11 steps to e-learning success

David Birchall, director of Learning & Teaching Services at Henley
Management School, provides a checklist for a successful e-learning programme

Understand what the business needs

where your company is trying to go and the main drivers behind the business and
prioritise your training needs. E-learning is no different, in that respect,
from any other training intervention.

Assess the technology requirements

if you have the technology platform you need to deliver the programme, or if
you have to influence the IT department to get the investment you want.

Select a supplier

if you want to bring in outside suppliers to set up the programme, or handle it
internally. Many companies do seek quotations from suppliers, but then decide
to use internal resources because it is more cost-effective and can often
deliver a programme more appropriate to their needs.

Keep the design simple

be seduced by glitzy designs that can get in the way of learning. Complex
design may not be appropriate for the learner, and the learner has to be the
starting point. The programme may also need to be tweaked or updated on an
ongoing basis, and complicated design can get in the way of that.

Standardise the method of delivery

of supply and delivery could be an issue among larger or global companies. A
lot of companies are not in a position to have a programme delivered across one
platform because their IT structure is not integrated. Some will consider using
the internet, but that is really just a tool to deliver information. Learning
is more dependent on interactivity ­– linking people and their supporting

Provide technology training

readiness of people to use the technology is a significant factor in the
success of e-learning programmes. If people are technology-literate they will
be able to access and use the programme easily, but if there is low or patchy
literacy, there could be problems.

Motivate the learners

is vital. Individuals need to see what is in it for them, that it will have a
positive impact on their career and not just on the business. The benefits of
e-learning need to be clearly communicated, particularly if individuals have
previously been sent on residential courses. However, try to avoid glamourising
or over-selling the benefits.

Incentivise the programme

and support individuals undertaking the programmes. Ensure that individuals
realise they have to motivate themselves, but support that with a mentoring
system or a local support framework. Controlling delivery from a call centre in
India probably won’t do.

Create the right culture

company culture needs to be supportive of individual learning programmes.
Individuals need to know their managers will support them when they are putting
time into e-learning. Some companies might want to allocate time to staff for
e-learning, especially where people are having to keep abreast of fast-changing
products or technologies.

Assign departmental responsibility

department needs to be in charge of the programme and that department will vary
from company to company. The training and development department might be
responsible for updates to the programme, but you also need a function taking
responsibility for the whole e-learning programme – modifying, updating,
getting feedback, and so on. HR’s role will be to champion e-learning and
ensure it supports the company’s strategic goals.

Evaluate the programme

is important that people understand the overall objectives of the programme
from the outset and that metrics to measure its success are agreed. For
example, look at what impact e-learning has it had on people – are they more
effective, doing their job better, selling more, or bringing in more new
customers? Evaluation will show you where the training needs to be improved,
and if the company is getting value for money.

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