Quick Tips for Developing a Winning eLearning Strategy

Quick Tips for Developing a Winning eLearning Strategy

Here is a quick recap of what works in developing an eLearning strategy that brings results.

Identify key business goals
Before you come up with a winning eLearning strategy, identify your organization’s business goals. Typical goals might include decreased time-to-market of new products, improved customer service, achieving 100% compliance on legal mandates etc. Nail them down, so that you know exactly what you need to be targeting with your eLearning initiatives. You may need to meet with executive leadership to drill down to the key ones – don’t guess, ensure you are in sync with what leadership defines as critical to business. Keep your vision focused and don’t try to target too much.

Align Your eLearning Strategy with Key Business Goals
Once you have your key business goals identified, check if training can really help meet them. The next question would be to ask if eLearning is the most effective way to address the training need. If the answer is yes, you can now link your learning outcomes to your business outcomes. This step is important to keep your eLearning on track.

Develop an Effective Business Case for eLearning
First assess the current learning capability of your organization. This will require an estimation of the total spend on learning currently. Get the real picture of all training related costs. This is important for you to develop your business case – unless you demonstrate what the eLearning initiative can do in terms of reduced costs and maximizing business impact, it is unlikely that you will get stakeholder buy-in.

Factor for one-time Costs and Initial Investments
Because eLearning requires IT infrastructure support, there may be a sizeable initial cost on IT architecture. To get approvals, you need to demonstrate how soon this investment can be recovered once elearning solutions are deployed to meet business needs. You need to demonstrate how soon eLearning will begin to pay for itself.

Show Business Impact
The task of implementing eLearning may seem a bit overwhelming especially since it has so much scope and potential. Reach out for the low hanging fruit initially. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Keep the scope narrow to a limited number of initiatives. Once you can demonstrate effectiveness and tangible ways in which eLearning helps meet a few simple goals, it will add to your business case for widening the scope and reach of your next phase of eLearning.

Let the Numbers Speak
Metrics matter. Identify those parts of your strategy that prove an ROI. If you cannot demonstrate this, leadership will not be able to support your eLearning initiative in the long run.

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Written By

Shalini Merugu, Director Learning Advocacy

Tags: eLearning Implementation
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4 comments on “Quick Tips for Developing a Winning eLearning Strategy
  1. Keith Tyler-Smith says:

    Any eLearning stategy must start with the needs of the learners and what will work best in providing the most effective learning solution for their situation and context. However in many instances the reasons, cirumstances and/or ambitions that drive the need for an elearning strategy are often based on more pragmatic or even ego driven considerations.

    A big driver is the notion of access for learners outside the immediate student catchment area. This is often tied to the need to increase numbers and thus funding. Competitive advantage is also something that comes into the equation, especialy where competition is offering the convenience and ability to study while still being employed is a major consideration for the learner.

    Another driver is where correspondence based distance delivery is seen as being too passive, lacking in interaction and needing to provide richer resources and materials. Cost can also be a factor where the cost of printing and updating materials is seen as unsustainable.

    Unfortunately, often times the reason to get into elearning is driven by the seductiveness of the technology and the wish to be seen as modern,up with the play and attractive to hip young people who are enamoured with technical gizmos – what Marc Parensky labelled as “Digital Natives”. This may well stand as the “eLearning strategy”, but in reality it is no strategy at all.

    I believe that any half decent eLearning strategy has to do with how it can support learners to achieve their learning goals in the most effective way possible. If this requires the use of eLearning technology then this is what needs to be addressed.

    There will be a lot of contributing reasons and factors that feed into this determination but the core reason has to be how it benefits the learner first and foremost.

  2. Devising an eLearning strategy always starts with a learning strategy that supports your primary business drivers. If you are non-profit, then it’s mission, but it amounts to the same thing… What are you changing, and how do people need to change in order to achieve that?

    The way I look at it, learning is fundamentally a change in the identity, whether small or large, of the learner. I used to be unskilled, now I am skilled. I was before unqualified, now I am qualified. I think of myself differently as result of my learning because I am in fact different as a result of my learning. To develop an eLearning strategy, you have to ask who is changing, and into what? That’s your learning strategy. Once you have a learning strategy in support of your mission, then you can determine your eLearning strategy. How can I employ technology to do a part, most, or all of this? How will my investment in it be returned? At this point it becomes tactical.

    That’s how I think about those first steps. Hope that helps!

  3. M Shalini says:

    Keith and Bryan, thanks for sharing your insights. I think we all agree that eLearning, as with any other form of training, has to be about equipping a learner to do his job better, in turn enabling him/her to contribute towards meeting organizational goals. And as both of you have rightly pointed out, technology is an enabler, not a driver. Keith, I agree with you that technological glitz is no substitute for poor content. We’ve all experienced it at some point or the other – some have termed it the ‘Las Vegas’ style of eLearning – flashy, clever images, animated graphics and text that actually do little to aid learning.

    While the tips in this blog cover eLearning strategy from the angle of achieving business goals, Keith, I agree that we need to devise effective Instructional Strategies for eLearning to meet the needs of the learners, in their situation and context. At the end of the day, there really is no substitute for compelling content and robust instructional design in meeting the needs of the learner. You may want to check out this blog on some more thoughts on creating an effective eLearning solution: http://blog.commlabindia.com/elearning/elearning-content-and-design

    Bryan, you’ve summed up the essence of aligning learning outcomes with business outcomes very neatly! As far as eLearning strategy goes, the key, as you have stated, is to first focus on what is the learning need and how and to what extent eLearning can help meet it. And then get into the implementation details…

    Thanks!

  4. Patrick Beyrouti says:

    Decentralize the creation of digital learning objects. Every teacher should be a creator and more importantly every student. Many strategies consider the teacher as the supplier of knowledge to a central team who is supposed to create digital materials. Do not fall into this trap. All educators can create and all learners can create , it is all about populating the cloud with learning objects to be accessed and shared by ALL.

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