E-learning Trends: Things That Are Changing The Training Landscape

E-learning is widely used by organizations worldwide to impart high quality training to their workforces. According to the e-learning magazine, in 2012, 50% of training hours are being deployed through eLearning, blended, online or virtual medium. What makes the online training medium so popular? It is the ability of eLearning to satisfy the ever-evolving needs of organizations and learners that makes it the choice of training managers. Let us now see some of the latest trends in the world of online training.

Development of eLearning curricula

Earlier, eLearning courses were developed as standalone modules. Each module was totally "disconnected" from others. Now, the situation has changed, and organizations are thinking in terms of curricula.

After analyzing the training needs, firms segregate the curriculum into different parts on the basis of the medium used to deliver training. Some parts of the curriculum may be delivered through classroom training sessions and some others through eLearning. In some cases, the entire curriculum may be delivered online.

The development of eLearning curricula is much cheaper than developing individual online courses. Therefore, many organizations are planning to develop eLearning curriculums to comprehensively cover various subjects.

Training through Byte-sized nuggets

In today's fast-paced world that is characterized by severe time constraints, learners cannot concentrate effectively if the courses are long. Companies have realized that it is better to deliver specific information that allows them to perform their jobs better. Therefore, there is a steady increase in the usage of learning nuggets to provide training.

Furthermore, people digest only small amounts of information at any given point of time. So, instead of "bombarding" your learners with an hour long course, you can use byte-sized courses that have a span of 15-20 minutes to impart training to your employees. This goes a long way in improving effective comprehension and retention of the learning content. According to the Journal of Applied Psychology, learning in smaller chunks can improve the knowledge transfer by 17%. BBC, in 2002, compared byte-sized learning with longer training sessions and found that learning in smaller chunks had greater retention and understanding among the learners

Even the certification courses, which usually are of one hour in duration, are now being broken into short modules of 15 to 20 minutes.

Training through Byte-sized nuggets

Byte-sized courses are ideal to provide just-in-time (JIT) support to your staff as they can accesses information in real time and use it immediately. For example, a medical representative can instantly respond to the query of a doctor about his company's latest drug by accessing the needed information on his iPad.

These short courses are ideal to impart effective training to the burgeoning Gen-Y workforce. This younger generation of employees is tech-savvy and is adept at the use of advanced technology. These "screenagers" prefer instant access to the information they need, and byte-sized courses are the perfect means to satisfy this need.

Byte-sized courses help your learners to make the best use of their time. They can access these courses even in "dead time", i.e. hours normally considered unsuitable for learning. For instance, they can access these courses on their mobile devices during travel or while waiting at the airport.

Use of Responsive Design

Forrester reports that 66% of employees use more than one device. Smartphones, laptops, desktops and tablets are extensively used to access the Internet. Therefore, we may assume that the learner may use more than one device to access the course. Therefore, you need to develop courses that are accessible seamlessly on all devices irrespective of their screen size. This requirement gave rise to the concept of responsive eLearning design.

Use of Responsive Design

As a training manager you can develop responsive eLearning courses that can be accessed easily not only on mobiles but also on all devices including desktops and laptop computers. Effective access of your eLearning courses on multiple devices saves precious time and invaluable training dollars as you need to develop only a single version of the course that is accessible on all devices.

You can also track the learner’s progress irrespective of the device they use, thanks to the latest learning standard Tin Can API. This blog provides more details about Tin Can API.

Responsive design provides unparalleled flexibility to your learners. Your people can access a part of the course on the desktop computers in your organization and continue with the remaining parts on their mobile devices, after leaving the workplace. The content gets adjusted automatically to the screen size of the device used, and there will be no overlapping of content, images or other elements.

Conversion of existing Flash-based courses

For years, Flash was the darling of eLearning course developers. This incredible tool was used to develop courses with rich interactivities, animations, games, advanced simulations and other instructional elements. It is no exaggeration to say that this product from Adobe "injected" life into the online training environment.

But Flash based courses cannot be accessed effectively on iPads, iPhones and other mobile devices. Companies began to publish the content of their legacy courses to HTML5, so that these courses can be accessed on iPads and other mobile devices.

The need to make online courses mobile compatible has paved the way for the advent of many new authoring tools that can publish the courses to HTML5, a format that is mobile-friendly. The major authoring tools that are used to update legacy Flash courses are Articulate Storyline, Captivate and Lectora.

Let us now look at some of the benefits that are compelling organizations to re-create their existing courses with rapid authoring tools.

Unlike Flash, rapid authoring software allows updates or minor changes to be made easily and quickly without the help of programmers.

The translation of Flash-based courses is a lengthy process. You need to extract the content, insert it on a standard template and finally replace the translated content into the course manually. You have no such problems with rapid authoring tools. You can translate your courses with just a click.

Flash courses cannot be played on iPads or on the latest version of Android tabs. But with rapid authoring tools, your courses can be made multi-device compatible, so that they can run on PCs or iPads.

Translation of digital courses into multiple languages

We have conducted a survey in which 200 organizations across 33 countries participated. About 59% indicated that multi-language eLearning was important to their organizations. 85% of the respondents shared that they translated their online courses into nearly 10 different languages. These statistics highlight the importance of translation in training the global workforce.

Today, all that a training manager has to do is develop a culture-neutral course in English and then get this course translated into different languages. This is very efficient and cost-effective because the organization need not develop courses separately in each language.

Translations also help reduce the burden on the SMEs as they don’t need to travel extensively to train global workforces.

Rendering the courses into the native languages of learners increases their efficacy because learners understand the content better, when it is delivered in their mother tongue. This results in effective learning. Therefore, wherever possible, it is advisable to offer eLearning courses in the learner’s native language.

Customer education through eLearning

It is well said that customer is the king of any business. It is very important to retain and widen the existing customer base. In these days of continuous product launches, the cost of acquiring new customers has increased substantially.

A less expensive way to acquire customers is to educate them on the benefits of using your products. This also helps improve customer loyalty and satisfaction. Training customers on the new products through eLearning is the latest trend in the world of business. According to the 2010 Aberdeen Group study, 51% of organizations have trained their customers using this method.

There are various modes of online learning to educate and support customers. These include webinars, videos, info-graphics, eBooks and mobile applications. Check out this blog on how webinars can improve your sales.

Electronic Books or eBooks are a very popular means of imparting highly effective training to customers. They can be accessed through the Internet, using PCs and iPads. You can convert your whitepapers into interactive eBooks and include videos and interactivities. You need to make them compatible with multiple devices. This will increase registrations and downloads.

If you need to stay ahead in a fiercely competitive world, you need to come up with creative technological solutions like mobile applications to help your prospects and customers. You can convert your existing PDF files, PowerPoint presentations, audio and videos into mobile applications.

Videos on product or processes spanning 2 to 3 minutes are widely used to train customers. They can be hosted on your website and YouTube and are easily accessible. They ensure high visibility of your products and services.

These developments have indeed radically altered the corporate training landscape. What do you think? We’d love to hear your views.

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