Business lessons from the new learning boom: top 10 tips for creating an effective e-learning program

E-learning, with 23% annual growth, is education’s fastest-growing segment

Why e-learning?

A friend’s son recently explained his enthusiasm for Kahn Academy, a leading free online learning platform for high school students, saying that in traditional school he was never able to “pause and rewind” his teacher. This single virtue of e-learning made us rethink our own preconceived notions about the “inefficiency of those new, mechanized, technology-based learning methods.”

E-learning can be done anywhere and any time. It is more cost-efficient and, according to some studies, even more effective in improving learning. With the Internet’s ever-growing penetration, more people have easy access to education and training worldwide.

Where is e-learning going?

According to BBC’s World Business Report, the global education market is going to grow to $6.3 trillion by 2017 from $5 trillion today. Meanwhile, e-learning, with 23% annual growth, is education’s fastest-growing segment.

So even though e-learning has been around in one form or other for a few decades, it currently constitutes only 2% of the overall education market. That leaves the door open to kick-start the real online learning revolution.

Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford University professor and the founder of Udacity.com, believes that “50 years from now, there will be only 10 institutions in the whole world that deliver higher education.”

More academic institutions understand this new reality and now offer a wide range of courses online. Similarly, more and more business are starting to recognize the opportunity: they are now doing online training for their employees or customers.

Where can I go to take online training or education?

Here are a few e-learning resources on various subjects for you or your employees:

•Lynda.com (www.lynda.com), a platform for online learning with thousands of videos on various web design and development subjects;

•Kahn Academy (www. kahnacademy.org), free online courses in various subjects, mostly at the high school level, best known for its free math courses and learning tracking platform;

•Udacity (www.udacity.com), free online courses in various subjects, mostly at the university level;

•Coursera (www.coursera.com), joint effort of many major universities to offer free online courses;

•MyKison.com (www.mykison.com), Vancouver’s own online sales training offered by Kison Inc.; and

•Ivan’s own online business and technology training programs with iPower Lab (www.ipowerlab.com).

What are your tips for creating an effective e-learning platform for our employees?

Here are our top 10 tips:

1. Don’t just upload your resources online; make sure to structure the training as a step-by-step or week-by week program.

2. Make it personal: personally welcome the participants, offer your personal answers, advice and insights, etc.

3. Be clear with the goals of your training so the person taking the course knows why the training is important; this will also help you measure the effectiveness of your program.

4. Create assignments and/or tests for participants at the end of each training module.

5. Combine online and offline training whenever possible; stay in personal touch with all trainees.

6. Combine your existing resources with other external online resources.

7. Offer a certificate of completed training at the end of the program; offer special incentives for the most successful participants.

8. Enable communication among participants through chat or forums.

9. Follow up after the training.

10. The nice thing about online training is that it only gets better with time. That said, don’t forget to perfect your training and keep it alive by constantly adding content, videos, tips and other resources. •