Is a good LMS alone enough to make your e-learning a success?

E-Learning Management System [Lur-ning man-ij-muhnt sis-tuh m] magical learning software

1. an assemblage or combination of features that magically trains employees and ensures 100% learning 2. a coordinated body of methods or a scheme or plan of procedure to ensure training completion

I am not sure that is how a dictionary or any site would define an e-learning or an m-learning management system.

Then why do so many organizations today assume that a simple LMS once deployed will be able to get users on board, motivate them throughout the learning, keep reminding them to finish their course, ensure completion and retention of the knowledge and its implementation at work!? And no other change/intervention should have to be made to their existing offline working style. That seems a bit unfair to me!

The organizational culture and various other precautions taken in the offline world along with the LMS together make a training successful. So putting the entire burden of success of a learning program on an LMS might be a bit unreasonable.

How can a mere software take out time for an employee to do the training, or make the course content engaging or motivate the user to use the platform? Factors like these play an important role in the success of an offline/online training and need to be handled at an organizational level.

Here is an attempt to list down the offline factors that one should be aware of while deploying any online learning:

Time constraint: With a workload that demands 10 working hours in a day, and personal commitments, no one and I mean no one would willingly sit through any training program – offline or online.

Solution: This problem can be sorted by a top down approach. Why should employees prioritize the course if the management does not? The management of your organization should be held accountable for the course completion of the employees. For example, Dell Computer managers get a personal e-mail from their CEO Michael Dell if the online course completion rate in their divisions isn’t 100%. Managers should be clear about the reasons why a course is important and build time in to every employee’s schedule for necessary training.

 

Lack of Motivation: After years of studying in school and college – employees might not be so enthusiastic about having to learn again at their job. Reason being that they do not understand the impact of such a training in their real life. Just the way, how most of us could never understand the use of integration (taught in mathematics) in real life.

Solution: A LOT could be done here:

1. Give them a flavor of real world: Knowledge for knowledge’s sake may work for the academically minded in your organization, but others need something more tangible to stay motivated. Employees should be able to see the benefits of the training. The best way to achieve that is to integrate simulations, role-play activities, or e-learning scenarios that put their knowledge to use, without having to face real-world consequences.

When they have to make a choice or carry out a task on their own (virtually) they learn about the repercussions of that decision. They get to see their mistakes, first hand, so that they can remedy them before stepping out into the working environment. This motivates them to learn, because they understand that it is an opportunity to master a skill or task and to boost their job performance.

2. Making it social and fun: Pitting team against team (geographically or department-wise etc) leads to a spirited sports-like rivalry between teams and lowers drop-out rates. Also encourage your employees to pick up skills that have no direct bearing on their day-to-day jobs. It’s just as important to let employees take up wellness initiatives, creative endeavors, and community-based projects. The point is to show your organization that intellectual development and honing work-specific skills is just one piece of the learning culture they’re a part of.

3. Everyone seeks glory: Financial incentives seem to work best for people taking their first online course. On finishing one, the chances of them returning for the second is slightly higher. The organization can always provide a certificate appreciating / rewarding an individual. Better career prospects, personal fulfillment, more bankability are things each individual desires. Rewards do not have to be a gold plated coin or something, you could simply team up with the local theater or sports franchise to offer tickets to successful applicants.

 

Engaging content: The most underrated and, by far, the most important thing in this entire e-learning bit is the CONTENT. CONTENT IS THE KING. Any world class LMS will fail without good content. More often than not, the complaint one gets is that it is boring or not engaging/interactive enough.

Solution: You’ll need to objectively examine the course. You’ll need to examine employees’ learning preferences based on level/demographics in order to create a program that works for them. If there is a preference for more offline components than online, you may wish to look into a blended learning program so that your staff can get the most out of their training program.

Let me take an example of Bearing Point – a consultancy firm. They decided to bring the drama of job life to their training. They made episodes dealing with touchy areas such as bosses hitting on subordinates, teams misrepresenting their expertise, and managers trying to pass along inappropriate expenses to the client. In other words, comedy gold.

Result – the training was a sensation. People started logging in just to see and wait for the next set of training. Here is a glimpse of the same.

Concentrating on these offline elements is the biggest and the only way to improve completion rates and keep the employees excited about training in general. Online solutions like LMS do help in execution, but ultimately, to improve completions and for better retention, one needs to bring about a change in the company culture itself.

To learn more about how you can create online training that not only gets results but gets completed, you can get in touch with me here.

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