OK so online learning isn’t new the technology to be able to deliver lessons via a computer has been around for some time. However, there is a bigger shift going on and it is less around the tech, although that does play a part, and more around the needs of employees, business owners and how we choose to learn as people.
The Old Way
In the fairly recent mists of time training and learning was pretty much only delivered in the class room or training room at work. This went for almost everything even learning an instrument. Learning materials went from books, to books and tapes, videos, CDs, DVDs and eventually online lessons but much of the tech architecture was expensive and not something easily developed. This meant people had to pay a lot to learn anything and businesses had to pay trainers or software companies lots of money to get training material for their staff.
Part of the revolution has been because of YouTube. While there was and still isn’t any real barrier for content quality people were able to watch tutorials and even videos of lectures and the like. This has proved to be a huge resource and very helpful to a lot of people but it can be lacking in quality and due to adverts and the temptation to watch a video of people falling over that the algorithm suggests it is not always idea.
The New Way
As the demand for easily accessible online learning has grown so has the software options and the way other people can creatively use video channels like YouTube and Vimeo while keeping people on their site. Companies like www.perfectlyspoken.com use dedicated video learning platforms for deliver free online English lessons. It is this type of platform that is really pushing online learning into the future. People are now seeing they can not only watch lessons online as they have done for a while but they can chart their progress, complete lessons, complete courses and even gain qualifications with no human input apart from the creation of the original content…and this is a game changer.
Applications for Business
The potential for business is huge. Imagine a manager in an employee review meeting discussing how someone might need to improve their coding abilities, English skills or customer service skills. This is often a difficult moment, the choice about spending money on a trainer or asking the employee to go away and learn in their own time. Well with online learning said manager can do some research and simply set the staff member on a course towards learning what they need. Of course, they are not all free but most offer the chance to use it for multiple staff members for a single price.
More Benefits for Business
As well as the obvious benefits of low cost and easy learning opportunities for staff online learning also offers discretion. Sometimes staff feel awkward about getting training and online courses allow them to learn without anyone knowing. The change curve then becomes less of an issue the denial stage is reduced, the anger phase should be removed and the leap to engagement and acceptance will be a lot faster. Other benefits include people finishing a course and feeling inspired to move onto the next stage; thus leaving the manager with a member of staff who is driving their own learning!
One very strong factor where online learning will become more and more important is language learning. As mentioned earlier on there are free online English courses but also the same will exist in other countries. As people become more global and move to different countries to work businesses will be able to take advantage of these and offer native language lessons to foreign staff. This kind of learning can help integrate people faster and improve productivity while also reducing any issue surrounding languages.
With all the benefits of the learning itself it is worth looking at the final huge reason online learning will be the future for so many businesses; Device flexibility! Not only can people learn in private and at their own pace, but they can do so on mobile phones, tablets, lap tops and in the work place on desktop PCs. This is great for busy lives and it allows people to learn faster not being constrained buy desk time. They can learn on the train, in bed, outside…the options are endless and that can only increase course completion and success.
What Should Business Owners Do?
In short, start researching and planning the use of online learning. Identify learning gaps and the needs of different staff groups and consider moving ahead with either paid for access or free trials to test the learning platforms.
Whether it be for language, business skills, HR, basic maths, or even sales skills there will be a course out there. If there isn’t, it will appear sooner rather than later. Any business ready for this will be able to bring cheap, accessible and quality training to their workforce and that can only be a good thing.