Digital learners are digital consumers. They have the same expectations of digital learning experiences as they do of digital shopping experiences. Personalized marketing — recommended products, targeted ads and so on — has largely transformed our digital experiences. Today, consumers expect to receive a personalized experience when they engage with the digital world. The same principles apply to digital training: Learners expect personalized, tailored experiences. In short, consumer expectations for digital experiences are much higher than ever before, and the same expectations translate to training.

Today, learners expect to receive equivalent digital learning experiences that reflect the standards of digital advancement they encounter elsewhere. Learners are, in effect, customers, whether you’re training an internal or external team. Just like customers, they expect to be met with personalized digital learning experiences.

The effectiveness of a digital training strategy rests on the learner’s experience. If they are disengaged or uninterested, they will not reap the full benefits of the training. If they cannot track and measure their own training goals, they will not feel motivated to invest the time, energy and effort needed to meet them. Many large-scale organizations have been unable to crack this code of training success because instead of assessing the status of their digital experiences, they assess their training’s content. The content process must be updated to coincide with modern digital experience expectations. Web-based training, for example, does not deliver a comprehensive digital experience. Content must be updated so that it can be rendered in the world of digital experiences. It must be more interactive and engaging.

Many companies purchased legacy learning management system (LMS) platforms years ago with the expectation that, as long as the system operated on digital devices, little change would be needed. This was an erroneous assumption. Digital expectations have changed so rapidly in the last five years that legacy LMS platforms, ones designed for the beginnings of the digital training area, no longer fit. Companies instead need next-generation LMS platforms designed to provide the experiences modern consumers expect.

Learners expect companies to meet basic digital experience needs.

There is a set of basic digital experience standards that must be met when it comes to digital training. When companies provide digital experiences below the standard, reputation suffers, and so does the ability to engage with the end user (e.g., the learner).

We are not talking about operability and functionality (these are implied) as the most basic standards of digital training experiences. We are not even talking about the integration of video, audio or interactive components. Instead, the most basic digital experience standards involve how the platform is configured to serve each unique user, from personalization to design.

Three specific elements are key: personalization, mobile functionality and interoperability. For training to be successful, the digital experience must be personalized to the learner’s needs, providing training recommendations to suit the learner’s role or dashboards highlighting upcoming goals or deadlines. Mobile functionality is self-explanatory, yes, but it is missing from a surprising number of digital training experiences. Users must be able to access their learning in a mobile-first environment (one designed for a mobile application with mobile-specific capabilities, not simply a desktop application converted to mobile) to train on their own terms. Interoperability is the final foundational need that must be met by digital training technology. Learners must be able to access training content from the applications they already use daily. This means that the ideal, next-generation learning platform (an LMS) will be interoperable with other commonly used workplace apps, like Slack, Salesforce, or Microsoft Teams, to name a few.

From Outdated to Cutting Edge

Learner engagement and training effectiveness relies on understanding the learner. The ultimate goal of the digital experience is to facilitate learner engagement. Companies can only engage learners if they employ technology designed to support modern digital experience needs. There is a critical difference between legacy LMS platforms of old, which may appear to serve these needs, and the next-generation LMS platforms of today, which boost learner engagement in a measurable way. Legacy LMS platforms were not designed at the foundation to serve modern learners’ needs because those needs did not exist at the time.

No matter the number of updates or revamps made, many legacy systems still function with an outdated perspective of the end-user. Modern learners expect positive digital experiences above all else, even beyond the bells and whistles many LMS platforms offer. It’s not that these bells and whistle, like interactive training courses or streamlined planning and messaging, which are now expected components of the modern digital experience — are totally useless. Interactivity can be critical to learner success in many cases. However, these showy features are rendered totally useless when the digital experience is wholly deficient.

Learner engagement and, as a result, training effectiveness can only be achieved when digital experiences meet the needs of learners. In the modern training environment, learners must be able to engage with training and training technology in a way that feels tailored to them and makes learning functional in their own lives. If companies are stuck in outdated, old-fashioned learning strategies, the best way to create a positive digital experience is to go back to the basics and determine if learner needs are being met. A digital LMS platform — one designed to serve needs for personalization, mobile functionality and interoperability — is an all-encompassing solution that supports modern digital experience needs.