Learning & Development

Mar 17, 2022 11 min read

e-learning a practitioner's take- Part 2

The author has an experience of 20 years in IT and HR. His work straddles across Competency based HR and Data driven HR. He is a passionate ultra-cyclist and a wannabe IRONMAN and can be often found cycling on the dusty highways of north India.

This is the 2nd article in eLearning series.

In the last couple of years since the onset of the pandemic, more and more organizations have looked at eLearning to rapidly upskill and reskill their workforce. While prima facie, eLearning may tick all the proverbial check boxes, execution of a successful eLearning project is equally challenging. This article is an attempt to give the readers a hand on view of the various nuances that an executing team should bear in mind while executing an eLearning project.

  • Adoption Strategy

Worldwide the implementations of eLearning have failed not in the implantation phase but in the adoption phase. Indeed the real journey of any eLearning project actually starts post implementation. Hence post implementation a sound adoption strategy has to be put in place. An indicative adoption strategy consisting of 3 main pillars is suggested below:

  • Face to Face.

  • On the LMS

  • Virtual Remote

  • Face to Face: Large organisations should follow “Train The Trainer” (TTT) approach. The user group should be segmented into 2 categories.


Learning champions are those selected users who are tech-savvy, have a high span of control and would be ready to espouse the gospel of eLearning in their respective locations. While choosing learning champions, organizations should ensure that all the functions as well as all geographical locations are sufficiently covered. The learning champions would be invited for a detailed workshop in which they should be exposed to the content creation process, the vetting process, cloud computing basics and finally the LMS and its associated functionalities. Rest of the user group would not be exposed to this level of detail but would be guided how best to use the LMS portal and the mobile app. The learning champions should then take the lead in explaining the fine nitty gritties of the project to the end users.

  • On the LMS: Gamification will be the core catalyst for change and will drive short term and long term behaviour. Gamification in the simplest terms means use of gaming techniques to improve the user engagement of any software or training tool. It leverages the basic human instinct of mastering any skill, achieving an aspirational esteem level, surpassing one’s own performance or surpassing colleagues and peers in any given skill set. Points, Badges, Leaderboards, Performance Graphs, Meaningful Stories and Avatars are some very useful gamification constructs which can be leveraged to drive adoption.

  • Virtual Remote: In this pillar learners will be engaged through various communication vehicles. A 2W (What, why) analysis of the communication vehicles is given below:

  • Implementation model of LMS

Any of the following 3 models can be adopted for implementing the LMS. Each model had its own pros and cons. Let’s take a look at each of them.

  • On-premise implementation: In this model of implementation the hardware as well as software would be completely owned by the organization and would be physically housed in the data centers of the organization. The LMS application would be installed on the hardware. While this option is cost effective, the hardware procurement time could prove to be a bottleneck. Further capacity augmentation in case of increase in number of users would be organization’s responsibility. In addition the maintenance and administration of the hardware would be the organization’s responsibility. However this implementation model would be the best from the cybersecurity point of view since the data is housed completely within the internal network.

  • Private Cloud implementation: In this model the LMS provider would install his own hardware in the organization’s data centre. The LMS would be installed on the hardware owned by the LMS provider and the third party would take responsibility for the maintenance and administration. While this model is not cost effective but the administration and maintenance is easier and it provides the same cyber security assurances as an on-premise implementation model.

  • Public Cloud implementation: In this model the hardware as well as software would be housed externally on the premises of the LMS provider. Neither the hardware nor the software would be owned by the organization. This option gives the fastest implementation speed, gives flexibility of ramp up in case the user load increases in the future as well as frees the organization from the routine maintenance and administration activities. However this option has some concerns regarding data security and privacy since the data physically resides outside the organization.

A comparative analysis of all the implementation models is presented below:

Parameter

On-Premise

Private Cloud

Public Cloud

Total cost of ownership

Speed of implementation

Flexibility of scale up in case of increase in user base in the future

Ease of administration and maintenance

Data security and privacy

Precedence of earlier initiatives

Availability of the best of breed LMS

The public cloud implementation model is very tempting except the data security and privacy issues surrounding the implementation model. These issues become even more important when the organization is a PSU. The data security could be tackled by answering the following questions:

  • Whether the data related to the LMS residing in cloud was of a sensitive nature?

  • Whether the LMS provider is ready to give sufficient guarantees acceptable to the cyber security team of the organization?

  • Challenges galore !!

Let us take a look at the challenges, their potential for disruption and the mitigation plan. The challenges have been arranged in the decreasing order of importance. The order of importance has been derived based on the author’s own experience, own opinion and that of the associated stakeholders.

  • User adoption and retention of learner interest: By far this is the most important challenge. After the initial euphoria, the novelty factor may die down. The sustenance of the system would be ensured if adequate learner interest is maintained. The adoption would work in 2 stages. Initially the success would be determined simply by the number of users onboarded. This is the easy part but the difficult part would be to ensure that learners are actually using the system and learning is happening.

    • Potential for disruption: The potential for disruption of this challenge is very high.

    • Mitigation Plan: Once enough content is available on the LMS, management should base technical assessments on the learner’s performance in the LMS.

  • Quality of the learning content: This is another important challenge. The quality of the content would impact the learner engagement. Quality of the content would be a function of either the wrong choice of subject matter expert (SME) or the non-availability of a particular expertise in a particular function.

    • Potential for disruption: The potential for disruption of this challenge is also very high.

    • Mitigation plan: The mitigation plan should include inclusion of external experts for content creation in areas where requisite expertise is not available in-house. Off the shelf content available with vendors like Skillsoft can also be considered provided it meets organization’s requirement. However off the shelf content may pose some technical integration issues. Quality of SMEs should also be monitored and newer ones brought into the fold to bring in fresh ideas and new perspectives.

  • SME motivation and functional nodal officer (FNO) motivation: This factor would also impact the quality of content creation. Drop in SME and FNO motivation would impact both the quality and the speed of creation of learning content. They may view creation of learning content as an added responsibility giving them no additional returns.

    • Potential for disruption: Potential for disruption of this challenge is high.

    • Mitigation plan: Some incentive plan should be institutionalised for SME and FNO motivation. A qualification criteria should also be formalised on the basis of the ratings given to the courses authored by them. With time enough data will be available for creating a ranking of some sort. But to start off with, the organization should award the SMEs and FNOs with appreciation letters or mementos which would add to their social esteem. At some point, the organization can also experiment with full time SMEs on a tenure basis.

  • Governance mechanism for content creation: This involves setting in place guidelines defining the value chain of module creation, subsequent content validation periodicity as well as approving levels.

    • Potential for disruption: Potential for disruption of this challenge can at best be termed.

    • Mitigation plan: A workflow application should be put in place with automated reminders and clear reporting so that L&D is freed of the mundane and non-productive task of following up with SMEs for timely updation of learning content.

  • Conclusion

For organizations deciding to implement eLearning, the road ahead is pregnant with both opportunities as well as challenges. eLearning is one of those typical tech enabled HR initiatives which when executed well will give rich dividends or else will just end up becoming a white elephant. I believe this article has given a roadmap for successful implementation of eLearning in large organizations.

References:

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  11. https://www.learnupon.com/blog/what-is-elearning/

 

     

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