sets up a virtual environment for disseminating access to knowledge to its staff. This is how an eLearning portal is born. Such portals are known differently by different people.
- eLearning centers
- internal portals
- online education centers
- virtual universities
- corporate universities
These provide the framework for eLearning or online training to take place in an organization. They also provide specific tools to learners to access, navigate and aggregate "learning chunks" (whether complete or bite-sized) or "learning objects" from courses, web sites, internal databases or repositories.
A central repository of knowledge
Thus, the eLearning portal becomes an access point from where courses, training, applications and services are sent out to customers, employees, partners or suppliers. At the same time, it is also the meeting place for the organization's web channels such as the Internet, intranet, extranet, etc. to combine information that will benefit the larger community.
Benefits of eLearning portals
You get the benefits of real time training, replete with integrated multimedia and instructor-led training in an environment of pooled resources. Organizations can be benefited in the following areas:
- Recruitment and selection: Having a good portal attracts qualified employees. You can use the portal to educate potential employees about your organization, provide information about the organization’s vision and mission and information about career paths. In a way, you groom even before you hire. Once hired, you can get them to orient themselves to the organization and familiarize themselves on important aspects – crucial to establish the initial bond and settle in.
- Retention: You can use the portal to engage with employees, help them upgrade their knowledge and skills and adapt to the changing needs of the organization. You can provide access to courses that fulfill the current needs of the organization and provide opportunities to employees who wish to acquire new skills.
- Career growth through learning: You can develop programs for employees to augment their knowledge and skills and make themselves useful in multiple areas in the organization. You can provide options to advance their careers multifold through mentorship, coaching and online learning programs. All of these can be coordinated through the learning portal.
- Rewarding staff: E-learning portals help recognize star performers of organizations. News and information about activities happening within departments can be shared across the organization, giving a morale boost to start performers or team achievements.
- Succession planning: E-learning portals also help to identify and develop outstanding workers who have demonstrated interest and willingness to augment their knowledge and skills. Individuals with relevant skills and competencies can be identified, nurtured and mentored to make their mark in the organization.
Effective ways to create eLearning portals
The best way to create eLearning portals depends on the features and objectives you wish to fulfill through the portal. You could have simple web portals that serve as a central repository of resources such as a eLearning courses, job-aids, checklists, reference manuals etc. You could add interactive elements, blogs, wikis and social media interactivities to the portal to facilitate people to people interaction.
However, these days, thanks to open source options such as Moodle, you can create learning portals that are very powerful, give you options to track learning activities, generate reports and do a lot more. For more information on customization of open source LMS, check out the following presentation.
E-learning portals can be cost-effective way to foray into online training within your organization. With an open source LMS, you can scale up as you grow without having to incur expensive infrastructural investments.