Published on

September 17, 2021

Corporate eLearning 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Justus Hunke photo

Justus Hunke

Marketing Analyst

Category:

Learning Hub

Reading time:

10

Minutes
Girl sitting in front of her PC and waving

What is eLearning?

You probably heard of it before. Simply put, electronic learning, or eLearning for short, is any type of training, learning, or education on electronic devices. With eLearning, educational materials can be delivered and consumed on electronic devices such as computers, tablets, and sometimes even smartphones. Examples for eLearning are watching a video tutorial, reading an interesting article on the internet, or taking part in an online quiz - it is basically any form of delivery of learning and training through digital resources.

As you can see, we use eLearning every day to develop ourselves as individuals. Universities and companies, from small start-ups to large enterprises, use eLearning to train their employees or students and optimize their internal processes.

Key Takeaways of this Article

  • the introduction of the first MAC and the emergence of the internet set the development of digital learning in motion
  • eLearning is most often used to develop new skills and gain or update their knowledge about a specific topic
  • a large variety of content types makes digital learning interesting, motivating, fun, and engaging
  • an eLearning platform should have at least these qualities: usability, security, reliability, and delivery of good analytics
  • providing high engagement, incorporating gamification elements, and using multimedia, personalized content results in a great learning experience for your employees

A short History of eLearning

Probably the first learning machine was developed by the Italian engineer Agostino Ramelli in 1588 when he invented a reading wheel for the King of France. This reading wheel made it possible to refer back to different literature sources without running back and forth. However, a lot of time has passed since then, of course, and technological innovations have not stopped there. When the first MAC was introduced in the 1980′s, the foundation was laid for an educational evolution. Learning about a topic and developing skill sets became easier for people than ever before. Then, in 2000 and 2001 the internet emerged. These two events created a shift from instructor-led to online education: People now had access to unlimited online resources and eLearning opportunities. During this time, businesses also began using eLearning to train their employees. People, in general, got access to educational programs that allowed them to earn an online degree and expand their knowledge about nearly any topic they liked. Nowadays, eLearning has become very popular and appreciated among learners all over the world

Forms of eLearning

Since technology has made it possible to enrich learning with digital content, there has been a whole range of forms of digital learning. In addition to exclusively virtual teaching, which is primarily carried out via the internet and does not include any significant proportion of physical teaching, there are other forms that are more interactive and dynamic:

Blended Learning

When the advantages of in-class teaching are combined with those of virtual training, this is referred to as blended learning and combines both forms of learning in a common curriculum. Blended learning is used in particular when practical implementation is to be trained in addition to pure knowledge transfer (e.g., in occupational safety).

Computer-Supported Cooperative Learning

Computer-Supported Cooperative Learning (short CSCL) describes learning concepts in which cooperative learning is supported by the use of computer-based information and communication systems. Collaborative learning in groups that bring in complementary experiences to acquire new knowledge by interacting with each other is seen as appropriate to today's working and learning world.

CSCL is commonly used in educational environments. Advantages for this are the constant availability of teaching materials, the easy cooperation of group members without the need for in-person meetings, and the possibility to work on a project at different times.

Content Sharing

Initiatives, which allow exchanging learning units, are called content sharing platforms. They exist both as commercial and free services in the eLearning industry. Content sharing is expected to increase the quality of published educational content since every user who has access can edit it and make some improvements.

eLearning Content Types

As already mentioned, eLearning provides you with a huge amount of learning materials easily accessible via the internet. One of the main reasons why people use eLearning is because they want to develop new skills and gain or update their knowledge about a specific topic. In order to do so, they can make use of a variety of content types - I bet you've used more than just one of these before. The most commonly used are

  • Digital Courses
  • Quizzes
  • Webinars
  • Video Courses
  • Screencasts
  • Podcasts

What is an eLearning Platform?

An eLearning platform is an information system that organizations and institutions use to provide their users with learning material. For example, a Learning Management System (LMS) is an eLearning platform. Most courses you can find on these platforms are often filled with pre-recorded videos, texts, or academic papers and sometimes even with interactive online services like quizzes and games.

The majority of online learning platforms offer different types of programs:

Individual courses

This is the smallest type of all programs available. Individual courses can be 1-off classes, once-in-a-while classes, regular classes, or courses available all the time. When choosing to learn with individual courses, you often study alone and are largely on your own. And if you have any questions, there is a group discussion forum in most cases. The typical duration of these courses ranges from just a few weeks to a couple of months.

Course bundles

Course bundles are, as the name suggests, a collection of courses about a specific topic, e.g. data science, product management. On many online learning platforms, they are called Learning Paths or Nanodegrees for which you can earn a certificate.

Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees

On some eLearning platforms, you can even get a traditional bachelor’s degree from renowned companies and partner universities all around the globe. But hold on! Most online degrees start at a total sum of $22,000. Sure, this is cheaper than on-campus degrees but it is still expensive for many people.

When comparing different eLearning platforms, the main flaw is immediately apparent: There is no such thing as a personalization of the educational content. That means the content you or your employees learn is the same for all learners, independent of their current skills level.

Corporate eLearning Dos and Don'ts

Wow! Researchers from Oregon University show that digital learning is more effective than traditional education methods. Thus, eLearning is already changing the way how individuals and also entire companies learn. It is steadily becoming the new status quo in corporate training but also in education in general. Unfortunately, shifting learning to the internet alone does not make a significant difference for your employees in acquiring new skills. But don't worry. we got your back! In order to keep your learners' motivation high, increases the retention rate, and also improve your ROI on corporate training, here are some important points you should consider:

Choose the right eLearning Platform

Choosing the right learning platform affects how much your employees enjoy using it and even how effectively they use it. Even though this section actually deserves its own blog article and it is hard to find the "right" eLearning platform, we can give you some food for thought here:

  • Is your platform easy to use? Make sure your platform provides an intuitive system and has clear controls for all users.
  • Is it secure? That means, for example, is the platform conform to laws about personal information security? If yes, good!
  • Does it have sufficient analytics available for all users? Why is that important you ask? Because your learners have to figure out their personal skill and knowledge gaps. Additionally, you need enough data and good reporting in order to evaluate the learners' performance and your ROI on employee training.
  • Is it reliable? Your eLearning platform should be stable and able to handle both high demand from users and ongoing growth of employees using it. The coolest platform is of no use to you if it is constantly overloaded and crashing.

Include Participatory Teaching Methods

Do not get me wrong, learning always involves theory and, criticism aside, the theory is actually a good thing because it allows you to understand complex issues at a much deeper level. But learning is more than that.

You probably have heard about the 10,000-hour rule: The 10,000-hour rule says that you need to practice for about 10,000 hours to get close to perfection and become a master of your subject. In most cases, you won't become a master of your subject if you only learn by theory. Learning also requires real-life practice. But as well as in school and university, eLearning offers you a huge course catalog of theoretical topics; real-life practice is often sought in vain here.

This learning pyramid illustration from Micheal Simmons shows that learning consists not only of passive teaching methods (Lecture, Reading, Audiovisual, Demonstration) but also of participatory teaching methods (Discussion, Practice Doing, Teach others):

"The Learning Pyramid: Why You Should Always Teach What You Learn" - Michael Simmons

And since teaching is at the end of the spectrum, Seneca said it best: “While we teach, we learn”.

Have in mind that learners feel an urge to discuss their opinions and give feedback. Unfortunately, most eLearning platforms only use passive teaching methods which results in a lower avg. retention rate. This problem can be addressed and fixed by incorporating cohort-based learning and discussion sessions. These tactics truly are important drivers for learner retention.

Increase Learner Engagement

Content types that ensure engagement have a not negligible impact on the effectiveness of the learning progress. In a nutshell, learner engagement means the participation of learners in your educational courses and is also an indicator of a successful learning experience.

The spectrum of engagement in eLearning ranges from absolutely no participation (also called passive learning process) to highly engaged (also called learner-centered education). You can boost learner engagement within your company by making

  • the educational process personal
  • learning social
  • learning a priority in your company
  • learning fun

Provide a great Learning Experience

As you know by now, eLearning offers you the chance to make your content engaging and interactive. Incorporating gamification in your platform and having an appealing User Interface, result in a better learning experience for the users. Here are some examples of gamification elements:

  • Learning Points (LPs)
  • Leaderboards
  • Quizzes
  • Games

Moreover, the more engaging the content is, the better the learners remember information and if your workers enjoy learning, they will be able to recall and apply the concepts better.

Deliver Personalized Content

This is probably the most important aspect which separates a good learning platform from a great learning platform: Do not only make sure your educational content is still relevant and timely but also it is tailored to your employee's needs, and current skills and knowledge, too.

Let's be honest to you, Learning for the sake of checking off a box or visiting an obligatory training requirement will not make a difference. As already mentioned, most eLearning platforms still lack personalization. The content delivered is often the same for all learners. But those one-size-fits-all solutions simply won’t make it in the educational world. To make your training more efficient, you need to provide your employees with the right content at the right time when they need it. Your learning platform should have recommended and mandatory courses based on your employees' previous activities in order to provide clear “next steps”.

Since every person learns differently, you should use multimedia. So break up the monotony of straight reading. Instead, include video and audio elements, meaningful, high-fidelity graphics, etc. to your courses. Your learners will absorb the content quicker if the materials are just right for them and their learning style.

Summary

Since the first MAC and the increasing popularity of the internet, digital learning has become very popular and appreciated among learners all over the world. From an economic perspective, the eLearning market is continuously growing, amazing innovations arise steadily and new, more engaging, and dynamic forms of eLearning have emerged. Interactive quizzes and games became are part of almost any online learning platform and nowadays, people are even able to obtain Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees online. It is clearly no exaggeration to say that eLearning changed (and is still changing) the way how individuals and also entire companies learn. But shifting learning to the internet alone does not make a significant difference in acquiring new skills. Choosing a sophisticated and state-of-the-art learning platform with a high level of learner engagement and personalized materials will provide your employees with a great learning experience. And if your workers enjoy learning, they will be able to recall and apply the concepts learned better. This is learning as it is supposed to be in the 21st century.

With edyoucated, we offer your employees a library of state-of-the-art skills they can instantly apply in practice. Apart from that, our personalized learning plans are adapting to your employee's roles and skills in real-time. When your employees get started, they just answer a few questions about their skills. The edyoucated personalization engine automatically determines the most effective learning plan for your employees. And the best thing: it learns over time and grows together with your skills.

We also offer learning journeys with expert mentors and cohort-based learning programs for market-leading success rates. Kickstart your digital transformation from the inside.

Sign up now and try our personalized learning plans for free!

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