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By Nancy Higley, EAS Independent Consultant

Continuous learning supports both business and employee goals. When you hire an employee, you are hiring an asset capable of continuous growth. An educated professional can be a point of difference for your business.

There is no one solution for Learning and Development (L&D). Instead, think of L&D as a learning ecosystem that typically includes categories (a) on the job (b) instructor led (c) eLearning and (d) mentoring/coaching. This article primarily focuses on the role of eLearning.

Harvard Business School suggests that one way to increase effectiveness and corporate training program return on investment is by incorporating elements of blended learning. Blended learning (also known as “hybrid learning”), complements in-person training and classroom instruction with online applied learning. Some of the advantages of include:

  • Provides more engaging content for employees to learn new skills. Employees lose 90% of newly learned skills once they go back to their jobs. Bite-sized content is more fun and visually easier for workers to consume and remember.
  • Reach more people. Online learning content is easy to scale globally across multiple offices. It allows for consistent messaging and on-demand learning.
  • More cost-effective than in-person training. An eLearning approach to corporate training can save approximately 20% in the first year of implementation and up to 50% in following years.
  • It is easier to track progress. Online learning systems allow for companies to consistently track the progress of their employees through assessment and feedback.

To strengthen the learning chain by implementing a blended model, one of your first actions is to take a step back and consider what your L&D is providing against the business goals.

  • What does your learner need to learn?
  • How can instructor-led sessions be developed as eLearning so that learners can participate on their own time and at their own pace?
  • How can eLearning support a scheduled instructor-led, in-person/webinar session? Moving some course content to eLearning also benefits the instructor-led sessions by allowing instructors to concentrate more on the application of knowledge or on more complicated tasks. This process, known as flipped learning, can provide the “what” while the instructor-led content can focus on the “how.”

The software to deliver the eLearning course, in my opinion, is less important than the following steps:

  • Set clear goals. Understand the characteristics of the learner – their motivation, prior knowledge, geographical location/language/culture, and access to technology. This drives connection with the learners and more successful creation of an online environment.
  • Conceptualize design. Before jumping into course content, consider the types of activities, experiences, tools, and tips that are most likely to work for the audience. Of the several methodologies for this step, my preference is storyboarding which sets out a sequence of potential pages and videos.
  • Create content. Only when you know what each page should include should you touch your authoring tool. This is the most time-consuming step. Having subject matter experts (SMEs) available is critical, and you can consider reaching out to organizations with access to a range of expertise. Beware of simply “lifting and shifting” long detailed power points and documents into the course. Use your design model to “chunk” the information to meet your learner characteristics.
  • Analyze and iterate. Allow time for reviewing the content and its performance, gathering feedback, and making improvements. Collaborative authoring tools enable a team from diverse locations to efficiently review the content in an iterative manner.
  • Deployment and analytics. The eLearning can be distributed separately or as a series of courses within a Learning Management System (LMS). Many companies have an internal LMS, but in the absence of a company LMS, there are opportunities to partner with external sources that can function as LMS administrator and communicator of ROI analytics.

L&D programs provide a host of benefits – enhancement of employee performance, boosting employee productivity, reducing employee turnover, and improving company culture.

A blended learning program, with eLearning as a tool, can help realize the business goals while satisfying the cognitive flexibility theory – “Given the choice, a learner will always choose the way he or she learns best” and doing so cost-effectively.

EAS independent consultant, Nancy Higley Ph.D., designs customized learning modules focused on the job skills, primarily in the areas of regulatory and toxicology. Her approach is to create bite-sized learning and knowledge transfer in a manner that is effective and easily digestible for effective learning.

When you need to create your next education program, think about an eLearning module approach and contact EAS’s Tim Lombardo to discuss how a blended learning experience might be right for you.

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