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Blog : Are you staking it all on eLearning?


Are you staking it all on eLearning?

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Business author and CEO, Jane Sunley, advises very careful thinking before investing in eLearning as a solution to engaging your people.

It seems that some organisations are investing relatively heavily in eLearning, believing that they then have the ‘people engagement box’ ticked. One company bought into an ‘unlimited eLearning platform’, buying licenses for over 5000 employees. After the initial excitement had died down, the take up percentage from users was in single figures, resulting in a negative return on their investment. Why? Because where do today’s employees go if they need to know something? They ask a colleague. Or they Google it. That’s how the world works now.

ELearning is useful delivering and recording statutory learning, for example a food hygiene certificate. Or at the other end of the scale for accessing specific expertise remotely, for example leadership learning from Cornell University.

In the wider sense though, if you were to ask elearners whether they’ve ever used it as a ‘just in time’ resource, whether they’d ever voluntarily revisited an eLearning module just to recheck the learning, whether they’d invest in it as a priority if they were you, I’m pretty sure that the response would be a resounding ‘No’.

A few years ago when Flash technology was ‘the thing’, elearning became a popular and engaging method of delivery.  However the world is a very different place today; it’s hard for eLearning not to look clunky in light of:

  • The ‘just in time’ desires of today’s learner
  • Short attention spans
  • Hand held devices with access to everything
  • Learning APIs (in their myriads)
  • Wearable technology
  • Visual open source resources such as You Tube
  • Superior ‘people tech’ that goes way beyond  elearning

Even if eLearning is bang up to date and employs knowledge checks, scenarios and gamification to increase interactivity, employers are still in danger of the ‘sheep-dipping’ approach.  

This is because learning in 2015 is not something that ‘happens to people’ at prior events or sitting in front of a PC; it's something that people want to own and experience continuously, interacting with other people, in their day to day life and work. And they want it ‘just in time’ because there’s so much going on that otherwise, they will forget what they learned. As a result, many eLearning providers are themselves now predicting a sharp decline in the popularity of eLearning.

In response, the smart businesses are investing in more sophisticated tech (such as our own Talent Toolbox™) that will enable a bottom up approach to the ‘people stuff’, helping people to drive their own careers (including accessing their learning and development as and when needed and in a variety of ways).  They’re building learning cultures whereby everyone supports one another’s journey towards learning encouraging interactions with real people; their peers, mentors and coaches. And using a variety of low-cost, no-cost learning (such as projects, experiences, job swaps and so on) and collaborative team working to broaden the mind. As learners develop the mindset, skills, and culture to be continuous learners this approach gathers momentum, it becomes an upward spiral.

Learning must exist essentially in places where learners actually learn: in their workplace, with their peers, and where and when they need it. Does yours?


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