There are a great many benefits to upskilling a member of your workforce. You may want to train a team member in how to manage projects according to a certain method, or you may even expect all staff members to have at least foundational knowledge of a specific framework as standard.
With certified staff, your team, department, and wider business can enjoy major improvements, including increased efficiency, collaboration, and adaptability. You can adopt management philosophies to create environments geared towards continuous improvement, and you can even see consistent growth to your ROIs.
However, investing in traditional training can have its drawbacks. Having to work with teachers will limit group sizes, while having set appointments for lessons or lectures can force employees to disrupt important work. The cost of traveling, accommodation, physical materials, and other aspects will also put off stakeholders when it comes to justifying your costs.
The best way to assuage these issues is to turn to online training, or ‘e-learning’. Rather than requiring synchronized schedules, online courses can be accessed at any time. Course assets can be downloaded for offline study, or even accessed on smartphones and tablets. With less disruptive, more efficient, and significantly cheaper training options than fully traditional equivalents, online courses have become far more popular in recent years.
That being said, training a group online can still be a serious undertaking. Whether you are planning to train a small team or an entire department, it is important to take a considered and structured approach. A training manager needs to be able to administer, assess, and shape training experiences for students, ensuring that they can access courses, along with support, as easily as possible.
Does this mean that online training is too much of a bother to be worthwhile? Absolutely not! Online training is hardly new, after all, and it has evolved to suit everything from individual learners to company-wide training programs. Market-leading e-learning providers have methods that not only alleviate these disadvantages, but also introduce new and unexpected perks!
To fully enjoy the benefits of online training for a team or department, you simply need to take the following elements into account.
The importance of the LMS
With the ease of access to cloud saving alongside online communication platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, it may seem as though finding what you need to manage an online training project will be simple. However, having to account for multiple programs can be tedious, and your approach will likely require revisions early on. More importantly, you will also need to consider future team training. If you have long term plans, will your system need to scale up or incorporate new features later on?
When you need help organizing anything online, the easiest answer is usually to find a way to manage everything from a centralized program. In the case of online training, you would select a ‘Learning Management System (LMS)’.
With different options being utilized by the best corporate training providers in the world, an LMS can offer a variety of features to help with training a team online:
- Administration – An LMS is designed to help manage online training schemes from a central location. They cover numerous functions, such as registering students, sending communications, monitoring exam success or course access rates, and so on. It can even highlight students who require additional help, as well as high-fliers to nominate for further training. While managers can typically navigate an LMS with little training, e-learning providers will usually operate them on a customer’s behalf
- Scheduling training – With an LMS, your students will not require a synchronized learning schedule. They can access courses at any time (even from mobile web-enabled devices), freeing them from ironclad appointments that will disrupt essential daily tasks. That being said, you will still need to monitor how much time they are investing in training – just one of the metrics an LMS can provide. If you have multiple employees working and studying from home, be sure to exercise tolerance when it comes to their schedule, as they may suddenly find themselves juggling additional commitments too
- Courses and topics – Creating an online course of your own is time-consuming and rarely necessary, except for training on company-specific topics such as revised policies. It is usually easier and far more efficient to purchase courses from an e-learning provider. Businesses like Good e-Learning offer highly diverse portfolios in addition to world-class LMS management services. Good e-Learning’s ‘Learning Ecosystem’ can accommodate multiple courses and topics across several languages, and can even scale up as training programs expand
- Communication – This is a key element of learning as a group, especially during situations like lockdown or extended isolation. Communicative features on an LMS can make this easier, with automated emails/ alerts, group discussions, leaderboards, and remote support often coming as standard. By investing enough time in enabling communication for your training pool, you can greatly enhance the effectiveness of the training. Group activities and shared projects can even improve collaboration and memorization
- Measuring the success of online training – Justifying the cost of online training will be a crucial early phase in your plan. How exactly do you intend to measure the benefits of training your team or department? With exam pass rates? Course access quotas? Not only can an LMS supply this information, but it can also help you understand how it translates into tangible benefits elsewhere. Tracking the progress of students can even help managers see which students need help, or which topics are causing the most trouble
- Support – An e-Learning provider will typically provide ongoing support in terms of LMS management, course help, and so on. Your LMS platform should have clear functions to enable students to contact support staff (though you should also take the time to share email addresses for sending messages outside the LMS when necessary)
Learner levels and certification paths
Before making a selection regarding training topics and certification levels, it is worth taking the time to assess the experience and backgrounds of your learners. Areas like ITSM and project management training are widely applicable across multiple industries and locations. Some employees may already be aware of specific frameworks, along with the potential they offer and even how they work. You may also have qualified practitioners on your side who can either assist with training others or proceed to higher-level qualifications themselves.
Crucially, employees may also be able to offer valuable advice on what topics or frameworks will be best suited to your requirements. They will have a clear understanding of how their current practices can be improved, as well as the effectiveness of any frameworks they have used in the past.
As employees proceed to qualify for higher levels in their certification paths, they may gain the option to diversify or specialize their training and development. For example, ITIL 4 offers intermediate modules on a variety of roles and functions, just as DevOps engineers can choose to expand their focus to security or site reliability engineering (SRE). Managers may also want to consider pursuing higher-level certification options for the sake of being able to communicate with and lead their teams effectively.
Supply the necessary equipment
Most online training courses will have minimum requirements in terms of hardware and software. If your employees lack devices with the power, memory, or connectivity to access courses and exams, it will throw a real spanner in your training program. Depending on your situation, you may need to organize a courier service to deliver equipment to employees in lockdown or isolation, or have them collect what they require from the office. Regardless, you will need to take the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of your staff.
That is not to say that e-learning courses require high-spec computers or other devices. Most of the time, they can be accessed on virtually any web-enabled device, including mobile phones and tablets. Good e-Learning courses, for example, can be accessed via the free Go.Learn app. In other words, there is no need to rush out a replacement for one piece of hardware when your employee may be able to use another one just fine.
It is also important to prepare for the fact that many practice and certification exams require additional hardware, such as webcams or microphones. They will also need reliable connectivity. Exam providers like PeopleCert supply free tests to let students know if what they have is adequate, though it is crucial that they do so well in advance of their certification exams.
Bespoke e-learning experiences
Choosing the best LMS is not simply a matter of finding one that happens to suit your requirements. Many e-Learning providers can create unique learning experiences with bespoke courses and LMS features. Good e-Learning, for example, is a value-added reseller for the Docebo LMS and can produce systems specifically designed for individual learning programs.
An LMS can also allow you to deliver bespoke e-learning experiences for students. The metrics tracked by your LMS will help you highlight students who are performing poorly and require extra help. You may even find high-flying candidates for further training. You will also be able to observe how students deal with specific exams and topics, as well as how well they react to different types of training exercises. Finally, the presence of support staff will ensure that your students can have their unique questions answered without any issues, even if they are one student among hundreds.
While this bespoke approach can take time, there can be numerous benefits. For example, you could drive exam success rates by requiring students to demonstrate a certain level of knowledge and competency before allowing them to be issued an exam voucher. It is also worth remembering that students tend to learn at different rates and will often thrive with different approaches. The more bespoke you can be in your training management style, the more likely your students will be to succeed.
If you are reading this in 2020, you and your staff will likely have seen major disruptions and changes to the way you get things done. Working from home has become the norm, and we all know how difficult it can be to get used to such a situation at first.
In a similar vein, teams or departments may occasionally struggle when they initially get started with online training. It will be important for you to provide them with the support they require to get up to speed with your training delivery system. You could schedule group meetings, or provide students with contact information for technical user queries. Your learning provider should also have documentation or FAQs for you and your training pool to reference.
Keep in mind that course access can often last anywhere between six months and two years with providers like Good e-Learning. Carefully examine the length of time that your students will have to study for their exams, as this will decide how much time your staff will need to set aside for studying each week. The more access your employees have, the less time they will need to take away from daily tasks.
To give students a greater level of engagement with their online training performance, you may want to schedule regular meetings to discuss progress. You can use this as an opportunity to firmly clarify your expectations going forward in terms of time spent studying, pass rates, exercise scores, and so on.
Speaking to an e-Learning provider
After all this, you may still be asking yourself, “is online training worth the cost?”
If you are unclear about exactly what an e-learning scheme can do to help your business, you can always talk to an online training provider. They will help you develop a clear perspective on what you want to achieve, what your options are in terms of online training management functions, and so on.
When it comes to choosing an online training provider, you will want to look out for:
- Evidence of industry awards or certifications
- A market-leading LMS (with the capacity for any features you require)
- Excellent customer reviews and feedback scores on websites like Trustpilot and Google Reviews
- Adequately long course access and exam booking periods for courses (keeping in mind how much time your team members can spare every week for training)
- A dedicated support team for technical questions and queries relating to course content
- Official accreditation for all courses
- A variety of training assets to help keep students engaged
- Practical advice from experts and practitioners
- Additional benefits like free exam vouchers or resits
- Free trial modules so you and your team members can provide feedback on whether the courses are suited to your training requirements
- A diverse portfolio on your chosen subject areas