Online training delivery is popular, but does it work? According to a study by the University of Warwick, the completion rate for most massive open online courses (MOOCs) is below 13%. For the e-learning industry, which is expected to reach $325 billion by 2025, this research is undoubtedly cause for alarm.

Businesses have come to rely heavily on e-learning to train their employees and keep pace with their changing industries. Therefore, cracking the riddle of why people drop out of online courses and finding ways to make e-learning more effective needs to be a priority for the training industry at large.

The main challenge is that not every learner is the same. Learning delivery models should be in line with their unique needs and avoid the assumption that just because a methodology is a buzzword, it actually works. Microlearning, synchronous learning models and hands-on approaches all have their place on the contemporary learning delivery map. Let’s dive deeper into the core elements of an effective training strategy.

Learning Delivery Approaches

The Evolution of Corporate Learning

Josh Bersin points out that the traditional e-learning approach was focused on detailed course catalogs, self-study and online learning. Now, we are moving toward a continuous, digital learning approach that uses design thinking and places considerable emphasis on the user experience. A blended approach to learning that balances self-study with interactivity is most effective.

The blended learning model includes a few critical elements of a strong learning platform:

The 70-20-10 Taxonomy

The 70-20-10 model suggests that 70% of learning happens through hands-on experience and projects and 20% through social forms of learning, such as coaching, mentoring and collaborative assignments. Formal, course-based instruction, which seems to drive the e-learning industry, accounts for only 10% of learning, based on this model.

Real-time Video

Now, more than ever, people are interested in learning directly from experts through video. Static videos are important but cannot cater to the varied levels of interest and specificity of individual learners. Real-time videos and virtual classrooms are the solution.

Everyone, All the Time, Everywhere

The increasing influence of mobile platforms and instantaneous access to information has driven the availability of just-in-time learning, which is now considered de-facto.

Data-driven and Design Thinking-oriented

A great product always starts with the customer’s problem and then tries to solve it through constant iteration and improvement using data-driven analysis. The same iterative solution-driven process could apply to learning.

Design Thinking and Artificial Intelligence

They are buzzwords but also a critical way to manage personalization and user-centric learning design, especially at scale.

Blended and Multi-modal Learning Will Drive Engagement and an Outcome-oriented Training Approach

What does a great online learning experience look like? Here are some core tenets that have shown clear success in delivering improved outcomes:

The future is blended. Pull-based learning (video, books and other content) works great when the learner is self-motivated. However, a more synchronous learning experience that blends static e-learning modules with mentors, live virtual classes and hands-on practice drives higher completion and improves retention.

For outcome-based training, macro-learning will continue to play a strong role. Microlearning is great where the learning is discrete and incremental, but macro-learning is critical to gain mastery of a subject and when a significant outcome is desired in a short time. If you are trying to accomplish specific transformational outcomes, macro-learning is still a good option.

Learners want anytime, anywhere access. The best learning platforms optimize accessibility on both desktop and mobile platforms. They allow learning on the go and even offline learning when a network is unavailable. The modern learner expects access all the time, everywhere.

Data-driven platforms will succeed. Any platform where the learners’ desired outcomes take center stage will win in the long run. Traditional instructional design frameworks are being upgraded to more customer-first approaches. Focus groups and rapid prototyping are critical to delivering learning outcomes.

Artificial intelligence will enable better learner engagement. From personalization to curriculum completion assistance to course recommendations, AI has the potential to take learning to the next level. While investment in AI has already started, it will become a default technology for learning within the next two or three years.

Learning design teams will look more like software teams. In many ways, the evolution of the learning industry reflects the evolution of the software industry. The software industry traditionally followed a waterfall model for software development: Intensive, long-term projects went through a sequential process from gathering requirements to design to implementation to verification before finally moving to the maintenance stage. In the instructional design context, this approach is known as the ADDIE model (analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation).

More recently, software development has shifted in favor of a more agile, customer-centric, iterative approach. We’re seeing this shift in the learning and development industry, too. Building a good basic product, measuring its performance and iterating to reach the right outcomes is a better way to deliver great learning outcomes. These agile teams also automate their quality assurance (QA) and deployment processes through validation and release tools that were hitherto used only in software product development. Welcome to the world of DevOps in instructional design.

Given the fast-changing industrial and technological landscape, the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn is likely to emerge as a differentiator for individuals and companies alike. In such an environment, a blended learning approach that makes optimum use of available technology will prove to be valuable.