By Tim Hildreth
I am lucky to be home. I was in Dublin last week and made it home on Friday on one of the only flights to leave Europe due to the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano. This experience reminded me once again why e-learning software is such an important component of a well rounded development program. The thousands of unfortunate stranded travelers trying to get out were a stark reminder of the fact that face to face learning – while great – just isn’t always possible!
Now it’s not every day that global air travel (or a good chunk of it) is shut down by a volcano, but there are plenty of other more mundane reasons why you can’t always rely on face to face training. Cost, logistics, and competing priorities can all make it hard for learners to participate fully in off-site and even on-site ILT events. So how do you balance the need for robust development with the realities of today’s world?
Online learning courseware provides an ideal resource to support these goals. Providing essential information on fundamental skills, courses are “always on” allowing learners to get the training where and when they want. Interactive simulations provide practice and review of key skills and new concepts while things like Job Aids and SkillBriefs reinforce learning and ensure knowledge transfer. Combining a variety of modalities allows you to broaden the reach of your program and increase the “stickiness” of training by providing on-going support over time. If you send someone to a class at the beginning of the month, there’s a good chance that – unless they’re a superstar – by the end of the month they’ve forgotten most of what they learned. But if you can send that person – as a follow up – a link to an online reference book a few days later, and then maybe an online video after that, and an online article a bit later . . . you can sustain the e-learning from that original session. And because it is often less costly than traditional classroom based solutions, technology can let you bring the latest content into your organization much more economically than with traditional methods.
You can use e learning courseware on its own or to increase the effectiveness of your current program by laying the ground work before an ILT course or when used as post-class review. As powerful as on-line self-paced courseware is though, sometimes you still need to leverage ILT. A Virtual classroom solution – like SkillSoft’s Dialogue Live – can help fill in the gaps for those times when the volcanoes . . . and life in general . . . make it impossible for everyone to be together in the same place.
How have you used online learning courseware to “fill the gaps?” Let me know in the comments!