9 Ways You Can Boost eLearning Usage

9 Ways You Can Boost eLearning Usage
Summary: If you buy a great LMS and load it with great content, your learners will take courses. Maybe. Maybe not. There are 9 actions a training and development leader can do to boost eLearning courseware usage.

How To Boost eLearning Usage

"Build it, and they will come". Kevin Costner had faith that if he built a baseball diamond in his cornfield, great baseball players from the past would come and play. He had confidence that his efforts to build a baseball field, spectator benches, extensive lighting for night games, and not to mention the lost revenue from plowing under his crops, would be worth it.

Is this how we, training and development professionals, approach eLearning? Do we sometimes approach it with the confidence that Kevin Costner had—if we buy a great LMS and load it with great, award-winning courses, our learners will use it? And then, are we disappointed when generally speaking, there is low course usage? If you have ever been here, there are a number of things you can do.

Looking at the research, we find there are 6 reasons learners do not use the eLearning courses provided to help the learner develop. Here they are:

  1. The courses are old and boring
  2. They don’t have time
  3. Courses take too long to complete
  4. It is inconvenient to take courses on their laptop
  5. They don’t know about them
  6. They do not know or see the linkage for how the courses can help them be more successful in their current job, for professional development, and for advancement. They don’t know or understand the "What’s in for me?" (WIIFM)

Don’t despair! As a Learning and Development leader, you can make a significant impact on eLearning usage. There are 9 things you can do. If you don’t have time to do them all (and who does!?) pick the right combination that will meet your needs.

1. First And Foremost—Make Sure You Select The Best Courses Available

The number one reason learners disengage with courses is that they are boring, they are out of date, and are a series of PowerPoints. Make sure the courses you choose areas up to date as possible, as well as award-winning courseware. This way, if your learner launches a course, they will be engaged and more likely to continue consuming additional eLearning courseware.

2. Select Mobile Responsive Courses

More and more, your learners want to take courses where and when they want. Make sure the courses you select will run on all hand-held devices. But make sure they don’t just run on all hand-held devices, make sure the mobile learning experience is just as good as the experience with their favorite mobile app. Make sure the courses have a responsive design and respond to screen size and screen orientation.

3. Look For Microlearning Courses

Research shows that learners want and are more successful with short, bite-sized learning opportunities. Microlearning courses provide the opportunity for learners to get the information and training they need when they need it while providing the right amount of information they can immediately and successfully use at work.

4. Promote Your Courses

While Kevin Costner did not promote his Field of Dreams, you will have to promote the availability of the courses. There are many opportunities to do this. Here is a short list of ways to promote the courses to your learners:

  • Email/text announcements
  • Employee newsletters
  • Company Intranet
  • Company social media sites
  • Use videos in any of these communication venues

5. Seek Testimonials From Your Internal Promoters And Influencers

Get short sound bites (better if these sound bites are short videos) from your internal promoters and influencers commenting on what courseware is available, what courses they took, the benefits of these courses, what they liked about them, how they see the courses as beneficial to their personal and professional development, etc. Feature these sound bites/videos as you promote your courses.

6. Get Leadership Sponsorship

Have a senior leader talk about the importance of development, why the company is investing in developing their employees, the benefits for the company and the benefits for employees. Get your leader on vide,  and use these key messages in your promotion of your eLearning courses.

7. Offer Rewards And Recognition For Completing Courses

There are many ways companies can recognize and reward learners for completing courses. Some are public and others are more private. Here are a few examples:

  • Some companies offer company giveaways for course completions. The more courses the learner completes, the more points the learner earns. The more points the learner has, the more goods/products the learner can "purchase" or the higher priced goods the learner can purchase with their points.
  • Other companies, utilizing the functionality of their LMS, use a "leaderboard" showing the person that has completed the most eLearning courses.
  • Other companies offer certificates of completion that the learner can download after successful course completion.
  • Others utilize the functionality of the LMS and once the learner completes a course, an email is sent to the person’s manager/leader. The manager/leader can then talk to the person about the course, what he/she learned, how he/she is applying the course to their job, etc. Manager recognition of the learner’s commitment to professional development will reinforce development.
  • In some companies, leaders and managers talk about development achievements in team meetings to reinforce development, recognize the learners, and to create a culture that encourages and rewards development.

The next 2 are more strategic and because of that, they will take longer to implement. The effort will be rewarded as they are going to be far more effective and impactful to the organization. They are well worth the additional effort!

8. Link Development Plans And eLearning Courseware And Create Accountability

In a development discussion, the employee and manager may identify a number of skills and competencies for the employee to develop. Identify courseware the employee can use to build the skills or competencies. By doing this you are baking in eLearning usage. If your company completes employee annual performance reviews and development plans at the same time, make sure you promote the eLearning courses using some of the suggestions listed previously as employees and managers are preparing the reviews.

9. Link Organizational Objectives To Competencies And Competencies To Development Resources Including eLearning Courses

Communicate the linkage. Once employees see the link between their performance, their team’s performance to overall company objectives, they will want to develop. This is especially true for your highly motivated employees and high potentials.

Boasting eLearning courseware usage is possible with some of the insights provided above. Start with the first by selecting the best quality courseware possible, and select one other action to take when launching the courses to your learners. Build on with other strategies as your time permits.