Think online – eLearning works!
The 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic has impacted most businesses, particularly SMEs in the service industry. Many had to re-think their whole business just to survive. Yet, the radical change to our norm imposed by COVID-19 related measures forced us to change so many of our daily routines at work and at home. We learned how to adapt to the new realities and adjusted to the new personal and business routines. One of the sectors which experienced tremendous growth during this period was the elearning sector. At this point, it is worth noting two very important factors. First and foremost elearning is not effective for all ages and all subjects. Clearly, providing elearning solutions to primary school students is totally different to providing elearning solutions to adult learners. Young learners find it difficult to concentrate to follow the online learning objects and often require on-site personal interaction to keep them motivated and open to learning. Adult learners generally have more motivation and maturity to follow online learning programmes an even before the onset of COVID-19 elearning for adult learning was growing at a fast pace. Elearning provides huge potential for businesses that recognise the realities of international competition in the knowledge economy. The knowledge economy relies on the expertise and know-how of the team and the manner in which that team can leverage these critical resources to add value to their clients and the customers of their clients. The knowledge economy brings home the reality of requiring on-going investment in the training and development of staff. The key word is investment. Rather than seeing training and development as a cost, organisations need to commit to an ongoing investment in the development of what is one of their most important resources – people.
SMEs in particular, need to recognise the manner in which they can use elearning as a platform for the development and implementation of ongoing programmes in staff training or development. SMEs need to appreciate that today’s technologies allow for the operation of very effective online training programmes at very cost effective investments. SMEs need to understand the importance of making trainers out of each and every manager and supervisor. To adopt a company-wide training and development programme, this needs to be top down, starting off with the most senior executives that need to be involved in the training activities and as trainers demonstrating the importance of sharing knowledge and expertise within the organisation. These senior executives require train-the-trainer support so that they can develop their own training capabilities and act as trainers to their subordinates who will also be trained as trainers to provide support to front line staff.
Effective elearning programmes combine both self-learning elements and collaborative learning elements. SMEs seeking to gain competitive advantage through the upskilling of their workforce need to select an elearning platform that allows for such combination of learning tools. They need to include both internal and external experts to develop the elearning content. Consequently, they need to budget for the development of the content which is an on-going investment and usually is the major cost to such a programme. The technology costs and support also need to be taken into account, and ideally SMEs seek software-as-a-service platforms that provide a one-stop shop and all the tech support required allowing the SME to focus on the content development and delivery.
Elearning provides cost-savings since it allows the SME to capture the core skills and competences and present these in a manner that ensures the upskilling of the workforce. It provides resource optimization since it enables SMEs to develop elearning programmes that combine internal experitces and know-how with that of external specialists which can be captured and stored as self-learning content. eLearning provides flexibility in training and teachings since the elearning platform can service as the framework for mentoring and monitoring of trainees ensuring that live-video-conference follow-up sessions on a one-to-one or group basis are held as often as required and are recorded and stored on the platform for further study and analysis. eLearning provides time-saving solutions as it enables users to study when and where they are able to. SMEs need to use elearning platforms that are mobile compatible to ensure that full mobile access is provided thus extending the learning time of staff.
Restaurants, hotels, garages, pharmacies, beauty salons, offices, factories and so many other categories of business can benefit from investment in elearning. Rather than building strategies based on poaching of staff, elearning allows SMEs to build on strategies based on the training and development of staff, improving staff retention and effectiveness. Elearning must not be seen as an isolated plug in activity, on the contrary it must be implemented in a holistic manner to enable the SME to be more people oriented and focused on the continued delivery of higher standards of performance.
eBusiness Systems offers SMEs eBLearn Share, a software as a service solution that provides full elearning functionality on a shared platform. This cost effective solution, means that SMEs do not have to invest in the setting up and maintenance of a dedicated elearning solution. Instead, they can share the www.eBLearn.net platform and have their own elearning pages available to their user groups. In this way, SMEs get practically all the benefits of a dedicated system at a very cost affordable rates. The main difference between the dedicated system and shared platform is the reduced amount of customisation options available on the shared platform. Other than that, there is the full functionality of the eBLearn, complete with all self-learning and collaborative tools and services.
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