Are You Doing This? 5 Essential Steps To eLearning Implementation

Essential Steps To Successful eLearning Implementation

“With the best of intentions you toss me a lifeline. Failing to see how a piece of rope will do me any good, I ignore it and drown.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich

eLearning project failure is not just a matter of losing money, time, and effort – employers and those directly concerned with the project are left with a bitter aftertaste of loss, frustration, and low morale. eLearning projects fail due to several reasons, but they can all be traced back to one root cause: Failure to implement eLearning properly. eLearning implementation involves following ALL of the 5 essential steps of eLearning implementation.

5 essential steps of eLearning implementation

1. eLearning Readiness

Organizations fail when they delve into eLearning without first analyzing if they are ready for it. Both the organization as well as employees must be "ready" for eLearning. A detailed analysis of an organization’s "eLearning readiness" will enable the organization take measures to ensure optimum success. According to Samantha Chapnick, creator of Research Dog’s eLearning Readiness Assessment, there are 7 critical areas of eLearning readiness that your organization must consider before the implementation process begins. These are:

  • Psychological readiness.
  • Social readiness.
  • Environmental readiness.
  • Human resource readiness.
  • Technological readiness.
  • Financial readiness.
  • Content readiness.

2. Make A Business Case

Your eLearning initiative must be spearheaded by an "eLearning champion" from within your organization’s top management to encourage and nudge the venture along the way. Before embarking on an eLearning project, a business proposal will have to be made to convince decision makers that an investment in eLearning will be worthwhile – once again, to be accomplished by the eLearning champion. This will be a large detailed document for a large corporation, but even if you are a Subject Matter Expert, the same process applies.

Your business case document should set out in detail:

  • Current training issues and shortcomings.
  • Advantages of the new system, how it solves the current problems.
  • Detailed costing covering planning, pre and implementation training, staff, new equipment, vendor and consultant costs, and ongoing costs.
  • Future savings accruing – there should be a comparison of the ongoing costs of doing nothing, compared to the new system.

The document should have an introduction explaining what eLearning is, and a conclusion pulling everything together in a cogent argument for the change.

3. Overcome eLearning Barriers

Introducing an eLearning system in an organization will change the way employees learn and the way the organization does business. Such a profound change will encounter barriers, and these can be summarized as follows:

  • Individual resistance to change.
    Moving from fixed, timed classroom training to computer based, anywhere, anytime learning can be daunting for some. They may find it hard to adapt to the technology, or have the discipline to learn by themselves.
  • Organizational resistance to change.
    eLearning may be viewed as something "the HR department does", whereas in reality, everyone from the top down needs to embrace and be enthusiastic. There will also be individuals who are sole holders of important information, reluctant to relinquish what they see as 'their' area of importance.
  • Technological barriers.
    Learners have to be comfortable with technology, and if not, must undergo appropriate training. There may be connectivity issues or unsuitability of the learning system itself. There may be a lack of instructional or technical backup to learners.

It is essential that a professional audit of the company is completed before an eLearning project is embarked on to identify, assess, and offer solutions to these barriers. This audit will save a lot of heartache and ensure the full benefits of the system are realized.

4. Decide Whether To Build Or Buy eLearning

To some companies, this decision will be a simple one – they don't have the resources to build, so buy is the only option. However, for companies who think they have the personnel and resources, the pros and cons include the following.

You would buy if:

  • An off-the-shelf product fully satisfies your needs.
  • You don't gamble with the risk of building your own and not knowing if it will work.
  • There are time constraints.
  • Your in-house resources are better utilized on existing work.

You would build if:

  • You have the personnel and financial resources.
  • The timescale to plan, develop, and implement is not an issue.
  • You wish to develop training unique to your organization.
  • Security is an issue.

In general, even very well resourced organizations are better off using professionals to avoid having to reinvent the wheel all over again.

5. Choose An eLearning Partner

In your business plan, you should shortlist possibly three prospective vendors. You will have investigated each vendor, and make your recommendations based on the following criteria:

  • Professionalism and qualifications of personnel.
  • Is eLearning their main business?
  • Experience – how long in the business, how many systems installed.
  • Examples of past work – include feedback obtained from referees.
  • Record of on-time completions.
  • Budget cost for each vendor.

As is the case with everything in life, cheapest is never the best, or even adequate. Time is needed to sift through vendor offerings to ensure the right choice is made. Check out the eLearning implementation guide to get a thorough understanding of how to approach, implement, and sustain eLearning in your organization.

When Author and Apple Evangelist Guy Kawasaki said, “A good idea is about 10% and implementation, hard work, and luck is 90%”, he wasn’t exaggerating; and with eLearning implementation, it’s definitely what defines the success (or failure) of your venture.

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