How modern innovation in eLearning is reshaping the workplace
eLearning innovations aren’t just influencing the classroom and conventional online courses— they’re also transforming the workplace training experience. When people think of digital learning in the workplace, they often think of the learning management system (LMS). But digital learning is bigger than the LMS today.
Learning is becoming part of a larger, digitally enabled work experience, and nowhere is this more apparent than on the frontline. Organizations must evolve their perspective on the use of technology in learning to maximize the potential for modern tech and take advantage of the latest learning innovation.
A growing number of innovative companies are incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into their learning programs. Simply put, artificial intelligence is the ability of a computer—or a robot controlled by a computer—to do tasks that are usually done by humans because they require human intelligence and discernment. Technology leverages data to solve problems and deliver experiences in ways that are not entirely pre-determined by an administrator.
The use of AI has exploded in industries like financial services, tech and retail. In terms of eLearning programs, AI is demonstrating tremendous value in a few key areas:
An AI tool can help you produce training content more quickly. For example, Axonify has an authoring tool that’s question-specific. We’ve trained our machine learning tool how to write questions based on our methodology. The tool can examine the lesson provided, assess the meaning behind the content and draft quiz questions accordingly. And then instructional designers review, improve and release the content.
This tool doesn’t replace the human author. It’s a content assistant that allows the author to move faster, focus on more projects and focus their skills in the right places.
Translation is helping to keep large, diverse and multinational teams connected, and AI is playing a huge role. If a user posts a communication in their native language, the AI tool translates it into each colleague’s preferred language, thereby eliminating any vocabulary barriers and ensuring that everyone stays on the same page.
Google Translate, which Axonify has enabled—along with other premium translation options—is just one translation technology that companies can use for their workplace learning and communication tools.
Measurement tools are increasingly becoming machine-learning based. In the past, workplace learning tools could only provide basic metrics about quiz scores, participation and other easily quantifiable objectives. Today, AI technologies enable measurement based on much more complex data, so administrators can actually see how their learning impacts business results and KPIs.
For example, Axonify users can track how their training efforts are influencing factors like sales, revenue and customer satisfaction. Administrators can then use this data to make targeted improvements to the training.
Natural language understanding
AI tools have come a long way in terms of understanding not only words on a page but the intent behind those words. Some digital workplace tools are making use of this innovation by enabling it within features such as chatbots and search boxes.
For instance, a chatbot may be able to assess the meaning of a specific user query and determine where to send the information based on the question asked. When embedded within an LMS or other workplace technology, it can allow users to ask questions and receive instant answers whenever they’re confused about a feature, struggling to access a page or unable to find a document or lesson that they need in the moment.
Building skills profiles
There’s tremendous value in building skills profiles for digital learners because it allows the platform to customize the learning material accordingly. AI is making it easier than ever to build these profiles thanks to the ability to scrape data from existing online profiles—like LinkedIn, for example.
In some cases, assessing a user’s existing knowledge and building a comprehensive skills profile is an important first step in personalizing the content, which leads us right into our next innovation.
While personalizing the subject matter is important, personalization in learning goes beyond the content and extends to the entire experience as enabled by data and tech. The experience itself changes depending on how you engage with it.
Personalizing the learning experience
Many modern learning tools use adaptive learning to customize the materials for each learner. Pre-programmed algorithms assess each learner’s progress and nudge them to focus on the right topics based on their performance needs. So, for example, if a grocery store associate is having difficulty remembering common PLU codes, those codes might be reinforced more often as part of the learning experience.
Personalizing the user experience
In a truly personalized learning platform, the system can identify which parts of the system you prefer and then nudge you in those directions. So if you like to visit the leaderboard a lot, you might receive more updates about the leaderboard. Translation is another example of personalization. You can read messages in your preferred language even if they were written in an unfamiliar language.
Personalizing the broader work experience
Personalization also extends to the ways in which employees are supported at work and harnessing tech in a way that allows managers to have better coaching conversations with their teams. This harkens back to measurement, as the right in-depth analytics give managers better insights into where individual team members require additional training, assistance or support.
Bring your own device (BYOD)
It’s estimated that 85% of Americans now own a smartphone, but employers have long been hesitant about incorporating these devices into the flow of work. But since 2020, we’ve witnessed a major digital transformation of the workplace experience, especially as it pertains to frontline workers.
Access is more important than ever for employees
Post-2020, there are a lot more handheld devices in frontline spaces because the work has become more digital than ever before. For instance, grocery workers are now taking online orders, chatting with the customer and operating fulfillment operations out of the back of the store—and many of these employees are using their personal devices to facilitate these transactions.
Because more employees are already using their personal devices on the job, digital learning is becoming ubiquitous. The same mobile technology that accesses point-of-sale systems can also be used to access an eLearning course on the go. Those grocery workers can access mobile learning and support when and where they need it via a mobile-friendly grocery training LMS.
Access is more important than ever for employers as well
BYOD policies also allow employers to remain better connected to their teams. Many organizations have realized that they’re struggling to reach their employees. As a result, they recognize the need to leverage the devices that those employees are already carrying.
BYOD has naturally become more popular over the last couple of years as employers have needed to reach employees at home during furloughs and lockdowns and in other situations where face-to-face communication isn’t possible.
Modern learning content should support the BYOD trend
When developing digital learning tools, learning teams should focus on designing resources that can be accessed regardless of the tool. Otherwise they’re inherently limiting. A good piece of content on a 30-inch screen vs. an 8-inch screen is very different. Some people may want to use their phone. Some may want to use a company handheld. Some may still prefer the back-office computer or a tablet in the break room.
Learning resources need to work across the board and reach all potential access points within a workplace. The first step is understanding the workplace and what access points are used to build the right content.
Device access is still a problem
Though a lot of progress has been made over the past couple of years, it’s worth noting that device access is still a problem. In many workplaces, company digital resources must still be accessed via a machine at the back of the store and it’s not embedded in the employee’s day-to-day experience. In addition, BYOD is still more common outside of North America due to differences in regulations, less legacy tech baggage and greater reliance on the phone as the primary computer.
From a learning perspective, the innovation lies in designing learning and support experiences that are device-agnostic. If you do that, you’ll be capitalizing on a growing trend while still being ahead of the curve.
All employers benefit from innovation in eLearning
The core benefits of eLearning haven’t changed substantially in the last decade. But if your organization can leverage the technology that’s already available and adapt workplace learning to the evolving needs of today’s frontline, you will see a difference—in your employees’ learning, performance and overall engagement