These emerging trends in eLearning can improve your workplace training
A growing number of businesses are using eLearning principles to train their teams, relying on digital tools to deliver knowledge, reinforce information and test proficiency. But it’s not just about formatting lessons for a laptop or mobile screen. Certain eLearning industry trends have become especially popular in the workplace due to their effectiveness and—in some cases—necessity.
These eLearning trends, when applied to an existing training program, can help organizations to achieve greater effectiveness with their learning goals.
More companies are focusing their energies on hybrid learning because they’re realizing that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. This is becoming increasingly apparent as the rise of remote employment continues to change the business landscape.
Hybrid learning is not about using the same solutions to support people both in the office and at home. Rather, it’s about equity. In other words, you need a solution that meets the needs of office workers, a solution that meets the needs of remote workers and a solution that meets the needs of frontline workers—rather than building a single solution that caters to the lowest common denominator.
Take instructor-led training as an example. If 80% of people are in a room and 20% of people are watching on a screen as part of an online learning experience, that’s not equitable. Either people in the room are going to have a poor experience as you try to cater to remote participants, or the remote participants are going to watch a limited version of the class and won’t be able to meaningfully engage.
So the question becomes, how do you promote an equitable experience? Let’s say that you’re a grocer. You have some people who work in a support center, some who work remotely and some who work in the stores. To create an equitable experience for this diverse group of individuals, you first need to determine the knowledge and skills requirements for each one and identify their day-to-day working realities. How much time do they have available? What types of devices do they use?
The office and remote worker might have time to work on time management-related training activities, but the frontline employee might not. But if you design a microlearning program just for the frontline employee, the corporate employee might prefer the longer-form training. You have to know your audience, and devise solutions, to help each person develop the required skills. Even if everyone benefits from the same type of learning, the same delivery system might not be ideal for all.
Changing skill requirements
Research from LinkedIn has found that 63% of Millennials and 58% of Gen Zers are interested in learning a new skill but simply don’t have the time. People are overly busy thanks to labor shortages, hiring challenges and the need to take on multiple roles and responsibilities. So how do you make L&D better fit into the day-to-day experience of work?
This challenge has given way to another important trend toward streamlined skills development. We’re seeing this, for instance, in the onboarding process. If you’re struggling to hire people, it means you can’t dedicate weeks to onboarding. If you want to embed training as part of work so people don’t get left behind, you have to focus on critical compliance training up front—things the employee needs to do the job. Then the employee learns as they go, within the time they have available, rather than being forced to find time during their busy work schedules.
The “learn as you go” model doesn’t just apply to sharpening one’s existing skills. It also increasingly includes cross-training, or training people up for different roles. To keep up with the demands of this economy, it’s important to build an agile workforce. Cross-training makes that possible.
A new grocery store employee, for example, might focus on cash register fundamentals as part of their onboarding. With that knowledge, they can get right to work. Then, as they get acclimated to the job, they’ll expand their knowledge to include principles like product knowledge, spotting counterfeit bills, customer communication and conflict resolution.
Once they’ve been introduced to all the tenets of their main job, their short daily training lessons may expand to include lessons related to the produce department or bakery via a grocery training LMS like Axonify.
Now, if a bakery employee suddenly quits, the agile employee can take their place on short notice. They already have a knowledge foundation.
More and more employers are incorporating mobile technologies into the workplace and implementing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies whereby employees can complete their digital training and perform other web-based workplace tasks on their mobile phones.
Mobile devices are becoming increasingly commonplace even on the frontline. L&D has struggled with the concept of mobile learning since the advent of the Blackberry and iPhone, but it’s more important than ever for businesses to leverage these devices to help people when and where they need it.
As managers and L&D professionals, we need to go to the audience—and not have them come to us with time they don’t have and tech they rarely use. The smartphone is most people’s favorite computer, so why not leverage that?
Employees are far more likely to engage with daily training lessons when they’re easy and convenient to access, and that’s why digital learning solutions should be mobile-optimized, easy to use and in accordance with the standards used by other easy and value-added apps already on the user’s phone. The user should have the ability to learn on the go, from any location and with minimal hassle.
Motivation and engagement
The digital learning process can only be effective when it’s motivating and engaging. It must serve a purpose that employees can understand. It should be fun. It should be challenging but not impossibly frustrating. It should also align with brain science principles, such as keeping the lessons short and using spaced repetition to reinforce information.
This is why companies like Axonify invest heavily in developing learning platforms based on proven employee engagement strategies and guided by artificial intelligence. Our short microlearning lessons help to prevent cognitive overload, while questions and concepts are continually reintroduced at spaced intervals to help the information stick. Adaptive learning, social learning and game mechanics further motivate users to log in every day and complete their lessons. Features like these are a big part of why companies that use Axonify boast an average 83% participation rate among learners.
Digital learning can become especially motivating when it’s tied to physical rewards. The prospect of a real reward adds a sense of tangible value to the effort made. Common rewards include cash bonuses, gift cards, premium parking and paid time off.
The prospect of career advancement is another huge reward for many people. The completion of training objectives can be part of a career development plan for ambitious employees who want to climb the ladder. Gallup research has found that employees who have discussed career developments with their managers in the last 6 months are more than 3 times more likely to be engaged, so these opportunities have tangible results.
How to capitalize on the top eLearning trends
Everybody wants to be on the cutting edge. Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter whether you opt for game-based learning, video-based learning or even augmented reality or virtual reality. The big thing to keep in mind when developing online courses or any type of training program for your team is that time is scarce and valuable. People have limited extra time, especially when staffing is a challenge. But learning takes time, so it makes sense to look at learning and skill development in terms of minutes, not courses.
Fit opportunities to build new skills over time into bite-sized bursts of elearning that ensure new employees are trained up as quickly as possible.
And to ensure that these concepts stick, make sure to leverage that limited time in a way that’s engaging and accessible. This will require different strategies for different teams, but the basic rules are universal regardless of your eLearning strategy: Keep it short, keep it impactful, focus on customized learning paths and harness the full potential of technology to create an excellent user experience.