Continuous professional development at the workplace has proved to be successful in retaining clients and staying competitive in the market. According to a survey conducted in 2019, an average of $1,308 per employee was spent by employers worldwide on L&D.
The world has witnessed a tectonic shift in the primary mode of corporate learning from in-person classroom training to digital learning, actuated by the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020. As a result, the development of appropriate and accessible digital learning tools has become an important objective of the human resource management sector in organizations.
Digital learning comprises e-learning and m-learning. While e-learning (electronic learning) is defined as the learning enabled by electronic tools and media, m-learning (mobile learning) is the e-learning across multiple contexts using mobile devices, wireless transmission, and other electronic devices.
Benefits Of Digital Learning In Corporate Environments
There are several benefits of using digital learning in place of or in addition to traditional in-person classroom training. These include:
- Global Reach
- Reduction in Cost
- Cascading Learning
- Reduction in Time and Effort
- Increased Productivity
● Global Reach
With companies having their businesses in numerous geographies, in-person classroom training would not match the global reach offered by digital learning.
● Reduction in Cost
Digital learning has enabled organizations to reduce the travel costs of their employees to the respective training locations to a great extent.
● Cascading Learning
Digital learning has also made it easier to train the instructors and trainers in a consistent manner.
Digital training is offered through cloud-based platforms. It enables an organization to deliver the training session at the convenience of the instructors and trainers, as well as employees. The training may also be provided in parts vis-à-vis all at once.
● Reduction in Time and Effort
Digital training has enabled the employees to acquire and develop new skills and information almost immediately with the help of a cloud-based storage facility. In contrast to relying on printed matter, which needs to be curated, published, and distributed to all employees, digital learning saves a lot of time and effort for the organizations.
● Increased Productivity
Digital learning has enabled employees to choose from a variety of topics according to their personal interests and professional goals, thereby boosting their productivity and efficiency.
Types Of Digital Learning Methods
Accessibility plays a vital role in the success of any e-learning module. M-learning (mobile learning) has enabled a multitude of learners to access the e-learning modules at any time, from anywhere, and therefore, managed to gain popularity among the developers of corporate training programs.
Various corporate training programs are designed on the basis of their flexibility and scalability. The various methods of digital learning adopted by various organizations include:
- Web e-learning
- Live online training (virtual classroom)
- Video-based content
- Online assessment
● Web e-learning
Web e-learning is based on website content. The websites may be accessed by the employees at any time and place from their electronic devices. The website may include multimedia and other web-based tools, thus enabling the employees to get acquainted with the organization’s communication technology.
● Live online training (virtual classroom)
This model enables the instructors and trainers to connect with the learners virtually from the comfort of their homes. Being an interactive model, it engages all the participants to collaborate, ideate, and build personal connections, thus adding a human element that is absent in the other methods of digital learning.
● Video-based content
Organizations are increasingly using video modules for the training of their employees. Just like the websites, the video modules may be accessed by the employees at any time and place from their electronic devices.
● Online assessment
The online assessment enables the employees to test their knowledge and understanding of the topic learned via an e-learning method.
Microlearning involves designing the e-learning modules in the form of small information nuggets, each addressing one learning objective at a time, taking into consideration the average attention span of a human as not more than 8 minutes. This method has enabled the employees to retain more information in an efficient manner.
The three digital technologies that can complement the digital learning experience include Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs), Microlearning Platforms, and Learning Analytics Tools.
Digital Learning Accessibility
Each employee perceives, interprets, and responds to information in a different manner. Therefore, developing digital learning content may risk wastage of time and money, if the employees are unable to absorb the training material that is meant to help them upskill themselves and rise up the corporate ladder.
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the internet, published the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
As recommended by the latest WCAG, the following four principles (also called POUR) shall be the foundation of accessible digital learning content:
This means that the content and user interface must be available to the learners in ways they can perceive, such as multiple media including visual, text, and audio versions/descriptions.
This means that the user interface and navigation must work with both standard and adaptive input devices.
This means that the content and training material must be concise, straightforward and unambiguous, and in a fitting language (English or others).
This means that the content and training must be manageable through multiple assistive technology and devices. It should also be accessible to learners of various backgrounds and abilities.
Universal Design Of Digital Learning Platforms And Its Challenges
Universal Design of a digital learning platform essentially means a course that is designed in a way that fits the needs of all employees, including the differently-abled, albeit with assistive technologies.
However, designing such a course requires extensive research, experimentation, coordination, and cooperation.
The two major challenges of universally accessible digital learning platforms are:
- Reduced interactivity of the user interface
In an attempt to cater to ‘all’ employees, the elements of the user interface which engage the learners, often take a back seat. The focus and priority of the developer shift from interactivity to accessibility. While it is a challenge to prioritize both while designing the digital learning platform, it is not impossible, and if considered from the outset, has a great potential to generate an interface, which is universally accessible and interactive.
- Development of accessible digital learning models/templates
Commercially available applications are not yet capable of catering to the requirement of the digital learning platforms to be universally accessible. This often leads to increased technological glitches, browser incompatibility, and partial accessibility, consequently resulting in an unsatisfactory learning experience and unnecessary cost overruns.
With the world moving towards a digital working environment, it becomes imperative for organizations to equip themselves with the ever-evolving digital learning platforms. It must be taken into consideration that while e-learning modules have numerous benefits, the benefits may be wholly reaped only via the universal accessibility of such modules.
Digital learning has not only brought the learning resources closer to the masses as long as they have an operational internet connection, but it has also enabled the learners to choose whatever they wish to learn, whenever they wish to learn, and from wherever they wish to learn.
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