At the end of summer 2014, I decided to enter the eLearning industry. What I saw back then was a growth industry with an amazing upside, offering digital solutions to both legacy and new business challenges. I saw big name software and great development styles like gamification and mobile apps. The potential was huge, and for a digital native like me, the decision to join the industry was an easy one to make. Now, with almost two months under my belt to reflect on, I wanted to take the time to share some of my first impressions as an industry insider in the hopes of giving veterans a ‘fresh eye’ perspective.
I am impressed with the infrastructure and technology that is out there to support the development and delivery of eLearning programs. LMS cloud platforms are a clear counterpart to the CRM, ERP and POS systems that are so heavily used, and they certainly offer a similarly well-refined user experience and measurable process improvement benefits. The authoring tools and development software seem to provide great ease of use for developers, and from what I understand, the majority are able to output consistently high quality eLearning programs with minimal technical difficulty.
What I have also noticed is that an increasing number of organizations know and understand the importance of incorporating new technology into their eLearning programs. As a result, they are tracking the metrics on mobile device usage, fostering BYOD (bring your own device) work environments, and they know how compelling the arguments are for mobile-ready modules. They understand that better learner engagement produces better learner outcomes, so there are clear benefits to tapping into the environment that they spend the most time engaged in.
Many organizations are incorporating gamification and simulation activities into their programs because these approaches produce measurably better learner outcomes. They have read the studies, as I have, that indicate a direct correlation between more engaging learning programs and big gains in both employee productivity and retention rates. They know that the ROI is already there and are making the investment accordingly.
What I have also observed are more and more organizations pushing for higher quality eLearning content. There are clear, competitive advantages for organizations that find new ways to train and develop their employees, and these organizations see their eLearning programs as the means to delivering that advantage. They are asking their eLearning developers to champion bigger and better ideas and their learning managers to be more willing to incorporate these powerful new approaches.
So, after two months, I continue to observe a growth industry with an amazing upside. But now as I look out over the current landscape, there is a glimpse of the future which excites me. This glimpse involves incorporating even newer technology into existing learning approaches, providing increased effectiveness and reducing training times even further. I see us going beyond mobile to wearable technology learning, using products like Google Glass to incorporate augmented reality into hands-on training programs. I foresee using machine learning as virtual tutors further personalize the learning experience. In general, I see the industry adopting an increasingly advanced level of technology to more effectively solve its learning and training needs, and I think learners will embrace that change. Most importantly, what I’ve witnessed are organizations putting more and more value into developing their employees’ growth using eLearning, and that’s a great thing whether you are a fresh eye like me or a seasoned veteran of the industry.