4 Types of eLearning Solutions to Boost Your Business

For all types of businesses out there—large and small, startups and companies that have existed for generations, customer-facing and technology-based—one fact always remains unchanged: staff training and development is a cornerstone of the company’s success. Traditionally, companies relied heavily on textbooks and instructor-led trainings to deliver the learning content, while more recently eLearning has emerged as a valuable tool for staff education. eLearning is becoming increasingly popular due to the flexibility and savings in both time and dollars it can offer while providing outstanding training outcomes. Recent statistics shows that a good eLearning program can offer knowledge retention rates as high as 25-60%. These are only some of the reasons why more and more companies turn to eLearning to educate their staff. Another interesting trend that’s been noted in the eLearning industry is that companies have begun to offer eLearning to their customers in addition to staff. While staff training focuses on skills and job competencies, customer training can teach users to interact with and take full advantage of the company’s products. Let’s discuss the four types of eLearning solutions a typical company uses to educate its staff and its customers.

Product Knowledge Training

Originally, product knowledge training was mainly aimed at sales people who were required to know the product inside out in order to be able to sell it to the customer. The product knowledge training for sales people focuses on product’s features and benefits, and how these benefits can solve the customers’ needs. While there are many different reasons why a company should offer product knowledge courses to its staff, the main goal of such courses is always to provide relevant information about the company’s products.
More recently, companies have started offering eLearning to their customers in addition to staff, reasoning that proper training will enable a customer to take full advantage of the product, gain maximum satisfaction from using the product, which in turn can ensure referrals and repeat business. This works especially well for complex and technological products that require a certain amount of learning and adjusting to. Most customers agree that the availability of eLearning that supports the end user can positively influence their buying decisions and promote a favorable attitude towards the product.
Whether your company is looking for a product training for staff, customers, or both, it’s always a good idea to invest in eLearning development because it can save you money and provide the results you need.

Software Training

Almost any company out there is using some kind of software in its operations cycle. We rely on software programs to plan work, communicate, keep track of inventories, maintain accounting records, and perform many other tasks. By partnering with an eLearning company to produce courses to teach your staff to use software properly, you can improve the team’s performance, eliminate errors and mistakes, and minimize downtime. Virtually anyone in your office can benefit from software training—from a receptionist using Microsoft Outlook to an architect working in AutoCAD.
What’s really great about online software training programs is that you only need to invest in designing it once, and you can then reuse it as many times as you need for as many staff members as you need. This can take care of the training needs for your current staff as well as the future staff members because you will have the training ready and available for anyone who joins the company in the future. Modern advances in software training allow to mimic various software products while guiding the learner through the tasks, capturing the progress, and providing feedback. This provides significant benefits over the traditional training methods such as manuals with screenshots and classroom trainings.

Compliance Training

Most business owners from time to time have to deal with ensuring that the staff meets the federal, state or local compliance requirements. Compliance training helps staff to understand the legal boundaries within which your organization operates. It provides the legal framework which assists in enhancing the relationship between employees and employers of an organization. Compliance training should be a key priority for your company as it helps meet the legal obligations and standards. Failing to provide adequate compliance training often results in hefty fines and negative public perception in addition to low employee morale and high turnover. As a business owner, it’s in your best interest to provide a good compliance training to your staff. Luckily, with eLearning you are able to design such training once and reuse it multiple times for any number of staff. When the legislation changes, all you need to do is update the areas of the training that are affected by the change, and you can then keep serving the training program to the employees.

Skills and Behavior Training

The success of your business largely depends on your staff’s ability to perform tasks, provide customer service, and manage your company’s operations. It’s very common for employees to have varying levels of skills and knowledge. Typically, the more senior employees who have been of the job for a long time are more knowledgeable than the newer employees. As a business owner, you might be looking for ways to preserve the institutional knowledge your senior employees carry and share this knowledge with the newer staff. eLearning course for specialized and soft skills and behavior can solve this challenge for you. This works especially well for the kind of tasks that don’t change significantly over time because it allows you to reuse the existing courses over longer periods of time without having to spend time and money producing new training materials.

No matter what kind of business you are in, you will face a need to train staff, customers, or both. Providing eLearning courses will allow you to save time, money, and effort, while delivering outstanding knowledge retention rates and ensuring positive training outcomes. The four types of eLearning you may need are product knowledge training, software training, compliance training, skills/behavior training. Keep in mind these distinct types of solutions when requesting an eLearning price quote. When selecting an eLearning company that will design your training products, make sure that its team knows and understands how to deliver the training appropriate to your expectations that can truly benefit your business.

Tips for Selecting a Reliable eLearning Company

eLearning is becoming an increasingly important part of a corporate training and development function in large and small businesses nationwide. However, only about 40% of the companies in the US are currently using eLearning; this means that the other 60% are still yet to discover this amazing tool. If your company belongs to the 40% that are already using eLearning, you probably have already had experience working with an eLearning vendor. If your company is yet to utilize eLearning in your everyday business, then you might expect having to engage with an eLearning production company at some point in the near future. By following our five tips for selecting a qualified eLearning provider you can ensure the success of your eLearning project.

1. First Impression Matters

When initially contacting an eLearning company, pay attention to the experience you encounter. Most likely, the experience of communicating with the company for the first time will be indicative of the experience you can expect for the remainder of your engagement with the vendor. Think about the first impression you receive when you visit the company’s website. Does it look clean and modern? Does the content seem up to date? Are there any broken links or missing pages? A company that maintains a good online presence is more likely to have a good variety of resources your future project may need. Next, evaluate your experience reaching out to the company. If you called, how easy was it to speak to a live person? Was someone available on the line right away or did you have to wait? If you left a voice message, how long did it take this eLearning vendor to call you back? Same goes for filling out contact forms online and emailing the vendor. Are you satisfied with the speed they responded to your contact request or email message? Is the response appropriate to the kind of information you requested? The speed and clarity of communication between you and the vendor will play a huge role in the success of your project, therefore it’s in your best interest to pick a company with good communication practices from the get-go.

2. Knowledge and Expertise

Once you establish the initial contact with the prospective eLearning provider, take your time to evaluate how knowledgeable the team is. Whether you are new to eLearning or have worked on similar projects in the past, take your time to ask questions about the product, services, process, challenges, technology, and anything else that can potentially impact the project. Watch the vendor’s team respond to your questions and note how adequate their knowledge is. The team should be able to provide answers and clarifications on anything that directly relates to the production process. For those questions that they are not able to answer right away or refer you to another source, try to determine whether this information is truly out of scope of your contact person, or whether it indicates the gaps in knowledge which can negatively impact your project. It’s even more important to speak to the team that will be working on your project, evaluate the team’s experience and previously completed work, understand the strengths and weaknesses of each team member, as well as determine whether these strengths and weaknesses are well balanced for the successful completion of the project. The team’s knowledge and expertise is what’s going to make or break your project. Take them seriously and take your time to properly evaluate them.

3. Work Samples

A very important step in the process of finding the right eLearning vendor for your business is checking the work samples. Any respectable company should have a variety of samples they share with the prospective clients. Because no two companies are alike, eLearning products vary greatly from business to business, but don’t let that confuse you. Make sure to check items that stand out in sample’s execution quality, graphics, and functionality. Note positive as well as negative items you come across. While your eLearning product will likely be different, things like poor visuals or recurring bugs tend to stay consistent within the same team. If the team you’re interviewing has shown poor performance in the past, your best bet would be to go elsewhere. Never settle for screenshots of the past products, demand to see the working courses. Screenshots can be screen comps created in Photoshop or even dressed up stock images, you always want to see the actual eLearning course and not an image of one screen. Once you take a look at the work samples, ask yourself: would I be happy if this was the product I was given for the money I’m paying?

4. Availability

You want to make sure that the team is available to meet with you whenever the meeting is needed, and that they are capable of producing the eLearning course according to your timeline. If the team is slow to respond or fails to produce deliverables according to the timeline, it may not be giving your project the full attention it deserves. This is particularly important when the company relies of freelance contractors to get the job done. Contractors often work on multiple project for multiple companies at the same time, which limits the amount of time they can spend working on your project. Make sure you do the due diligence on the team’s workload and other commitments before signing a contract. This is especially true for large time-sensitive projects that absolutely have to be completed on time.

5. Flexibility

The eLearning vendor you end up working with should offer enough flexibility to meet your project’s most intricate needs. Because it takes time and money to design and develop a good eLearning course, you want to make sure that those time and money will not be wasted by the team’s inability to provide exactly what you are looking for. While any unique software system has its own limitations, modern day technology allows to solve almost any kind of a challenge. You eLearning provider should be flexible enough to deliver the product that performs exactly the way you envision.

Summary

Increasingly more companies are relying on eLearning to train their staff and sometimes even customers. If you work in the corporate training and development function, you will most likely face the need to shop for an eLearning vendor at some point in your career. When contacting the vendors, pay attention to the first impressions you get—those provide a good insight of how the vendor treats its clients. A reliable eLearning provider should have the knowledge and expertise required to complete your project, and should be able to support the claims of their knowledge and expertise by completely functioning eLearning samples that you can interact with. Finally, look for the team that can offer the flexibility, reliability, and availability your project requires. By using these tips when shopping for an eLearning vendor you can ensure that your project will be completed successfully, within the planned budget, and on schedule.

Quizzes Improve Knowledge Retention

Recent studies have shown that retrieval (a process of accessing certain information in your brain) is critical for robust, durable, long-term learning. Every time a memory is retrieved, that memory becomes better available for access in the future. Not surprisingly, practicing memory retrieval produces more knowledge retention than other effective techniques. From these findings, we understand that the retrieval process has a central role in learning. What’s interesting is that the benefits of repeated retrieval are not isolated to a particular type of learning, and instead appear with a variety of mediums, learning settings and situations including eLearning, online simulations and blended learning programs. Here’s another great fact: retrieval improves learning for a variety of learners ranging from preschoolers to senior citizen.

Now that we know that retrieval practice is such an important learning approach, we should start encouraging the learners to engage in retrieval to improve their learning in many different settings and situations. Up until now, retrieval was not regarded an important part of the learning process, and unfortunately, we were not encouraging our learners to engage in retrieval as often as we should have. Every eLearning designer should take into consideration the benefits of memory retrieval. Make sure that you provide quizzes, knowledge checks, and assessments with every learning product you develop. This simple step has an enormous potential to greatly improve the training outcomes for your learning population.

References:
http://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2016/06/learning-memory.aspx
http://com.msu.edu/Students/Academic_Guidance/long_term_retention_recall.pdf