What pushed online learning to go mainstream – Explained – The Financial Express

The adoption rate of e-learning has considerably increased in the corporate world over the years. Geographically distributed teams, cost of providing face to face learning, importance of standardisation and quality in the learning content and the need for anytime learning have been some key reasons for elearning to go mainstream.

Yet, the debate around realisation of ROI from elearning and the effectiveness of online medium for talent development continues. The last decade has witnessed the emergence of MOOCs, edX and other such university centred e-learning initiatives as well corporate training initiatives such as Sklllsoft, Udemy and others.

Despite the huge draw of subscribers their courses have been receiving, the recent study of MIT indicates that the course completion rate is as low as 5-7% only. Several attempts are being made to enhance the course completion rate through initiatives such as making it mandatory for reasons of regulatory requirements or career advancement, building alliances with universities for co-branded programmes or certification and setting up processes leading to qualifications that have industry-wide recognition. At the same time, it is important to recognise that course completion rate by itself cannot be the key metric to determine the competency development of learners and there are other methods and metrics which have emerged.

Increasingly, the new generation workforce prefers ‘just in time’ learning to support their work demands in place of ‘just in case learning.’ This is why designing of the course requires granular attention. It is recommended that the course is made up of simulations, immersive learning through VR and AR and short videos interspersed by quizzes to help summarise learnings.

Even when all these elements are packaged as part of the course, learners should be nudged with attention grabbing short videos, celebrate interim enhancements through town hall interactions and encouragement to share what has been learnt. With digital learning platforms such as Skills Alpha, learning is designed to be multidimensional thus integrating with online courses, elements such as coaching, on-the-job training, peer reviews, customer feedback and knowledge sharing by learners.

Therefore, the new metrics for learning in the digital context include the response rate to nudge mechanisms, karma points earned through participation in answering queries of colleagues, sharing best practices or new knowledge bytes and proof of enhan-ced responsibility, performance on the job or assuming new roles soon after exposure to new subjects through online learning.

It would be feasible to establish the real ROI from the time and money invested in online learning for the organisation and the individual when there is alignment of individual aspirations with organisation goals and opportunities. With the recognition that in order to keep pace with the digital disruptions taking place in the business and society, ongoing skill development would be critical, L&D initiatives are getting more and more centred around the business dynamics. Therefore there is a need to move away from prescribing preset content and curriculum to providing customised learning journeys along with curated content pathways. In order to make the learning journey effective, ongoing and indepth analytics would be essential on parameters such as patterns of content consumption, learning styles, voluntary vs enforced learning, effectiveness of various channels of learning and the desired versus available skills inventory.

While digital technologies and the access to myriad types of content enable HR managers to shape their learning processes in tune with their business needs, reducing the overall L&D cost per employee and ensuring higher employee productivity, retention and motivation would be the primary drivers for talent transformation process.

(The writer is chairperson, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company)

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