Business leaders are being urged to challenge their expectations in the latest Towards Maturity report.
But what assumptions about elearning should they cast aside? What should they demand from elearning in future?
Towards Maturity’s latest industry benchmark report, Embracing Change includes insights from more than 600 Learning and Development (L&D) leaders from over 50 countries. It makes the case for a shift in thinking away from ‘traditional’ ideas about workplace training, and points to the activities of top performing L&D leaders who are taking a fundamentally different approach and achieving much more.
One particular section of this comprehensive document lays down a challenge to business leaders to expect more from L&D.“Significant business improvement can be achieved through the digital transformation of learning strategies when business leaders demand more than just efficiency.” - Embracing Change, Towards Maturity.
This post takes the report’s theme of ‘expect more’ and applies it specifically to elearning, which continues to be used by 90% of the organisations surveyed. But what should business leaders demand from elearning in the context of change?
Elearning can deliver critical business benefits for organisations, but in the past it has sometimes failed to prove its value or contribute in the right areas.
Showing evidence of impact is often limited to feedback surveys, learner questionnaires or course completion data. Of course, these have their place, but they don’t show the difference elearning can make to the central goals of an organisation, and ultimately the bottom line.
The Embracing Change report urges L&D to align more closely to business objectives to achieve a greater impact. The findings from the best performing organisations underline the benefits of this approach.
The top 10% were five times more likely to agree that they are improving productivity, employee engagement and business responsiveness, compared to the bottom quartile of the index. Those involved in commissioning and creating elearning will need to find robust ways of evaluating it and demonstrating its value against KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that fit tightly with business goals.
In hindsight it sounds obvious, but business leaders should expect elearning to make a difference in the areas that matter most to their organisation, whether that’s customer satisfaction, productivity or sales.
Dave Buglass of Tesco Bank has a warning in the foreword of Embracing Change.“If we continue to do what we have always done, many [organisations] will continue to fall short of their full potential,” he said.
In terms of elearning, breaking with the past must mean moving beyond long, unimaginative, ‘click next’ content that leaves learners feeling bored and demotivated. Thinking deeply about the needs of the audience and the most effective way to connect with them is far more likely to deliver tangible results. This will take both creativity and innovation. Obviously, technology has a role to play, but innovation in learning design is equally as important.
Expect more than a course
More than 90% of top performing organisations questioned for the Embracing Change report considered the ‘course’ as only one option for building skills and performance.
Yet, elearning is all too often created and deployed as just that - a single online module in isolation. Finding ways to extend elearning and combine it with other learning approaches and technologies to maximise its effectiveness is no longer just desirable - it’s essential.
Using elearning in conjunction with learning campaigns, social elements, face-to-face sessions and learner-generated content can increase its effectiveness and impact.Business leaders should be prepared to ask questions about how elearning can add value above and beyond its existence as a single course.
In summary, expect impact, expect innovation and expect elearning that moves beyond a ‘traditional’ course – don’t settle for less.
If we demand more of workplace elearning it can play a greater role in helping to improve business performance.