Digital learning during the Coronavirus crisis – Three tips for getting into sustainable e-learning

The current Coronavirus crisis has abruptly forced personnel development as well as many other economic sectors to face a different reality, in which the preferred face-to-face events are suddenly unavailable. At the same time, continuous education, coaching, et cetera, are currently more important than ever. It is out of necessity that the digital transformation of business and work processes is accelerated at an unparalleled pace. Working from home, whenever possible, has become the current standard for a vast majority of employees, including all the challenges that come with it. Furthermore, new hygiene and behavioral rules apply to protect people and slow the spread of the virus.

Based on this, e-learning, with all its facets, has received a new meaning: Digital learning units can help employees, for example, to learn about the Coronavirus, or receive support when moving and working from home. With the aid of virtual classrooms and webinars, executives, as well as coaches, can maintain contact with their employees, permitting virtual social exchange, which is particularly crucial right now. Hence, digital learning is currently experiencing a significant valorization as a result of the Coronavirus crisis.

This way, getting into e-learning becomes a success

At the same time, many companies, but also employees, will come into contact with e-learning for the first time. The present situation also forces companies that had little or no experience with digital learning to engage with this topic. Decisions that might have taken weeks or months are now concluded in a fraction of the time. Swift and unbureaucratic! Building digital learning opportunities has priority. It is crucial to integrate, in particular, employees from day one when starting or expanding e-learning measures to avoid alienation or negative perception in the long-term.

The e-learning journal contains three central measures to promote and establish e-learning in a company, and thus ensure integration goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Internet marketing and communication

Every learning opportunity is wasted if no one knows that it exists. We recommend accompanying new learning content or virtual classrooms with a marketing/communication campaign to sensitize staff to upcoming changes. The specific campaign structure can vary and differ in each company. There are a few general measures, depending on need and communication goal, that can be utilized to create a campaign, for example:

  • Periodic e-mail newsletter content
  • Video messages from personnel or, even better, executives/management
  • Testimonials from colleagues/employees
  • Webinars with management, for example, executives
  • Competitions
  • Leaflets/brochures, or similar information material explicitly created for the company

2. The role of the supervisor

Superiors have always played a significant role in the continuous education of an employee, and they are as relevant now in the context of digital learning. A personal (virtual) conversation allows management to communicate the company’s expectations and explain the advantages of digital learning opportunities but also address the fears, worries, or resistant behaviors of employees. Afterward, shared learning goals can be defined, which reflect the employees but also the companies expectations and priorities. Supervisors should also be available in case of questions or problems, which can positively affect acceptance amongst employees.

3. Creating supportive framework conditions

The company must provide the appropriate framework conditions to permit employees to avail of digital learning opportunities and achieve binding learning outcomes. A company can, for example, introduce a learning period in which each employee can freely allocate a given amount of time per week for continuous education. In theory, this permits employees to use e-learning content independently, in line with their work-related responsibilities.

The learning locations provided constitute another learning condition. In most companies, not all employees have access to a personal computer, thus making it more challenging to realize digital learning opportunities effortlessly. A personal computer is often less of an issue for employees working from home. The main potential concern here is whether employees might be unable to access the company’s learning platform from their computer at home, for example, owing to security concerns.

Furthermore, companies can benefit from providing incentives to increase motivation. Employees could be rewarded when they reach their learning goals, for example, with a canteen voucher or additional holidays. Alternatively, playful elements like high score lists and similar can be utilized.

Additional success factors

In the beginning, in particular, it is crucial to make sound decisions concerning structures/infrastructures since they will dictate the rules for the company’s daily e-learning activities for the years to come. Our reading recommendation “The Ultimate Guide for Introducing Digital Language Training in Your Company” will provide you with specific examples, additional tips, and notes needed for a successful and sustainable e-learning start.

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