The need for speed: 5 keys for effective eLearning

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Quick. Describe your company’s training program in a sentence or two.

Did your description include adjectives like rapid, efficient, or speedy? If not, it probably should. To keep pace with the demands of the 21st-century workforce, training programs must do a lot more — and meet those demands in the blink of an eye.

A recent conversation I had with the CEO of a tech company drove home the ever-increasing connection between training strategies and a company’s bottom line. As we discussed modern learning needs and challenges, she shared an example of a hard lesson her company learned.

In the not-so-distant past, this company had to bump up the timing of a software launch due to competitive pressures. This shift put a spotlight on the organization’s eLearning capabilities, underscoring the significant amount of time it took to create and deploy new materials.

To meet its accelerated launch timeline, the company had to make do with impromptu online workshops and product sheets for its remote sales teams. These suboptimal training options caused the launch to fall flat, and results were lower than expected.

After this painful lesson, the company invested in a simple learning management system (LMS) that can better flex to fit changing needs. With the technology in place to rapidly create, deploy, and adapt online training, the company’s sales team is well-prepared and able to meet its sales goals.

Plan for constant change

Even the most meticulously assembled eLearning courses can quickly become outdated. Company and employee needs change every day, and technology and techniques are constantly evolving. More immersive and interactive options, such as mobile-friendly eLearning and virtual reality simulations, are rapidly redefining our training expectations.

In response, 67% of companies have increased their online training budgets to keep their team members’ skills sharp. Despite this investment, many companies view course creation and eLearning software upgrades as periodic expenses. The secret to keeping up with training demands and technological innovation is building ongoing maintenance and refreshes into your budget.

That ongoing investment means that when your company is faced with changing objectives or an aggressive training deadline — like my CEO friend from before — your team is ready to face the challenge. These five steps will ensure your training is quick, nimble, and, most importantly, effective:

1. Reduce development time with rapid eLearning authoring tools.

Here’s a secret: Don’t wait to overhaul your training tools until you’re in a bind. Invest in rapid eLearning software, which typically features ready-made themes and other plug-and-play assets that can significantly reduce your development timeline.

Instead of starting from scratch every time, rapid eLearning authoring tools help you create customized online courses quickly and make changes on the fly without involving (or paying for) IT and graphic design resources.

Rapid eLearning authoring tools also make repurposing existing courses easy. Take stock of your eLearning assets to identify minor adjustments along the way that will keep your content relevant and fresh.

2. Create standard templates for easy updating.

Combine authoring tools with eLearning templates that create a standard structure and ensure consistent branding and thematic elements. Rapid eLearning templates provide a starting point that speeds up development and curbs costs.

Updates are easier as well. With reusable eLearning course templates and rapid eLearning development tools, making changes to reflect organizational goals, branding adjustments, or quality assurance test results is simple.

3. Build in stakeholder involvement from the start.

Don’t wait until a course is created to seek feedback — engage all members of your team at the beginning. Start by developing an eLearning storyboard, which gives stakeholders something to react to and helps everyone understand your vision for the finished product.

The storyboard approach reduces revisions later in the process, which can be incredibly costly. And when one of your experts points out a content gap during the planning stages, you’re able to adjust and move forward without blowing up your timeline. No last-minute scrambling required.

4. Choose a user-friendly LMS.

Your LMS should make things easier. Do your homework to make sure you’re selecting a simple LMS that doesn’t come with a steep learning curve that might delay deployment. Your team’s technical skills and experience should be important factors in your selection.

Look for an intuitive user interface, customizable dashboards, and advanced reporting tools that are easy to use. Some simple LMS platforms include the added efficiency of built-in authoring tools that enable your team to create, deploy, and track courses all from a single platform.

5. Don’t forget just-in-time support tools.

When you’re pressed for time, microlearning online support libraries are often an afterthought. But don’t shortchange these important just-in-time elements of your integrated training program.

Busy employees value shorter, convenient content because lengthy courses can be daunting and difficult to complete during the workday. Consider a 24/7 approach to learning by breaking content into five-minute segments that employees can access using their own devices while on a break or during a commute.

Rapid eLearning development tools also enable your team to quickly create and deploy bite-sized content that keeps employees up to speed. With just-in-time support tools, you’re able to deliver timely content that connects your product to current events or provides information about newly passed regulations.

There’s nothing worse than a well-assembled training course that’s collecting dust because portions became outdated and developing a replacement would have required a complete overhaul.

Investing in rapid eLearning development tools and creating reusable templates takes a little more effort at the outset, but it’s relatively easy to make a compelling business case. Just don’t wait until a deadline is looming.

Explore your options to identify a simple LMS that fits your company’s needs and keeps pace with technological advances. Getting it right the first time streamlines the creation and maintenance of online training by optimizing your resources, saving money, and ensuring effective training delivery.

About Christopher Pappas

Christopher Pappas, CEO of eLearning Industry

Christopher Pappas is the founder of eLearning Industry, the largest online community of eLearning professionals in the world. Christopher established the company as a safe online community for eLearning professionals and instructional designers to connect and share their knowledge. Christopher holds an MBA and a Master of Education from Bowling Green State University. Connect with him on Twitter.

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