Expert Secrets: How to Create an Agile eLearning Experience


As the war for talent escalates amid a historic workforce shortage caused by a pandemic, creating and delivering effective learning and development programs has only gained in importance. In fact, many believe this is one of the differentiating characteristics of organizations that will be able to recruit and retain talent. After all, job seekers now expect employers to provide lifelong learning to help them succeed in their roles now and in the future.

Recently, Ian McNaught, client solutions architect at educational technology company Open LMS, shared the secrets of online learning instructional design in a session at the HR Exchange Live: Corporate Learning online event. EMEA. McNaught explained how to recognize the maturity of your learning and development plan and the transition to more continuing education programs. Ultimately, the goal should be to embed learning into the workflow.

For starters, McNaught, who was joined by Nia Humphreys, account manager at Open LMS, explained the misconception many have had about e-learning since the start of the pandemic. He wants people to understand that online learning is much more than the emergency distance learning that many made available in a pinch when the world was on lockdown.

LOOK: Streamlining training and development in a context of constant change: strategies to optimize your eLearning experiences

Additionally, McNaught wants to help organizations design agile education programs.

“Agility is key to creating sustainability,” McNaught said. “To be sustainable, you have to be able to evolve over time and be able to change. Agility can sometimes also mean disorganization, the unforeseen, chaos, doing whatever goes through your mind. With the right technology, I really believe that it is possible for agility and sustainability to work hand in hand. “

What level of learning organization maturity are you?

In 2012, human resources expert Josh Bersin published a study that included his findings on research on high-impact learning organizations. The maturity models in this study help HR managers identify where they are in the process and how to improve.

Level 1 Episodic / Programmatic: This is the least mature category. Companies at this stage are deploying training in a reactive manner. In other words, they offer something in response to a need but little or no planning or strategy is involved.

Level 2 Responsive / Contextualized: A company in this category already has a learning and development team in place. Maybe the staff already have some kind of design in place. But the main purpose of learning is to tick a few boxes. The majority of companies fell into this category in 2012 when the research was conducted.

Level 3 Continuous / Empowerment: At this stage, a company has decided to put talent development at the heart of its concerns. “At Level 3, it is recognized that business performance depends on individual performance,” McNaught said.

Level 4 Anticipation / Flow: This is the promised land for learning and development. This is the highest level of maturity, and few organizations reach this stage. Employees and managers live the culture of continuous learning. They use formal and informal learning and develop tools that feed their training and development strategy. Learning is part of the workflow.

What the study showed and McNaught pointed out is that high-impact learning organizations generated three times the profit growth of their competitors in the previous four years.

Move to a delivery-centric approach

Companies that have taken a content-centric approach have invested in large, sophisticated, and expensive courseware. These programs are often difficult to use and unaffordable. They also seem outdated because you can’t really adapt to the needs of the learners.

In contrast, companies that take a delivery-centric approach can quickly adapt and update their training and development offerings. There is drip delivery that enables continuous learning and ways to create adaptive learning journeys. Micro-learning is also possible.

Two types of instructional design

The backwards design allows you to start at the end and work backwards to create a program that works for your team or organization. The first step is to ask what the learners need to know at the end. Then you consider what is acceptable proof that there has been a transfer of knowledge. Finally, you think about the type of education required to acquire knowledge.

The other method, “Release Early, Release Often”, is for those who need to get the content to the learners as quickly as possible. Essentially, you are never done improving the content. Some of the revisions are based on learner feedback, and it’s still a work in progress.

What to look for in a platform

It is not easy to create a learning and development system that meets the needs of the organization and contributes to the culture of lifelong learning. But it will be more possible if you invest in the right kind of platform. Here is a checklist of what you might need:

  • Easy to use
  • No space limit
  • Ability to travel on many platforms
  • Supports external content
  • A variety of built-in tools for self-paced or instructor-led learning
  • Friendly and intuitive user experience for all roles
  • Multiple languages ​​supported in one system

Investing in the right technology for your organization can sometimes be a challenge. “Digital tools cannot give you this culture, but they will help or hinder its development,” McNaught said. “The right tools are a catalyst for unleashing the maturity of the learning organization.”

McNaught’s advice is to start small with your own human resources team. This allows you to test the waters, make adjustments, and gain leadership buy-in before rolling it out across the company. Humphreys agreed.

“ELearning is a huge box of all kinds of opportunities and options,” she said. “It can get very overwhelming very quickly.”

Starting small can help you move towards a more mature learning and development plan. Identify your level of maturity, set goals, and determine the type of L&D strategy and technology that will best serve your organization.

“A mature learning organization,” said McNaught, “is an agile organization, where learning and talent development is culturally embedded and strongly aligned with the organization’s mission.”

photo by George Milton for Pexels

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