The COVID-19 pandemic fueled a surge in the use of eLearning at work. According to a report from Accenture and the CIPD, 70% of organisations reported an increase in the use of digital or online solutions in 2021, and 36% also increased their investment in learning technology. At the same time, more of the UK’s workforce has shown an interest in upskilling, with 70% looking to learn new skills in 2022.
With the need for learning in the workplace greater than ever, today’s L&D departments must make long-term eLearning opportunities available to employees, even as they return to the office. This can be done with a digital learning programme that uses approaches like asynchronous self-guided learning, blended learning, and microlearning to meet employees’ upskilling needs while fulfilling the organisation’s business goals.
In this article, we take a deeper dive into common learning programmes, the benefits for both L&D teams and employees alike, and why you should consider them as part of your digital learning strategy.
First up? Why asynchronous learning is critical to knowledge retention.
Asynchronous learning is a learner-centred approach, giving employees complete control over their learning by allowing them to work according to their own pace and schedule. It can take place in various forms such as eLearning modules, company wikis, discussion forums, quizzes, videos, and gamified training. Asynchronous learning boosts knowledge retention, maintains employees’ productivity, and leads to higher engagement—all of which add up to helping your company retain its top talent and preserve its institutional knowledge.
A study by KPMG shows that learners are motivated the most by an individual learning pace (95%). For example, if a learner watches pre-recorded video lessons or lectures after work or during lunch breaks, they’re engaging in learning that fits with their workload rather than an unwelcome disruption to their workflow. This also makes asynchronous learning perfectly suited for remote or hybrid teams who work in different locations or different time zones.
This type of self-paced learning can improve memory performance, particularly when the learner spends more time studying difficult material. Asynchronous learning gives learners the space they need to truly understand and master what they’re learning and transfer that knowledge back into their daily work.
Flexible learning also helps improve the overall workplace experience. 60% of surveyed CEOs noticed a strong upskilling programme positively impacts their corporate culture and employee engagement. With asynchronous learning, employees can upskill and grow in their jobs at their own pace, without being forced to sit through courses or wait for training managers to organise classroom training sessions.
Asynchronous learning also goes hand in hand with blended learning. So, what does blended learning involve?
Blended learning (or hybrid or mixed-mode learning) combines traditional face-to-face learning with eLearning. It provides learners with the opportunity to enjoy the best of both worlds because:
Blended learning provides a happy medium between in-person ILT and a total digital learning experience. LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report says, “blended online learning is here to stay”, thanks in large part to the growing number of organisations that have embraced a hybrid work model.
However, for blended learning to be successful, L&D departments need to abandon the old-school, top-down approach that centres on the instructor and not the learner. With traditional learning methods, an instructor prepares lessons for learners who passively absorb the information. With blended learning, your organisation collaborates across teams to create engaging, personalised, and active learning environments. This can be implemented in the form of:
A popular approach to blended learning is the ‘flipped’ classroom model, where the online segment of the course is used to learn new information while learning discussions are conducted in person. Constellation Brands, a Fortune 500 producer and marketer of beer, wine, and spirits, has been using the flipped classroom model with great success.
In the past, an organisation’s L&D department would use a standardised in-person software training for its employees to learn concepts together, followed by individual practice later. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, team members now learn at a self-directed pace and then come together in workshops to collaborate and discuss concepts.
“Now, we’re able to take a whole month to go through seven-hour eLearning at our own pace, then come together with an expert to test our knowledge with a shared exercise”, says Maggie Romanovich, Constellation’s director of Learning and Development. “It means that people are using the training a lot more.” This has also given the company’s subject-matter experts more time to focus on their core responsibilities.
Looking for more blended learning tips? Check out our free ebook: The Right Way to do Blended Learning
Another digital learning method that has evolved in recent years is the use of AI to create personalised learning experiences. So, what does AI in learning look like and how will this technology impact the learning and development industry in years to come?
Today’s workforce wants course recommendations to be personalised to support their career goals or fill skills gaps. Personalised learning gives your employees ownership of their professional development and the ability to customise their learning path by having a direct say in the processes and content being delivered. With artificial intelligence (AI), your employees can decide the direction of their learning instead of having to follow predetermined pathways.
In fact, 41% of L&D professionals surveyed think AI/machine learning will significantly impact eLearning over the next five years by driving more accurate personalisation. With an AI-powered learning platform, algorithms can gather data on each learner’s strengths, weaknesses, interests, and competencies.
This information is used to understand their knowledge of specific skills and to create a learning experience with relevant training recommendations tailored to each individual that evolves over time. Machine learning algorithms can also track performance, predict learning outcomes, and then adapt content to reflect each learner’s progress.
For example, if an employee is trying to learn a new skill, the platform will continue to adjust the content and difficulty levels based on their progress until they have officially mastered the concept. And ultimately, when an employee’s learning journey is driven by their passions, interests, and aspirations, they are more likely to be invested in the experience and better engaged with the material.
Next up? How microlearning minimises distractions and allows employees to learn new skills while working.
According to a LinkedIn Workplace Study, the biggest barrier to learning in the workplace is time, and research conducted by Josh Bersin for Deloitte shows that employees, on average, spend just 1% of their workweek (or 24 minutes) on learning and development. Constant digital notifications and countless other workplace interruptions make it difficult for employees to focus, let alone allocate time toward their professional development.
Microlearning solves this issue by empowering employees to learn in the flow of work, which helps them develop new skills while maintaining their productivity levels. This technique breaks down learning topics into bite-sized chunks of information that are repeated and spaced out. Activities are typically less than 10 minutes long and can be done through video, online tests and quizzes, infographics, micro-courses, immersive learning games, webinars, and podcasts.
These quick lessons minimise distractions and can be completed in the flow of work. Employees discover relevant information and resources related to their work and immediately transfer that knowledge to their work situation.
Walmart, for example, uses gamification to address safety practices by allowing shift workers to play a game for 3 to 5 minutes and answer questions about safety features. This microlearning technique helped drive a 54% decrease in recordable safety incidents at eight of Walmart’s distribution centres. Employees’ knowledge levels on safety topics also increased by approximately 15%.
A successful digital learning programme needs the best tools and resources to support your employee’s learning journey and to turn their precious individual knowledge into institutional knowledge; that’s where a learning management system (LMS) comes in.
Investing in an LMS that supports blended, asynchronous, and microlearning preserves your company’s institutional knowledge, ensures knowledge retention, and allows your courses to adapt along with your business.
Instead of spreading out your online courses over different platforms, drives, and devices, you can house all your material in one place. This reduces the risk of losing your company’s important information and makes it easier to create online courses that support digital learning.
Once you upload and publish your online course materials to your LMS, your employees have access to information whenever they need it. This gives them the ability to enhance their knowledge and improve their skills asynchronously at their own pace.
The right LMS gives you visibility into your learners’ activities, which can help to identify skills gaps and establish strategies to close them. For example, using AI and machine learning, your LMS platform can identify areas where an employee is struggling, and then you can offer them supplemental workplace training resources to improve their performance or learning behaviours.
A collaborative learning platform democratises the learning process by allowing all employees to build and share online courses and leave feedback. This allows organisations to foster a culture of peer learning and encourages higher-level thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration amongst teams.
With over 95% of millennial and Gen Z workers stressing the importance of continuous learning opportunities, organisations that want to retain top talent and preserve institutional knowledge must provide upskilling opportunities to their employees. Continuous eLearning is a vital part of your workforce’s lives as professionals and individuals.
For continuous eLearning to thrive, L&D departments and teams need to create a learning culture that recognizes everyone has a part to play in building great learning experiences. The more knowledge and expertise you have flowing between your employees, the more likely you will be able to create an environment where continuous digital learning can thrive.
As eLearning continues to evolve into digital learning in the workplace, a solid infrastructure is even more critical so that your employees can access the high-quality resources and knowledge they need to excel in their jobs. 360Learning’s intuitive tools allow users to create interactive and collaborative eLearning courses that enhance knowledge sharing and elevate the employee’s role in their own continuous learning. Ready to see collaborative learning in action? Speak to an expert today.