Training in the time of Coronavirus | Second part | Can eLearning accelerate the economic recovery? If so, how?

Virtual Reality  Resized

Company processes are changing under the momentum of Digital Transformation and so is training. We have been talking about eLearning for some while (we wrote about it in our blog at the start of March) and I got the cue to return to the topic from an interesting article in EconomyUp on 30 March with the title: “eLearning: cos'è, come funziona, le piattaforme migliori per l'apprendimento online a distanza” [eLearning: what is it, how does it work, the best platforms for online distance learning]. Here I would like to summarise the contents of the article and offer you my comments and some additional information.

The EconomyUp article says “the future of training really has arrived … since the office is no longer the centre of gravity for all workers, eLearning is becoming crucial for keeping professional competencies up to date” and also that, given that people are now accustomed to using video content, “for many of them eLearning is preferable to other methods” but “whoever sees eLearning as a “technology” or a “platform” is not looking at the subject in a very forward-looking way”.

What characterises eLearning?

The capacity to “… improve the quality of learning by facilitating access to training content, enabling exchange and distance collaboration between participants and lecturers”.

According to author Marco Planzi, Associate Partner of Partners4Innovation, eLearning has three characteristics:

multimediality (i.e. integration between different media),

interactivity (i.e. the possibility to navigate video or visual material for a customised learning experience) and

human interaction i.e. the “…possibility to interact with lecturers/tutors/assistants and with other students to create collective learning environments”.

Aside from the characteristics of eLearning, the article also talks about ‘ingredients’:

the content (in various formats: videos, podcasts, news, exercises, challenges, tests, games, etc.),

the platform for accessing the content,

teaching coordination (to allow customisation of the process and means of access for each individual) and finally,

internal communication, to drive use of the platform, access to content and share objectives and results of the training.

There are five advantages for users:

  1. customisation,
  2. freedom of access,
  3. continuous professional development,
  4. quality of content,
  5. distances/journey times no longer a factor.

And four advantages for organisations:

  1. scalability (the larger the company population, the more economies of scale can be achieved),
  2. measurability (chance to use Analytics),
  3. continuity (training is always available and updatable and thus becomes continuous),
  4. repeatability.

So, to sum things up, eLearning has common characteristics and ingredients as well as advantages for the people being trained and the people providing this type of training.

What are the errors to avoid?

If you have been positively struck by the characteristics and the likely benefits, you’re probably wondering why eLearning has not been used more extensively until now, i.e. what are the most common errors and how can they be avoided?

According to the author – and we agree with him – they are:

poor quality of content (cheap videos produced with little thought);

poor quality of the graphics, oversight or editing (by people who have forgotten or don’t know that the design of content enhances the effectiveness of communication);

complex or shoddy looking platforms;

lack of teaching and communication coordination (it must not feel like an inferior choice to traditional teaching);

incomplete measurement of results (the “strength” of analytics is not used to transform training sessions into actual business conduct).

On top of this we would add: taking asynchronous initiatives, i.e. ones decided on the basis of content rather than actual requirements or, even worse, on the basis of the technological platform on its own (in the belief that content can simply be added at a later stage).

In these cases it almost feels like people are ticking boxes and moving on to what they perceive as the next issue, instead of actually trying to create a solution that is functional to the development of competencies and consistent with a strategy.

What are the current trends in eLearning?

eLearning isn’t exactly new but because of the coronavirus pandemic we are seeing a surge in interest as people cast aside their preconceived distrust. This means it’s worth examining the trends influencing the sector as they are described in the EconomyUp article - with the most important being the consumerisation of User Experience (UX), as the other trends stem from this.

Consumerisation means that the digital experience we have grown accustomed to has excellent service levels (applications with little to no errors, functioning guaranteed 24/7, satisfactory security levels) and user experience. This has raised the bar in terms of users’ expectations, as they now expect similar conditions for professional applications and eLearning systems. Just think of yoga and fitness lessons on YouTube (or Zoom), or advice on personal development from a psychologist on Instagram, motivational videos on Facebook, recipes from sites like GialloZafferano and style or make-up tips from a fashion blogger. This is training content (even though it isn’t always connected to the professional sphere) which is extremely simple, well-constructed and “digestible”.

The effect of the consumerisation of User Experience on the way in which training content is accessed can be summarised through the following four keywords:

Microlearning: i.e. the possibility - offered by both content providers and technological platforms - to access training anytime, anywhere: at home, in the office, during commutes or during a break. Not just through short videos, but also podcasts, book summaries, infographics, handbooks, tutorials. “These is brief content, so it is relevant, engaging and easy to use”.

Snackable content: “this is training content that is devised with a focus on brevity and effective communication. Today, in any field, there is a great deal of competition when it comes to getting people’s attention. We are all constantly distracted by a myriad of stimuli. eLearning is no different and it is competing for a precious share of our attention. That’s why it’s important to create content that is “pop”, which stimulates people’s imagination through the use of visual communication, storytelling and screenplay techniques. The most innovative eLearning projects have training content that is inspired by popular formats like memes, gifs, minivideos and cards”.

Self-learning: i.e. bespoke training created directly by the user from vast number of sources of online content: TED Talks, Youtube, Instagram and Facebook, blogs, specialist publications, etc. “There are cutting-edge technological solutions that help people organise multiple sources of content and develop genuine self-learning courses. Underpinning these, almost always, are recommendation engines that are very similar to the ones on ecommerce sites. These engines analyse the conduct of every participant and suggest resources to be used based on their interests and passions”.

Gamification: “this has been talked about for years and may no longer even sound fashionable. In reality all modern eLearning platforms have introduced gaming features within their learning experience (rankings based on points, challenges and contests, badges and certificates). However, some eLearning platforms and producers of content have started interpreting Gamification more broadly, by taking inspiration from the consumer world and we are starting to see eLearning initiatives applying the concept of seriality, which has been borrowed from TV series on channels like Netflix. The concept of challenges has also been borrowed from videogames like Pokemon Go and we might see cooperation between users like in Fortnite Save The World. In some cases, there is even experimentation with virtual reality technology, which is particularly effective for training with a high experiential component, such as piloting or driving vehicles, maintenance operations and running of industrial machinery”.

After illustrating the trends, the article provides a fairly comprehensive list of the main Italian players in the eLearning market - from providers of content (national and international) to suppliers of Learning Management Systems (LMS), from Open Source to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) platforms, online training portals designed for university or professional distance learning for a large number of users. There is no need to provide the list here (you can find it in the original article) as we don’t want to distract you from the most unique aspect of our offer.

Where has GoodGoing! positioned itself? What are the areas we operate in?

The offer from GoodGoing! stems from the experience of our partners and is an approach which aims to introduce initiatives, starting from concrete and measurable objectives. Our areas of expertise coincide with the six relational areas described by Moovs (see GOODGOING! and MOOVS – Complementary and motivated) that have been strengthened through this partnership. Projects are guided by an initial Quick Assessment to acquire the objectives (if stated) or to express and formalise them through interviews. There follows a first draft that will be refined in a co-design phase with the team comprising members designated by GoodGoing! and the client.

In this phase we will discuss any problems that emerged with the experts at Moovs, with a project that could concern a part or all of the organisation, one or more departments, one or more relational area and one or more geographical area to include one or more training courses, designed by choosing and customising content starting from one of the most extensive training catalogues on the market, and by defining the KPIs that will measure a) the level of understanding of the information that was provided and b) the effect of the improved competencies on the organisation’s performance.

We can use the existing LMS (if applicable), or analyse the reasons this has not been used or has been underused by designing a recovery plan, or propose the addition or integration of one or more modules from the Leaplines suite, in line with the characteristics and trends described in this article.

Aside from our positioning, which is characterised by a pragmatic, original and integrated approach, it is worth pointing out that Moovs has thus far operated mainly in northern European countries (with sporadic experiences in Italy and other countries) where it is very well known, and that its goal was precisely that of expanding its presence to new geographical areas through the partnership whereas, for GoodGoing! the aim was to have training programs, an LMS and a production team for high-quality content to strengthen the deliverability of our offer with an experienced partner. This partnership allows us to satisfy any requirement, since we can access a pool of qualified technical and infrastructural resources and a huge quantity of use cases. We are confident we have yours covered too.

About the author
Stefano Carlo Longo
Stefano Carlo Longo has had a long career as an “innovator” in the ICT sector, in management positions in sales, marketing and consultancy with major international companies, including EY, Atos and Adobe. He is the co-founder of an e-commerce company dedicated to luxury wines and is an investor in a rapidly developing start-up in the Mobile Engagement sector (MobileBridge), which he promotes with customers and partners.

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