Too many companies invest significantly in e-learning programmes but fail to give enough thought to how to really make them work and are subsequently disappointed with the results. Traditionally, e-learning implementation plans have focussed on technical issues, however, it is the human element that will dictate success or failure. Hardware can always be upgraded, but perceptions are more difficult to alter.
Experience has shown that in order for e-learning to succeed and for it to become fully integrated into the organisation the training must have a high profile and make an impact right from the start. A full internal marketing campaign is required to ensure high levels of take up and completion rates.
It is essential that the benefits of e-learning are communicated to all. Each audience much be targeted with messages specific to them as the benefits of e-learning will vary depending on job role. For example, a sales director will be motivated by the prospect of a more competent salesforce, while a training manager will benefit from being able to effectively deliver training to a large number of people and calculate return on investment easily and clearly.
Below are just some of a number of steps that can be taken to start e-learners learning:
• Create an identity for e-learning. It is very important for motivation and marketing that the initiative has clear branding and identity, whether it be a logo, image or name, to raise the profile and perceived value of the programme. The more recognition and status e-learning can acquire, the more valuable will be the courses and certificates.
• Obtain visible senior sponsorship. For e-learning to be seen as an important tool for the business, support must come from the top. Persuade a high profile, senior member of the organisation, preferably the managing director, to complete a course and make a highly motivational comment about the experience, talking positively about its value to everyone. The business is likely to take e-learning more seriously with this visible endorsement.
• Hold a launch event. Such events are valuable for generating excitement and interest around e-learning and also give the opportunity for hands-on sessions and registration in a supported environment.
• Develop an infomercial. This is a one-off piece of marketing collateral that can be used via email, the Intranet and public display units highlighting the e-learning opportunities available within the organisation and the benefits of learning in this way.
• Attach a loyalty/”air mile” scheme to the courses. The learner accrues points for courses completed which can be exchanged for goods or vouchers.
• Talk to the learners and find out what they think are the real benefits to them of e-learning. These messages can then be publicised, particularly any success stories, for example, someone achieving promotion as a result of skills acquired through e-learning.