With ever-changing technologies, new techniques and new strategies continuously surfacing, e-learning and training are consistently growing and are full of new possibilities and potential for organizations.
As new developments for e-learning quickly move forward, they promise some very exciting capabilities for online training and information exchange. Many organizations are implementing a few key trends for their training programs that provide a popular topic of discussion in the e-learning community: mobile apps, gamification, social collaboration and bite-size e-learning.
Mobile is everywhere. Literally. The devices that are with us at all times are the talk of the town. It seems every industry wants to get a handle on how to leverage mobile – and the training industry is no exception. Because devices like smartphones and tablets are carried at all times, they provide convenient, direct access to valuable resources including learning material.
Mobile delivery makes it easy for employees to access just-in-time training, performance support, checklists and more at the most convenient times for them. This could be while waiting for an appointment, during lunch or any other time an employee is on-the-go. This type of functionality, convenience and ease of use is exactly what makes mobile technologies unique and powerful for online training.
While organizations can create e-learning and training content viewable on smartphones and tablets via Web browsers on mobile devices, many deliver mobile learning content using native mobile applications including text, video, quizzes, etc. These apps can wrap up all e-learning content in a course into a streamlined, user-friendly application with an intuitive interface that makes navigation and course exploration very simple.
Mobile applications can work with SCORM, gesture-based design, and audio and video that work across all devices. One additional benefit of a mobile app is that once employees have the app on their device, training content is always accessible and can track progress – whether online or offline.
The term “gamification” has received a lot of traction in the e-learning and training community. Some learning professionals imply that gamification means simply utilizing games in courses, but others note that it does not mean strictly using actual games, but rather “gaming mechanics,” according to Scott Lake from the Brandon Hall Group. Gamification “plays” on our innate desire to compete and win by including game-like characteristics as a way to enhance training and motivate employee participation.
Training developers can employ different gaming techniques to fit their particular topic or course. When employees participate, they can receive rewards such as points and badges as well as showcase achievements with devices like leaderboards to highlight active learners and show their performance and progress. This can motivate their peers to “take the lead” and achieve the highest score or most points. In addition, learners can see the leaders as a knowledgeable resource for guidance and questions, making the process social.
The term “social” continues to create buzz in 2012. Organizations are turning to social for recruitment, to gauge employee morale, for social learning, performance and career management. The rise of social provides an open environment with opportunities for communication and collaboration. With social integration, information is much more accessible for employees and it is very easy to share and exchange specialized knowledge and resources.
Social makes it extremely easy to tap into knowledge from all different levels and areas of an organization. Employees can easily see who possesses certain knowledge and special skills while providing a gateway to these valuable resources in a very simple way.
With this flow of communication and information, social makes it easy for employees to collaborate with experts to find solutions for problems and leverage those with specialized skills to maximize efficiency, productivity and performance. Opening up these lines of communication and making dynamic connections among employees can spark innovation and new ideas.
According to Bersin & Associates, “In 2012, if you do not have a social learning strategy, you will fall behind.” When social interactivity is part of an organization, employees have much more opportunity to engage on a deep level, which can improve employee morale and motivation, which ultimately benefits the company. Organizations are seeing the value in social initiatives and are leveraging these capabilities to enhance training in their organizations and to achieve better results as a whole.
In this “information now” era where access to information is conveniently at our fingertips at any given time, learners do not typically want to delve into text-heavy or time-consuming e-learning content; Learners want quick, bite-size pieces of information. It is much easier to progress through a course in smaller chunks and much easier to retain information when we can process and reflect on information in small sections.
Training can include various types of media and components to enhance these small sections including videos, podcasts and quizzes. These activities can support and expand on the course material, provide additional helpful resources and provide a way to break up content and engage learners aside from text alone.
A bite-sized course structure is ideal for mobile delivery, as many learners access information while waiting for an appointment, while on a break or in other short spurts of time. The convenience of mobile coupled with smaller pieces of learning material provides an opportunity for quick access to important job materials, especially if the employee is not stationed at a desk at all times.
The trend toward mobile applications, gamification, social collaboration and bite-size e-learning indicates a shift away from traditional, text-heavy courses to a more dynamic, fun learning experience containing fewer limitations and greater opportunities for engagement and participation. This is not to say that traditional training content is out the door; it just means that many organizations are incorporating these trends into their current training.
When organizations apply these new, engaging training techniques and take full advantage of mobile and social capabilities, constraints are lifted, possibilities open and online training has great potential for increased performance and innovation.
Jessica Athey is manager of global marketing for Lectora. As the world's leading e-Learning Software, Lectora is used by most Global 2000 companies in more than 125 countries and is offered in six languages. Jessica holds more than eight years of experience in the e-learning industry and has been published in industry blogs and articles.
Written for TrainingIndustry.com