2020 was a year like no other, with the coronavirus pandemic making the LMS an essential solution to companies around the world. Things have been tremendously difficult, and while vaccine development offers some light at the end of the tunnel, it’s unlikely we’ll be returning to ‘normal’ anytime soon. It’s likely that COVID-19 has changed the way we do many things forever, particularly in the workplace and business practices.
Hopefully, one day, we’ll be hugging our friends and family again without a second thought, but going back to a 9-5, five days a week in the office? Perhaps not. Throughout this gruelling last year and a bit, many companies worldwide have changed to stay afloat. Recovery and future successes in 2021 depend on an adaptive response, and as we look toward the future, we’d like to suggest some ways to build back better, and guess what? Your Learning Management System is a crucial tool to do this.
Prioritising Employee Skills
In 2020 and the beginning of 2021, we saw a rapid shift to remote working in a bid to keep employees safe. This necessitated an increase in the use of digital technology. Off the back of this came the recognition of the immense value of employees with a variety of interpersonal and technical skills. Overall, businesses with skilled, creative and flexible employees have made it through the last year okay, but these workforce attributes aren’t necessarily latent, ready to spring into action during challenging times. Skilled employees need to be nurtured through a company-wide culture of learning. So when planning a solid recovery strategy in uncertain times, upskilling your teams needs to be at the top of the agenda.
Tricky Timing For L&D Budgets
Yet, this urgent need for training, supporting and bringing your employees together couldn’t have come at a more difficult time. With reduced revenues, Learning and Development plans tend to get shelved as the immediate cost of traditional training – the conferences, speaker fees and reference material printing, for example, do seem extravagant on the face of things. This is where you can and should lean on the digital option: your Learning Management System.
New Skills and Social Engagement via LMS
An LMS offers a range of features to provide your employees with engaging courses to add new skills to their cv’s and their work practices and bring people together through social learning – even when they’re working from home. This second point is critical in keeping your people working together smoothly as a team and your business plans for the future on the right path.
Determining Learning Goals for 2021
But what learning goals are you going to set to future-proof your business? Your Learning Management System isn’t just a tool to roll out courses; it can also help you identify where your strengths and weaknesses lie. A great LMS will offer multiple ways to drill down into key data on a dashboard, allowing you to clearly see where your online learners have successfully completed training and which areas you might need to allocate a bit more budget or further resources. An LMS helps you focus your upskilling in the right places.
Identify Learning Preferences via LMS
E-learning software also and offers insights into other useful things too. Take individual learner preferences, for example. Your online learning software can tell you at a glance whether someone completes their training faster or with better results when delivered in a particular format. If you can pinpoint which skills your people need to acquire and how they might prefer to learn them, then the whole training process becomes much more effective, targeted and therefore efficient.
eLearning Trends for 2021
Moving forward, it’s a given that training staff will be essential to future successes, and the most effective way to do that is to roll out learning that can be tracked and interpreted with LMS software. But some new trends are emerging in e-learning for 2021, and you’ll want to capitalise on these to ensure your online training as attractive and relevant as possible.
Offer Virtual Classroom Experiences
Socially, many of us quickly got accustomed to apps like Zoom over the last year. Live video helped us stay connected to friends or with colleagues working from home. When it comes to online learning, recreating a classroom environment as part of a course is a reliable way to provide a familiar experience to learners, which can help them stay on track with their training. Your LMS should allow administrators and SME’s (Subject Matter Experts) to share course materials or live documents, integrate video and post assignments as part of this. Virtual classroom environments can truly boost collaboration on a collective project and encourage attendance when folks need a little more support.
There’s been a notable shift in 2021 toward eLearning via mobile or tablet compatible courses, and your LMS should be able to help you create these with ease. Sort of at the other end of the spectrum to virtual classroom learning, online training that can be completed on a phone allows employees to choose when they work through modules and course material independently. This flexibility is super convenient for solo-style learners and opens up the avenues for microlearning – another online training trend for 2021.
Microlearning is a stimulating way to offer short courses to staff. Essentially, quick, easily digestible mini-modules that can be done and dusted within a short space of time are a great way to introduce a new topic or refresh skills that might be a little rusty. Microlearning is satisfying to finish and often quite fun to work through, stimulating uptake and interest in eLearning. It’s a great way to get your people started on their online training journey and has the bonus effect of helping those with a short attention span or a heavy daily workload.
The Benefits of Gamification
Speaking of fun, your LMS should also be offering you gamification features too – in both a classroom or via mobile app. Game-like elements can take the form of badges or points to win, creating a sense of achievement for students. With gamification software, you can foster a bit of healthy competition between teams on a leaderboard over a series of units or award prizes for levels completed to individuals. Great graphics and images also fall under the umbrella of gamification, and in this day and age, your LMS should offer you a way to make these really good. The more attractive something looks (custom company colours, video, or animation, for instance), the more likely you’ll see strong course uptake among your students.
What Course Authoring Tools Do I Need?
Next up, let’s talk about the importance of excellent course authoring tools within LMS’s this year. When devising your company’s learning goals for 2021, you’ll likely need to create some fresh digital course content, and you’ll need robust LMS authoring tools to do it. Leaps and bounds have been made over the past year in this sector, allowing you to develop courses that bring interactivity to courses, offer different quiz formats or simulate workplace scenarios that help your learners practice new skills.
You might find you already have a quantity of important course material you’d like learners to work through, but the presentation might be a bit old hat. Most LMS’s now allow you to repurpose and convert online content such as PowerPoint presentations into more 2021-friendly formats such as mobile compatible modules, and boost them with extras such as mini-games, click box quizzes, or video clips.
Encouraging Social Learning
Social learning is another buzzword for the eLearning industry at the moment, and real-time discussion boards, forums, or chatrooms are avenues for your students to communicate – all features your LMS can offer. The online training process will inevitably stimulate questions from students at some point, and it’s essential to open up the lines of communication to support them.
In its more traditional form, upskilling at work is often done by watching a more experienced staff member perform a task. In the realm of online training, you could find that learners work together to help each other if you ensure your LMS offers social learning opportunities. Real-time communication tools and social media linked to corporate learning modules are all a part of this strategy.
File Sharing and Course Content Creation
Also, sharing needn’t be reserved just for learner feedback with an excellent LMS. Make the most of the cloud storage and file-sharing functionality that your e-learning software likely offers you. You can create an online library of material such as manuals and handbooks accessible to all, 24/7, or specific course material for those in certain roles. File sharing services can assist in building substantial teaching resources too.
For example, say a student posts a question about a topic in an LMS forum. In response, a classmate posts a two-minute video succinctly explaining the issue. That great content doesn’t need to get lost; you can utilise your LMS to save, share and disseminate that to more students and add it to your course content if you need to.
All in all, for a strong 2021 recovery, investment in your workforce’s skill is your best bet. By leveraging your Learning Management System and hopping on board with the latest trends in online education, you should be able to offer learners the most engaging and valuable learning experiences possible.
The road ahead may still be a little uncertain, but by analysing your company strengths and weaknesses and then rolling out an eLearning plan, you’ll have a cost-effective roadmap to adaptability.