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  • Writer's picturePeter Franklin

Does Corona signal the end of training?

Growth of e-learning

Whilst most management learning is still centred on the classroom there has been a rapid growth in e-learning over the past decade. Many of the top business schools offer Massive Open Online Courses and YouTube is awash with instructional videos – for virtually any subject under the sun. In tandem with the growth in popularity of e-learning has been a recognition of the potential for high drop-out rates on e-learning courses.

The new Corona world

Over the last twenty years we have seen significant growth in homeworking. Many professionals now spend at least one day per week “working from home”.

The corona virus is forcing businesses and organisations to restrict social contact. Organisations across the world are now asking their staff to work from home and to restrict gathering together. The aim, of course, is to protect the health of the workforce – and to maintain business continuity in the face of the threat of mass staff unavailability due to illness.

From a learning perspective this creates both a threat and an opportunity.

The threat is that learning opportunities disappear as training just gets cancelled and learning on the job from peers just cannot take place. This in the long term, leads to lower skill levels, and in turn lower sales, lower quality outputs, lower customer satisfaction which inevitably results in lost revenues and profits.

If home working is a short lived temporary feature, the loss of learning will not have much impact. However, if we are looking at many months, or even a year or more the impacts could be significant.

Indeed many organisations may well find that home working works well and shift the post-Corona balance between office based work and home based work towards the home - thus reducing real estate costs significantly. However, if this comes at the cost of organisational learning the trade off could do more harm than good.

The opportunity is for the out-of-office time to be used to build skills and knowledge through e-learning, which in turn leads to improved performance and profits. However, if e-training initiatives are to be truly successful they need to include interventions that reduce drop-out rates.

So, what should your organisation do?

You need to take advantage of the changing work environment to build the skills and knowledge which lead to improved performance.

And you can do this by:

1. Capitalising on the shift in time balance

As a consequence of the Coronavirus outbreak the balance of time has shifted further from the office to the home. For many staff this may well mean more time in an environment with less distractions than a busy and bustling office – which is perfect for e-learning.

For staff with children, and schools closed this will not be the case. However, given home workers do manage to separate work time from family time they should also be able to carve out some time for training. One of the characteristics of e-learning is that subjects are broken down into short modules which can be slotted into appropriate e-learning windows.

In addition, shifting the balance of time to homeworking also removes the time spent commuting potentially freeing up many hours per week for e-learning initiatives.

2. Use blended learning

By this we mean ensure that there is a tutored component to the learning. Experience has shown that having some tutor involvement is vital for two reasons.

a. When a student goes through the learning material on their own, they may well misunderstand some things, or not fully take on board others, and have questions unanswered. Having a web-based session with an expert tutor enables these mis-learnings to be surfaced and corrected – which yields a far better outcome than self-study alone.

b. When a student knows that they are scheduled for a session with a tutor they are incentivised to complete the course work prior to the session which reduces drop-out rates compared to an untutored course.

3. You need to pro-actively manage the learning.

By tracking the progress of the student/delegate through the training programme you can make sure they stay on track. To achieve this, you need to have the course delivered on a professional learning platform. Many large organisations now have these available, and smaller organisations can outsource to learning platform providers.

Pro-actively managing students/delegates ensures that completion rates are maximised.

4. You need to celebrate student achievement

By recognising successful course completion you create an additional incentive to complete learning programmes – which reduces drop-out rates. Furthermore, it also incentivises others to take up good programmes.

So, blended, managed, e-learning would seem to be an excellent way forward. Embrace it to take advantage of the changing work environment to build the skills and knowledge

At Compelling Propositions we have created a blended, managed, e-learning programme in the field of Communications Effectiveness. If you are interested in this specific area of training, please take a look at our Pyramid Thinking Plus e-learning programme.

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