Workplace learning is often described as Training which is undertaken in the workplace or a simulated work environment which may include structured training, assessment, observation of work practices, case study or other models.
Technology-aided learning is well-established as a way of learning in the workplace, that presents the organization with a new alternative, as well as a new means of solving problems. With increasing popularity comes the obvious question of effectiveness. The effectivity of technology-aided learning in the workplace can be attributed to a number of factors and studying them closely will reveal that e-learning is indeed very effective for the corporate audiences.
The experience of the learners: The first factor to influence the efficacy of technology–based learning is how equipped the learners are to accept the new platform of learning. This is in turn determined by aspects that define the learners. The prime determinant here is how much experience does the learner have with the medium, is he or she computer literate? Do they have the basic knowledge to adopt new technology? If yes, then the new platform will undoubtedly be well accepted by the learner group. But sometimes just being computer literate is not enough. Learners may have pre-conceived bias about new technology that dulls their confidence in own their abilities and can build a barrier for learning efficacy in this case, the learners have to be duly motivated to adopt the new technology for their own benefit. Here are few tips for driving learner motivation, derived from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
1. Prestige – This is a powerful driver for learning – if the perceived value of learning is increased, so will the leaner motivation. This can be achieved in many ways. A popular way is to endorse the learning program by an industry body. Or expert sessions can be held once the training/e-learning bit is over. This can be held in a classroom environment or via Virtual Classroom (VCR)/Phone/Video Conference.
2. Self-esteem – A point system can be worked out for every hour of course completed – with grades for different level of points, rewards for reaching milestones and a special reward for the highest grade in a quarter/year. The rewards could be mementos or even a lunch/interaction with the top bosses.
3. Self-esteem/feeling of accomplishment – For the training endeavor to be successful, the learner should be able to apply knowledge. It is necessary that the learner is encouraged and incentivized to learn more and apply effectively. For instance, the learner can write a short piece, present it to someone, and talk about it in an informal session with the peer group. A certificate and congratulation card could be given to the learner on completion of the course.
4. Monetary Incentives – The learner could get points for course completion, answering queries, etc., and the points could be exchanged for gifts/vouchers.
5. Social needs – E-learning does not have to be completely an isolated activity. The learners can be given ample opportunity to interact – either via phone or VCR. The learners can thus exchange experiences or learning and learn collaboratively.
6. Respect – Respect is often the most coveted aspect of learning. At the end of a training endeavour, the names of the top scorers or achievers can be shared on a common platform like the LMS or the organization intranet.
7. Belongingness – Feedback on performance is very important to boost the morale of learners. Feedback could be related to performance –on how they can improve–and call active learners to check if they are facing any problem or if they have any queries about their course.
8. Legacy – It is important to sustain the learner endeavour for a prolonged period of time so that its full impact can be felt. To extend the effect of learning, we could determine if the learning can be passed on to fellow learners or new inductees.
Change in behaviour due to e-Learning. With the adoption of new technology for learning, e-Learning also alters the behaviour of the learner to a certain extent. Most of the changes in behaviour as a consequence of e-Learning are mainly on the social aspect of learning. While interacting closely in the virtual space for learning, learners become a part of a social environment and a learning community within the workplace. New technologies change the way that corporate learners access information and this can be encouraged by highlighting the success of peers or instructors by using the technologies. Learning technologies also encourage learners to have multiple conversations and this in turn leads to closer collaboration with peers and colleagues.
Organizational impact of e-learning: how well the e-learning initiative is accepted among the learners directly depends on how well the e-Learning strategy is developed by the organisation. The acceptance of change by employees within an organisation is a key factor for e-learning efficacy. An understanding of how e-Learning is adopted in organisations is important and can be achieved through the evaluation of e-Learning strategies. It is evident that changes in the organisational structure where instructors become facilitators and managers become the champions of adopting new technology for learning, can lead to increased interest in online and hence, cost savings. Additionally, flexibility, in terms of how the technology is introduced and the management of learner expectations also have an impact on the adoption of e-Learning. Taking this into account, organizations should offer flexibility in learning through technology and align their training endeavours as per the evolving expectations of the corporate learners.
E-Learning has been increasingly popular in the corporate circles for training and learning. But in the face of this popularity and increasing need for e-learning courseware, there is still the constant challenge of making e-learning truly effective. Aligning training endeavours as per the top factors influencing the effectiveness of technology-aided learning can be a positive step towards gaining maximum ROI and making technology-aided learning a true success.
Source and suggested further reading: 3 Top Factors That Affect eLearning Success