Learning & Development (L&D) has become one of the most important elements of the HR industry in recent years. More and more companies realize the long-term benefits of investing in a training solution to support organizational goals and help employees become more capable, better-rounded professionals. While L&D is hardly new, over the years it has largely consisted of mandated compliance or certification courses and exams. However, the advances in new learning technologies over the last decade have made it possible to create more personalized, engaging, and assessable learning experiences for employees. In order to get the most out of your L&D initiatives, consider the ways you can optimize the learner experience to provide more impactful and successful courses.
Evaluating Your Learning Ecosystem to Enhance Learner Experience
When it comes to the learner experience, optimization is an ongoing process. So although you may be able to see some promising trends after a few functionality changes to your Learning Management System (LMS), you likely won’t see the results you’re looking for without continual evaluation and refinement of your learning programs. To start, take an approach that puts you in the position of the learner. Does your platform provide a Single Sign On (SSO) integration that makes it easy to login to the platform? Is your site easy for users to navigate? Can learners find recommended, required, or completed courses, personal achievements like certifications or badges, and additional learning or company resources?
By conducting an extensive evaluation of your organization’s learning ecosystem, you can often identify opportunities to streamline the employee learning lifecycle and more easily provide dynamic resources and training solutions for your learners. If you’re not already, it’s important to be able to leverage data and analytics within your LMS in order to collect information about the success of your learning program. Different reports can be pulled to help you identify which courses, resources, and learning plans are being engaged with and, just as importantly, which pieces of your learning strategy aren’t quite hitting the mark. This data will give you the feedback you need when making decisions about what to change and what to reuse in future training sessions. By understanding the learning habits and needs of your employees, and which available tools might help improve not only the training experience for them but help support the success of your L&D initiatives overall, you can more efficiently recognize and implement ways to increase learner participation.
Learning Technologies and Tools
A recent survey by the HR Research Institute reported that 84% of all companies use at least one form of learning technology. Of these, the vast majority used face-to-face learning in structured environments like classrooms to deliver much of their content. Almost two-thirds used a Learning Management System, with strong overlap between the groups. This shows the widespread adoption of eLearning tools in the workplace. Half of the companies that confirmed the use of a learning technology had developed a dedicated learning portal to their L&D, providing a central hub for organizing different learning tools and tracking participation.
While face-to-face instruction is still quite popular, most companies that offer it do so alongside online options or a blended experience that supplements those classroom experiences with online lessons and resources. This helps learners in a few distinct ways by:
- Providing options for learners whose schedules make face-to-face learning outside of work hours difficult.
- Allowing employees to study and progress through course materials at their own pace.
- Giving HR a framework for information collection and assessment that is easy to track and analyze.
- Setting up systems for learners with different learning styles and needs, so there are options for everyone.
For companies looking to optimize the learner experience, the adoption of a highly flexible and interoperable open-source LMS has proven quite valuable in creating sustainable, dynamic training programs. With the ability to easily connect additional third-party tools or implement expert hosting services or support, you can incorporate your industry’s leading learning initiatives and best practices for a best-of-breed training solution that includes at least some of these valuable components:
- Extensive learner and course reporting
- Social connectivity and opportunities for collaboration
- Rich digital content including video and audio functionality
- Microlearning and Competency-Based Education strategies
- Mobile functionality
- Curated content that reflects the needs of employees at the hierarchical level
- Simulations and virtual or augmented reality
Organizations that currently have an LMS or learning portal but do not yet take full advantage of it to provide diverse learning experiences for learners can get more participation by adopting more strategies and tools that focus on engagement and building them into a robust set of course modules and feedback activities. That brings us to the next important element: learner assessment and what to do with the information gained from it.
Improving Assessment Insights with an LMS
When it comes to assessing the quality of learning and outcomes for individual learners, the news from the H.R. Institute survey report is a bit mixed. Only 10% of all responding participants felt their engagement metrics were up to the job of tracking successes and helping them identify areas of improvement. For experience metrics, the number only rises to 13%, and for success, 14%. That’s a big issue because it points to an overall lack of confidence in the structures set up to measure and track successful learning.
There is a silver lining, though. The upside to the findings in this area is that around two-thirds of all responding participants felt they were successful in each of these areas; they just indicated a lack of ability to track that success and pinpoint areas for further improvement.
Being unable to confirm your feelings about the direction and effectiveness of a learning program is a problem regardless of how positive those feelings are. Working without hard data can lead to scrapping important elements that work well for learners, while possibly introducing ineffective alternatives. Flying blind like this also means missing out on the ability to identify exactly where in the process the tools break down for those who have a less satisfying experience, which doesn’t help you identify any actual problems or shortcomings.
Luckily, most of today’s LMS options are able to track user data like individual module progress and daily activity at a granular level, providing both the instructor and the student with insights that can help them be more successful. This data is gathered through system interaction as well as assessment activities, and the combination of the two allow for the automatic tracking of important metrics, without the need to sit down and manually crunch the data to get answers. Further, forums and discussion groups can easily be arranged in an online setting, allowing you to receive feedback directly from learners within the course. If you’re looking to improve the learner experience, it’s imperative to ask your learners for their feedback. This is one easy way to streamline that.
Setting up an LMS that puts the learner experience first and provides active feedback based on participation and progress means streamlining the metrics you need and reducing work for everyone while producing incredibly useful work product for your LX design team.
Prepare Your Learning Platform for the Future
Learning technologies are ever-evolving, but there are clear trends that can help you identify areas you should be prepared to improve upon and strategies you should embrace as they become accessible. Just a few years ago, those trends were toward multimodal learning that embraced many different learning styles, asynchronous options for learners who require them, interoperability with plug-ins and outside media, and more diverse training opportunities. Now, those approaches and tools are commonplace and found in most LMS platforms. Today’s (and emerging) trends are just as important to the continued evolution of your L&D team’s tool set, though, and are just as likely to become standard features of LX design in the future.
Some of the common themes and important practices we continue to see in the digital L&D industry include:
- Increased integration in the learner experience, tying multiple training subjects, resources, and tools together to create a more accessible system for building knowledge and developing professionally.
- Increased personalization and curation, leading to more individualized learning experiences that fit the needs of learners in different roles throughout your organization.
- Developmental approaches that measure learner knowledge and success, using defined factors or AI to serve relevant content that is designed to help build long-term organizational and study skills across the board, regardless of learner role.
- Design approaches that favor higher levels of engagement and direct participation and less passive learning.
- More and better metrics to track the success of individual and program goals and learner outcomes
Of the responding parties in this year’s H.R. Institute report, 71% say that learner experience will become more important to the direction of LMS development over the next few years. This is unsurprising since engaging learners and keeping them participating is strongly linked to success outcomes for those learners across educational styles and formats. It’s an intuitive truth as well as one that can be easily tracked with the right metrics. When people feel engaged in a positive experience during learning activities, they simply learn better. That’s the goal your organization needs to shoot for as you plan the next round of changes to the learning experience that your LMS provides.
eThink can help with expert support and setup services, build consulting, and more. Discover how our team can help optimize the learning experience for participants in your L&D initiatives today.
Want to learn more from HR.com’s Institute Report? Click to view the most important stats info from their Learner Experience Engagement & Solutions in 2020 Event, or contact us for more information.