After a while, it’s easy to discover that business training needs are somehow repetitive and could be categorized. It came so naturally that we didn’t realize when we started to recognize these specific elements and adjust our design process to suit the client’s needs.
In the e-learning community we know our job is important — it is crucial for the company to be well-functioning, with employees developing their knowledge and skills. When the onboarding process runs smoothly and a company’s training program is even considered a benefit to be offered when hiring new employees. It was created to make life easier, to learn quicker and in a more efficient way. It’s fascinating, positive and engaging. That’s the creator’s perspective.
There are great books and articles, teaching technicalities and introducing the changes in this trade. However, it may be refreshing to go back there and add some new elements. This business is changing together with every other business that is looking for e-learning solutions.
In the ELearning Industry page, we can find the article that describes 4 types of e-learning. It’s focused on the business approach.
We are talking now about a specific, but major part of e-learning: corporate e-learning. And it’s specific in many ways, like it’s audience, budget or tools, a need for business justification. Goal of every e-learning product is to have an effect on user. In companies there is so much happening before even starting the creation process. Sometimes even professionals will find themselves following patterns, and that could be done brilliantly, but maybe there is something more to it?
There are 4 types of corporate/business e-learning:
- Product training
- Tool training
- Knowledge training
- Skills training
- Product training
Product training is a must-have for companies that produce products — those could be sponges or dishes, but it could be also elevator switches or IT equipment. Whatever that is, at some point, a new employee will have to gain an overall or specific knowledge about this product. It could be a product overview for every new employee as a part of onboarding process, or a high-specialized training for fitters. It could introduce a new product line for employees or even customers.
Characteristics: those courses should consist of product pictures with data about its specifications. The quality of the pictures is very important. If the training contains instructions, those should be clear, interesting, and don’t bring unnecessary and distracting visual elements.
There are few types of audiences for product training:
New employees — a brief introduction to company’s products, could have more interactive parts, should not be overloaded with technical details;
For current employees after introducing a new product/ product line — same as above, a quick, brief attractive e-learning;
For fitters, mechanics, specialists — detailed and high quality pictures, everything should be in the concrete order. The technical details are more important than attractive visual elements and interactions, although those elements could be in the background. Some companies are exploring the new technologies especially for this target group — VR or AR is a great e-learning if you can invest in 3D model of a machine to let the employees have hands-on experience even without a real machine close by;
For salesman and clients e-learning is a new way to present your offer. Compatible with mobile devices, so it could be shown quickly or checked easily without an access to the computer. Visually attractive brief that could be sent to a client before or after the meeting. It could be also a knowledge-refresher for company salesman in his/her way to a meeting.
Tool training is to explain how to use an application — a software, generally. It’s a very popular and necessary e-learning type in companies using multiple different platforms by every employee. E-learning makes it possible to introduce people to the most important functionalities. Sometimes the training must be completed before getting access to the application.
Here we can introduce very interesting solutions:
- Video-tutorials, that are very popular in daily life, and because of that — familiar and user-friendly.
- Sandbox, created from screenshots and recordings of the real application, where users may practice the steps without making any changes to the actual system. There is a lot to play with — instructions, hints, step-by-step tutorials.
- Step-by-step instructions, that might be, don’t have to be, a part of the e-learning module.
Are skills and knowledge training sound very similar, aren’t they? There is a subtle difference — Knowledge training is in most cases a mandatory pill of knowledge and may be hard to swallow. There is some important information to gain and it has to be remembered and adopted. There shouldn’t be too many interactive elements, the main focus is to distribute facts in a visually appealing, but not distractive way. There has to be agenda, probably there has to be a test or a quiz at the end, so our job is to make it as easy to digest as we can. The best way to make it friendly is not to throw there a bunch of clickable elements, animations or interactions. Making it friendly could be done outside the e-learning module e.g. by some rewards program. HR or just decision-makers should show the employee that this is really necessary, useful and actually makes sense, and that managers and team leaders pay attention to certificates that employee collects over the years.
Without thinking about the bigger picture even the most beautifully created e-learning would fail its goal, because the user’s attitude to the training is crucial, same as how it is delivered to the student.
The more pleasant appeal have Skills Trainings. Those are created to teach new competencies, people are doing them for themselves, it’s not mandatory, it’s self-paced, and is rewarded by the new experience. In the long run, it could be rewarded also by a chance of promotion, or change in a job profile. Those are things that drive some employees and that is a great benefit you could give them. It also, the same as with the Knowledge Training, should be rewarded or encouraged. Sometimes those e-learning training courses are part of a bigger training program, sometimes those are just singular modules uploaded to LMS, free to take.
E-learning is still under development and that will never change. New tools and technologies let us play with options and discover new roads.
There is one certain thing: we should always think about the bigger picture. The best e-learning serves many entities and never should be considered as a necessary evil.
Oh, if you need our help— go and check the TTMS team!
E-learning Development Team Leader at TTMS