Technology-aided learning can be utilized for Extended Enterprise Learning, providing training to the learners outside of your organization. The training could be targeted at dealers, channel distribution partners, suppliers, resellers, franchisees, and even end-customers.
Providing training outside the organization is an important strategic tool to help your organization grow its business and increase profitability. Here are some ways to make sure that an extended learning program is successful, keeping in mind the needs of the modern corporate learners.
• To begin with, it is important to define learning goals and decide your target audience for the extended learning program. It is best to conduct a small research within the target group, to figure out the type of learning program with the highest potential business impact and relatively easier implementation.
• Modern learners are now adept at using hand-held devices. By creating a multi-device learning delivery, training can be made available across multiple devices, and provide more learning opportunities. Also, since the modern learners are continually working with mobile devices, the multi-device access is aligned to their preferences. This helps the learning initiative gain instant appeal for the learner group.
• Once the target audience is decided, setting up a small trial is a good way to ascertain that the learning program is aligned to the needs of the audience. This can be straightforward, especially if there is, in place, a pan enterprise Learning Management System (LMS). Within the organizational LMS, there can be different sections that deliver online training for resellers or channel partners, suppliers and customers, in addition to the internal organizational employees.
• It is important to market the new extended learning program. Some of the learners can be reached through regular calls or email. Benefits of continued learning from the extended learning portal, and activities like skill contests can be marketed well throughout the partner network through mailers and brochures, giving details of attractive prizes for the winners.
• When developing the content, it is important to make sure that it is relevant and tailor-made to the learners’ requirement. A variety of relevant courses can be added onto the portal and the courses can be assigned as per the job profile of the learner, this provides customized learning. The learners are able to make better use of the knowledge and apply it to better their work.
• Most learners are not opposed to the idea of learning at the workplace, but often find it difficult to manage it with the existing work commitments. The extended learning portal can be equipped to send automatic text messages to the users’ phone when they first register on the system. A text message can also be sent every time after a classroom session has been confirmed for the learner. These instant reminders help the learners to keep a better track of the learning events.
• To provide excitement and energy to the training initiative, the online contests can heighten a sense of competition between learners or learner groups. Competency assessment tests can be uploaded onto the system on a regular basis, and executives, as well as, managers can take these tests. Multiple round between different groups of learners can be run and the contest winners be awarded attractive prizes, which provides an additional incentive for continual learning and a thirst for increased competency.
• Added assessment information like classroom assignments, as well as, other offline assignments can be uploaded on the extended learning portal to create a cumulative picture of the learners’ progress and true competence.
• For all assessments, the learner can be allowed to re-take tests to re-enforce the learning as per need. The portal can display the best score, which helps the learner set target for himself, and proceed accordingly.
• With all the learner information available, customized reports can be created to provide accountability for the training initiatives and the stakeholders could ascertain the learner’s progress. Findings from certain reports are displayed on the learner’s or admin interface for better utilization. It provides the required encouragement for the leaners.. High performers can be suitably awarded, while further encouraging those lagging behind.
• Extended learning program increases the overall satisfaction of the external partners. They become better connected to the organization with access to the latest learning content. They can apprise themselves on newer products and schemes, for their prospective clients. This increases work satisfaction and provides better sales figures.
The greatest benefit of an extended learning program is that organizations are able to understand and manage available external manpower better. They are able to ascertain the number of trained manpower at all times — helping them create attainable targets and achieve them as well. It is easier for them to align their training efforts as per the needs of the external partner — motivating excellent performers with suitable incentives and creating re-enforcements for the underperformers.