1. Attract, Develop and Retain Talent
More than ever workers rank opportunities for learning & development as a primary source of job satisfaction. A robust learning & development program is therefore more essential than ever to both attract talent and keep it. An online learning initiative can of course be used to onboard new hires, but it can also be used to develop employees far beyond the onboarding phase. In fact, offering opportunities for growth — in both hard and soft skills — is an ideal way to motivate employees and signal the importance of continuous development. Unlike in-person learning, online learning also allows employees to learn in a self-directed manner, exploring those courses and skills that interest them personally. Self-paced courses mean no one is left behind or stuck waiting for the course to move on. And with online learning, the material can always be referenced again long after the course has finished, unlike with in-person learning.
2. Reach a Large, Distributed Audience
Training a large, distributed workforce can be both costly and logistically difficult. Online learning provides a cost-effective and highly scalable solution to the problem. Because it can be accessed anytime, anywhere an online learning platform is an ideal vehicle to train the modern workforce. We’ve recently deployed a platform for the US Air Force designed to accommodate over 700,000 learners all across the world. Until the advent of online learning such reach was practically impossible. Moreover, when training materials are provided online, the marginal cost for delivering training to users is essentially zero.
Accessibility is not a minor point. Reducing barriers to entry and providing on-demand learning makes it far more like that employees choose to use the platform. When accessing the material is easy and convenient learners are more likely to engage with it continuously and productively. MasterCard found that by thinking of learning as a product and employees as consumers they were able to significantly improve learning outcomes. As with any product, if you want consumers to engage with a corporate learning program it’s essential to drive down the cost of consumption as much as possible. That means making it as available as possible — perhaps even with mobile apps — and as easy to use as possible. Accessibility improves both reach and results.
3. Track Progress and Certifications
Online learning allows for in-depth reporting about the learning experience. An analytics suite that provides detailed, quantitative data about how learners are engaging with course materials and performing on assessments makes it far easier to determine how and where to improve learning outcomes. By implementing custom analytics criteria businesses can extract the data they need to make informed, actionable analyses.
Furthermore, implementing learner profiles makes it instantly clear who has taken which courses, developed which skills, and achieved which certifications. Awarding badges or certifications upon completion of continuing professional education (or other compliance and regulatory training) is a user-friendly way to both administer CPE and verify who has completed it. Of course, badges can be awarded for other types of courses, too — as well as entire course tracks. For example, awarding a badge upon completion of a leadership course track might signal that the user is interested in future leadership roles and has undertaken training in service of that goal. And by providing rich dashboards for users and administrators alike, this sort of progress becomes easy to track and verify.
On top of that, the elements that make it easier to track and verify progress — profiles, badges, dashboards, etc. — also add an element of gamification to the platform, which has been shown to increase engagement and, thereby, learning outcomes. That said, incorporating additional gamification elements is never a bad idea. Advanced elements like leaderboards, avatars, content unlocking, challenges and more can further engage users and encourage more active use of the learning platform.
4. Foster Community Engagement
The most successful corporate learning programs do more than simply train and develop employees — they also encourage employees to interact and build relationships with each other. Corporate learning should encourage a productive, collaborative environment just as much as it imparts skills and knowledge. There are several ways to do this. Built-in video conferencing features allow for natural discussions in real-time and are ideal for workforces distributed across great distances. Discussion forums provide an avenue for learners to pose and answer questions with fellow learners and instructors alike. Building more advanced social networking features into the platform can provide even more benefit. Incorporating elements like learner profiles, private messaging, likes and real-time notifications encourages the spontaneous interactions and organic discussions that help build a sense of community.
Of course, social components are beneficial from the pedagogical standpoint, too. In fact, facilitating informal discussion and collaboration is the surest way to promote social learning, which the research shows leads to more impactful learning outcomes all around. By designing courses around these social networking features, businesses can thereby foster community engagement while simultaneously improving the effectiveness of their courses.
5. Educate Customers
To be sure, corporate learning isn’t necessarily inward facing. Educating customers can be just as essential as educating employees. Salesforce found that a robust customer education program is essential in providing cheaper, more effective customer support. And if customers need help with using your product or service, an online customer education program can be there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Factor in the cost savings and the value proposition is clear.
That said, online customer education can offer advantages beyond availability and low-cost. It can also be used as a business development tool by increasing brand awareness, fostering customer engagement, and providing opportunities to cross-sell. Best of all, when it’s offered online customer education can do all those things in the background — automatically and for no additional cost.
Are you interested in learning more about online learning can impact your business? Get in touch!