In part one of our four-part blog, Organizational Concerns Regarding E-learning, we began looking at the concerns that many companies and individuals still focus on regarding the industry of E-learning. What was discovered was that course cost and time factors were two issues that topped the list. We also found that with today’s technology-driven, quality E-learning, these fears are largely unfounded.
In this second installment we will examine two more variables of E-learning that prove to be troublesome to some individuals in the workforce at large. They are interconnected and both somewhat worrisome in our contemporary workplace. Technology, or rather the lack thereof seems to be the issue at hand.
Employee Tech I.Q.
The first point was expressed by a little over 30% of companies involved in a Static8 study and related directly to the amount of technical proficiency that would be required of their employees in order to successfully navigate an E-learning program.
Now it is very true that online learning comes in many forms representing a wide variety of technical depth. Some courses are little more than digital job-aids – electronic reference manuals if you will. These require only enough tech knowhow to turn the computer on and press the “next” button to advance through the pages. Pretty basic stuff, but conceivably still too much for those among us who have little or no experience interacting with computers.
Then there are online learning’s more technically developed programs that employ medium to high amounts of interactivity into their design. The interactivity strategies can include such advanced learning technologies as scenario role playing, digital characterization and gamification. Regardless of what approach is used, all learning technologies are designed to engage your employees in the course material by actively involving them in the learning process. This then functions to ensure learner knowledge retention and subsequent job performance improvement – which is the driving force behind training in the first place.
The problem here is obviously if you have employees are not technically savvy, they will not benefit from all of the tools within the course. One solution that some organizations have opted to use is to host an orienteering symposium prior to the introduction of the online training. This ensures that employees are familiar with the nature of the E-learning before they face it solo. Some of these same companies also came up with the solution of offering employee assistance either online or for the less technically-minded, through a help line or help desk where they could actually speak to a real person.
Another method to offer guidance to learners who are not comfortable with computer use is to build coaching directly into the program. A very effective formula for assistance in guiding the user through course material is to employ digital characterization. This is where an avatar is utilized to provide helpful guidance at certain critical points in the E-learning course.
In some cases, the coaching figure can remain “by the learner’s side” throughout the entirety of the course offering assistance and problem solving help to those that need the extra push. According to learning guru Paul Levinson, author of The Soft Edge this type of learning can be especially useful to individuals who may be coping with disabilities.
The bottom line when addressing lack of tech experience with your employees is that there is only so much that can be done for people in this day and age who do not engage as much with technology. Computers are everywhere and it seems difficult to imagine how anyone can move through their daily routine without being exposed to them, but it apparently happens more often than expected.
A sizable portion of this group are part of the Baby Boomer generation. Taking into account that with the help of Generation X and Millennials, both of whom are far more familiar with computers and much more cognizant of continually developing technology, this is a problem that may simply solve itself.
Lack of Workplace Tech Culture
The second area under question is also concerned with technology and in many ways, is directly responsible for the situation covered just above. It is the lack of a technologically supportive culture throughout some organizations. Again, like the individual, it is almost impossible to conceive how a business can survive in today’s market with little or no technical proficiency. But apparently some of them do. If employees are not encouraged to become computer-literate by the operational ethos of their company and co-workers, they can sure not be expected to be comfortable learning on a device they are unfamiliar with.
With the level of technology that our workforce experiences on a regular basis and the urgent need to keep up with new tech developments in order to achieve business success, this problem like its predecessor, will also most likely work itself out. Companies that fail to change with the times in order to maintain parity with their competition will simply be eliminated from the food chain through a process of natural selection.
Technology is driving us into the future and in the industry of training, high quality E-learning that is custom tailored to employees, companies and specific industries is set to lead the way in the years ahead. It is time for the cynical nay-sayers that constantly use the same time-worn arguments against E-learning to get with the technology program and pull themselves into the twenty-first century with the rest of us.