Common misconceptions of digital learning
As a quick learning method that is both profitable and flexible, over the past few years, digital learning has made its way into the learning landscape. This trend has also become a real headache for a number of Learning Managers because there is a lot on offer and a wide range of choices available, such as MOOC, SPOC, mobile learning, quizzes and platforms. Training courses are changing in content, format, stakeholders, and requirements.
However, not everything is quite as idyllic as we might think. With the pressure to digitalise content, reduce costs, be more flexible or rejuvenate the image of training courses, Managers are on a wild goose chase to find the perfect solution.
From the learners’ point of view, the bar is also shifting. Lecture-style classroom-formats are over. Just like in their daily work, employees want experimentation, diversity and sharing.
If digital learning sounds inspiring, and for good reason, there are still a few pitfalls that should be pointed out to avoid a backlash. Here is a selection of some risky situations to be aware of:
«Digital will solve all our problems»
Keep your expectations in check. Changing the method will not necessarily change the level of enthusiasm. In other words, the lack of interest in training sessions is not necessarily linked to their conditions. It might stem from a gap between expectations and results, preconceptions, or simply due to lack of availability.
Digitalising training sessions will be beneficial to your employees if their only barrier appears to be a scheduling issue between learners and their tutor.
Companies that want to begin this adventure must perceive digital-learning as an all-important necessity, rather than an option. They must also think about everyone in their audience as some may not be comfortable using digital tools.
Suggested improvement: firstly, matching what employees want with the knowledge transmitted through digital learning is crucial. Next, it is vital to evaluate accessibility and check that no-one will be stigmatised. Lastly, be sure that the colleagues involved are systematically informed when a new training session is available. This can be done by an internal newsletter, email blast or a company magazine. Be where your audience is.
«All that’s left to do is to transform our content into digital modules»
Not all forms of content can be adapted to digital. Whilst several tools exist that can easily improve a PowerPoint presentation or add a voice-over, not all training sessions can be made digital.
Tools may exist but not all classroom teaching can be done online.
Suggested improvement: for a smooth shift to digital, it is important to devise targets, methods and a plan, beforehand. Designing storyboards or getting kitted out with new tools is essential. It is also important to think about the solution’s accessibility. There are a few time-saving templates available. The practical part of the session which includes exercises can also be remodelled.
«Digital will track their effort»
Be wary of being over-zealous. Digital learning shouldn’t become ‘Big Brother’. Whilst digital solutions favour monitoring and follow-ups, a learning platform should not be used as a pressure tactic.
Knowing connection times and their frequency, as well as who is taking part and their success rates is not enough to justify the changes. Moreover, if employees were to find out the extent of digital tracking, you would need to be prepared for a loss of confidence and motivation.
Suggested improvement: if a few statistics seem useful for validating the move to digital, the results must respect privacy. Selecting the right indicators is key but they have to be useful and respectful of employee privacy.
«No more need for classroom-based training»
If digital learning makes it possible to stamp out any frictions between tutors and learners due to timetabling problems, it won’t solve everything. Some training requires a tutor to be present, if only for practical exercises or as part of a team building strategy.
Team training is a special time for employees to progress together. By offering in-person training, where all departments have an opportunity to mix together and share problems, it can often be more beneficial to have physical rather than digital training sessions. When teams get together in person, it can lead to a solid group with strengthened team spirit.
Certain role-playing exercises also require a certain level of performance which can only be achieved off-screen.
Classroom style training also uses much non-verbal communication. As this is a vital part of our everyday conversation, it can be utilised and optimised most when in person.
Suggested improvement: be careful not to digitalise everything. As digital necessarily implies distance, it can also lead to disinterest, disruption between teams and discouragement. The digital solution is, of course, highly beneficial but only in some cases. The secret to success for business resides in aligning targets, methods and metrics. Go ahead and mix tools for blended learning!
Digital learning is bursting with promises. It can save time, resources, finances and increase productivity; when implemented properly, it can be a substantial resource. Whilst solutions on offer are varied, it is up to each company to find the best one for their business. If you want to go down the Training 3.0 road, it would be wise to prioritise the tools and content you want to include, set targets and ensure that all your employees can access them. If they run into problems with scheduling or resources, there are a lot of free platforms available in several languages that can be used. Perhaps this might be the first step on the journey towards a new generation of training.