So much of what we do in our daily lives has gone digital, and learning is no exception. While integrating digital learning within your corporate training programs can be a challenge, it’s an effective way to onboard, upskill and reskill your employees on the information they need to keep your company running smoothly.
Creating a design, finding a development team and leveraging an intentional deployment strategy are all key factors in executing a successful digital learning venture that will bring you a strong return on investment (ROI).
So, what goes into a successful digital learning solution? Before we dive in, let’s first consider its roots.
Digital Learning: A Brief History
Digital learning is defined as any type of learning accompanied by the use of technology, or instructional practice that makes use of technology. Today, digital learning encompasses a wide range of learning strategies and theories, including blended and virtual learning, which companies worldwide are embracing alongside the rise of remote and hybrid work.
The first machine that allowed students to test themselves on subject matters was invented in 1924. By 1954, BF Skinner had dreamed up a “teaching machine” that enabled schools to administer programmed instruction to their students. However, it was not until 1960 that the first computer-based training program was developed. Known as “PLATO” (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations), the program was designed for students at the University of Illinois but ended up being more broadly used by students statewide.
By the 1970s, online learning started to become more interactive rather than simply feeding information to students.
The 1990s saw an even bigger push toward digital learning. Schools were designed specifically to deliver online courses without companion in-person learning sessions. With its increased adoption, digital learning also became more affordable to develop and deliver.
As time went on, digital learning started making its way into the business realm. By the first decade of the 2000s, it had become a popular way to deliver training to employees. The move to online learning and training made it possible for both new and seasoned employees to develop and improve their skills when and where it’s most convenient.
Best Practices: From Creation to Deployment
As you are creating your digital learning strategy, it is important to effectively target your audience’s unique challenges and consider your organization’s future learning needs.
First and foremost, your digital learning strategy should focus on long-term career paths so that your learners have the means to continually grow and get better at their jobs. Consider everyday problems that may arise and provide useful information that can easily be accessed in one place when they come up.
As a next step, you’ll want to remember to keep your digital learning design flexible enough that you can incorporate data and feedback as you get it. Learning should never be stagnant, as methods are always changing and being improved. Don’t be afraid to ask employees questions about how useful the training was, and what would make it better going forward.
Before you launch a digital learning platform, make sure it is compatible with all modes of delivery you plan on using. Alpha and even beta testing will go a long way to making sure you provide information in a way that is useful and presents well regardless of the device.
Depending on how diverse your workforce is, you could run into language barriers and cultural differences when delivering digital learning. Consider your audience before deploying digital learning solutions so that cultural contexts are accounted for proactively rather than reactively.
You also might find some learners lacking continuous internet access or even access to a device on which to complete the training. To help more learners reap the training’s benefits, consider using a delivery format with downloads (i.e., prework, course notes, worksheets and other supplemental materials) that can be printed out and completed offline.
Digital Learning in Action
Digital learning can be a very useful tool when a proper strategy is put in place to address not only company needs but individual needs as well. For example, AllenComm put together a comprehensive digital learning program for SPTS that addressed company needs and employee concerns in a single presentation.
In this particular digital learning platform, we were able to increase awareness on suicide prevention, a sensitive yet critically important topic that proved helpful for educators, parents and teenagers alike. Digital learning allowed us to provide useful and informed tips on how to recognize a person in distress and critical information on handling situations like these, as well as relevant resources, all in one place.
This is the heart of the digital learning work we do at AllenComm. We weave together video training and various web design elements (such as pre- and post-training assessments to measure retention) for an engaging experience on topics that arm learners with the information and skills they need to improve their performance … and possibly even save lives as a result.