KEY #1

 

No Efficient ROI Without a Smart LMS

To optimize your LMS, you should focus on the following:

Concentrate on data

The LMS is where companies collect and analyze the data that will provide them with the building blocks for ROI. But it can be tough to know up front what data would be useful to collect. Step back and evaluate what you would like to learn about the distance learning programs, and use that list of needs to inform the design of your LMS.

Aim for a dedicated system

Many companies feel ill-equipped to build an LMS on their own, whether out of concern about the cost, manpower, or technical know-how. There are plenty of off-the-shelf learning management systems available to jumpstart e-learning efforts if your company isn’t interested in starting from scratch. But not every size fits all. When considering ready-made options, lean toward those that allow you to tailor systems to your specific corporate and industry needs. Systems should also be capable of adapting over time to match evolutions in your learning.

Design for evaluation

It’s not enough to simply capture raw data about your employees’ e-learning usage. It’s also critical to include surveys and assessments that directly measure employees’ progress and opinions about the programs. With those evaluation measurements in place, companies can continually assess the effectiveness of training programs, identify weak spots, and scale up strengths. Having smart evaluation tools also allows companies to perform small-scale tests on new training programs, gauge their usefulness, and then expand to larger populations within the company.

KEY #2

Match your e-learning environment with your strategic needs

To improve ROI, organizations must first define their business objectives. By isolating the business need, and allowing those needs to drive the design of the learning program, companies are more likely to achieve a positive ROI.

Clarify the business needs
It’s not enough to simply capture raw data about your employees’ e-learning usage. It’s also critical to include surveys and assessments that directly measure employees’ progress and opinions about the programs. With those evaluation measurements in place, companies can continually assess the effectiveness of training programs, identify weak spots, and scale up strengths. Having smart evaluation tools also allows companies to perform small-scale tests on new training programs, gauge their usefulness, and then expand to larger populations within the company.

Clarify performance needs
When business needs are defined, performance needs can be identified that would improve their desired business outcomes. For example, compliance discrepancies (business need) may be increasing because employees are not following the correct procedure (performance needs). Everything driving the e-learning environment should attempt to bridge the gap between those business needs and the performance targets.

Clarify learning needs
After the performance needs are determined, the learning needs are identified.  The learning needs, when met, will close the performance gaps.  For example, if employees are not following a procedure, maybe it is because they do not know how.  That is the e-learning solution.

Determine program objectives
It’s critical to set clear objectives for the program in order to properly judge ROI. Some objectives will be straightforward and explicit: Employees might need to demonstrate proficiency with new software at the end of learning, or complete a specific compliance certification. In those cases, specific mastery goals should be set.

Other objectives may have timeframes beyond the end of the learning program, such as improvements in sales of new products. And others may be more focused on an improvement in engagement, productivity, and motivation. Ideally the e-learning program

KEY #3

Make your content appealing

Big investments in e-learning programs are useless if learners don’t actually use or engage with the content. Moderator-led, in-person training is expensive, but it is often effective because expectations and bonds are forged in the classroom. Technology-based learning, by contrast, may not always be taken seriously, given its convenience, the fact that it is typically done individually, and is often optional.

To maximize ROI, e-learning programs must be designed with the learner in mind. Great care must be taken to attract and hold users’ attention. It’s a delicate line to walk: Designers must not only make big-picture results relevant and apparent to learners (“Why do I need to take this course?”) but also consider the minutiae that might drive them away (such as too many clicks and screens to get to critical information and actions). The move toward increasing gamification should also be considered carefully. While making learning more game-like can make programs more fun, it can also create a disconnect between the learning and a user’s job if the relevance of the game-like training is not made explicitly clear.

In this context, the designer and developer of the e-learning programs are key to improving ROI. In facilitator-led learning, it’s the facilitator who can make the difference. But in distance learning, the role of designer and developer are critical if you want your program to provide a positive pay off.

Design an interface adapted to learners’ needs and expectations
It’s not enough to simply capture raw data about your employees’ e-learning usage. It’s also critical to include surveys and assessments that directly measure employees’ progress and opinions about the programs. With those evaluation measurements in place, companies can continually assess the effectiveness of training programs, identify weak spots, and scale up strengths. Having smart evaluation tools also allows companies to perform small-scale tests on new training programs, gauge their usefulness, and then expand to larger populations within the company.

Keep it logical
Having content arranged and presented logically has a huge effect on whether information is retained by learners. If information is presented logically, participants have a better chance of incorporating it; if it is scattershot or poorly organized, you will lose participants’ attention in no time. You might design an introduction, main section, and evaluation structure, or create a series of abstract information.

Increase visual interest
Humans are visual creatures, and many of us learn concepts best when we visualize them. In order to increase the chances that content is learned and retained, make sure the content is appealing to the eye. Incorporate pictures and videos to attract attention and illustrated ideas. Graphics and animations can also quickly and succinctly convey complex information in easily digested ways. Of course, don’t include graphic elements simply for the sake of having them. The most important thing to make sure the visuals support and enhance the message of the content.

Foster interactions between participants
If possible, create networks, whether on social media or through the LMS, so that participants can share information, questions, success stories, and concerns. Classroom-based learning can create tremendous bonding, commitment, and engagement, which is often lost when learning moves online. Facilitating interactions throughout the learning program can improve users’ dedication and replace the role of the facilitator, creating a virtuous cycle of engagement.

 

KEY #4

Instructional design: stick to learners’ needs and constraints

Improving the ROI for distance learning often means reducing logistic costs, such as those spent on experts and facilitators. But without those experts in the classroom responding to participants’ questions and concerns, program designers must anticipate users’ needs and build responses to them into the learning process. Adult learners want to know why they need to learn something. They also approach learning as problem-solving, and learn best when they believe that the topic is of immediate value.

As a result, designers must create a system that guides learners, rationalizes their time, and uses storytelling to make users truly feel engaged.

Make training and learning relevant to participants’ jobs
The design needs to make it clear from the outset what the complete learning program means to users and why it is relevant to their specific roles. Make sure it is communicated to them or built into the system why they are taking the program in the first place, what the business need is, and how their skills and performance will be enhanced through completion. Connecting completion of the course to the user’s success is critical for optimal ROI.

Show that managers care
With all learning programs, no matter the format, the manager role is critical. Managers often don’t realize they are influential in driving home the importance of learning programs. But even small gestures and statements from managers demonstrating support for learning can make a big difference. Similarly, saying nothing at all sends the message that the learning isn’t of much importance. Showing support from management can be both formal and informal. Managers might make a point of briefly mentioning the importance of learning or asking direct reports about their progress on learning programs.

More formally, designers might build in direct messages and statements of support from executives and managers into the e-learning programs themselves. For instance, a video from the CEO at a key juncture of the training pops up and voices support for the participant’s effort and reiterates how critical the program’s objectives are to the mission of the organization.  This sends a powerful message that the program is important and that the employee’s participation and effort are valued.

 

KEY #5

Explore new opportunities to maximize ROI

In our rapidly changing business environment, skills must often be continuously updated. For companies looking for additional learning opportunities, just-in-time training and adaptive learning are natural complements to more ‘traditional’ e-learning systems. By building on established learning systems, the additional programs can provide more ‘bang for the buck’ by responding to individual training needs.

Just-in-time training

Just-in-time training allows workers to access learning when and where they need it. They can tap self-guided tutorials and other tools at any time to complete tasks and quickly update their skills. The learning is focused on “nuggets” of information that solve problems as they arise, rather than on updating or replacing whole suites of training at once.

The Benefit:

The programs allow employees to receive the learning they need when they need it, rather than sit through learning that might not be relevant or convenient at the time.

Adaptive learning:

This data-driven, personalized learning adapts the presentation of materials according to each learner’s needs, based on that individual’s position, existing skills, prior performance, and goals. The programs are able to tailor to the participant’s specific needs based on accumulated data, which may include information from past courses and responses to surveys, and then anticipate what types of content and resources learners need at a specific juncture in order to make progress.

The Benefit:

The programs can adapt automatically to different skill levels, which often results in faster and more substantive learning as a result of the personalization.

Both tracks can result in more engaged and satisfied employees, boosting companies’ retention capabilities and ROI. Continuing education and professional development have come to be seen as a key workplace benefit in today’s new economy. By complementing traditional e-learning options with just-in-time training and adaptive learning programs, companies create powerful incentives for employees to stay and work for success.

 

Source