Preparing to Implement eLearning in Organization

Jun 15, 2017

Implementing eLearning is no easy task. A lot of preparation is necessary to make the adoption process smooth and to ensure that the new learning platform would actually be used. Here, we list a number of challenges one is likely to face when implementing eLearning. Give it a read before getting down to business, so that you’ll have a solution ready whenever a problem arises.

Overcome Employee Resistance and Psychological Barriers 

It is natural for humans to reject and resist change, and to question the value of every new approach that must be learned, which takes time and effort. If you want to reduce and neutralize this resistance in your organization, you must prepare the company’s staff psychologically before announcing any changes. 

To lay the groundwork, you must explain to your employees and peers how eLearning will benefit them personally. For example, it may help them advance their careers or provide some other opportunity. You can also argue that the knowledge and skills they will acquire could save both effort and time when performing their everyday duties.

It is very important to understand that when it comes to adopting eLearning in an organization, the technical aspects are actually the easiest part. You will have your work cut out for you breaking the psychological barriers in your employees’ and peers’ minds, overcoming their resistance to change. Fail to pay attention to this, and your chances of successfully adopting eLearning and seeing a benefit are slim.

Gain Middle Management Support

Do not begin implementing eLearning in your organization until you have secured the support of department heads. Otherwise, you can expect to face stiff resistance from them. Their staff, in turn, will be much more likely to support their direct manager than some upstart trying to make them take online courses whose benefits are unclear.

Gaining the department heads’ support is important even if you’ve already received the go-ahead from the top management. You must convince them that this new initiative will not waste their employees’ time, but will instead help them reach a new degree of productivity and efficiency. For that, we recommend preparing a presentation that would highlight the projected results of eLearning adoption.

Use concrete numbers, percentage growth rates and illustrative graphs. Make the benefits evident, and department heads will take your side - and with them, their employees. Having the support of the middle management ensures that the regular employees will take an active part in adopting eLearning in your organization.

Assemble the Implementation Team

Implementing eLearning in a company is a herculean task - but one doesn’t have to face it alone. To make eLearning adoption a reality in your organization, you will need to assemble a team of likeminded people that will help you advocate and implement your ideas. An ideal team would include employees from different departments. Pick those who are trusted, persuasive, and command respect of their peers.

It is important to avoid press-ganging people into your team, and only take those who participate willingly. You need people who believe in your vision on your team. However, you should not ignore the most outspoken sceptics either. Try to find common ground with them, bargain for a temporary “ceasefire”, and get one or two on your team. Seeing a harsh critic ally with you will make other employees reconsider their negative attitudes, and will make them more willing to try out what you’re proposing.

Prepare the infrastructure

The infrastructure you will need to deploy greatly depends on the chosen format of eLearning courses. Typical requirements include the following: 

  • Preinstalled software

  • Preconfigured learning environment

  • Fast and reliable Internet connection

  • Computers capable of sound playback

  • Headsets for every learner

 The specifics can change, for example, depending on whether your planned courses will feature sound or not. Regardless, when deploying the infrastructure, you will likely have to turn to your IT department for assistance.

Look for Subject Matter Experts

Before you can start building courses, you need to establish which sources of information you will refer to when creating training materials. Internet is, without a doubt, a great invention, but not everything you find on it is true. What you need is subject matter experts (SMEs), who possess the expertise pertaining to the unique way your company runs. Make it your business to identify them and be sure to use their knowledge well.

Unfortunately, SMEs can often be less than enthused to help you. They may consider your requests a nuisance, or be afraid that sharing their hard-earned secrets will make them replaceable. You must convince them that nothing could be farther from the truth. Make them see that participating in the creation of online courses will only cement their position as foremost experts, and make them even more respected in the eyes of their peers and managers alike.

Work with Trainers

If your company already has a training department, adopting eLearning will make it necessary for them to change their approach to employee training. Don’t be in a hurry to replace traditional frontal instruction with eLearning overnight. You don’t want the trainers (especially if they are adherents of the traditional methods of education) to unite against you. To avoid that, you must make them a part of your team and ask them to actively participate in implementing eLearning. 

Keep in mind that the trainers will have to combine the elements of both frontal instruction and eLearning. I recommend to begin with replacing the former with the latter when explaining theory, as practical tasks are a traditional frontal instruction domain. Help your trainers get started with converting their training materials into electronic format. Make it clear that the adoption of eLearning will decrease the load they’re experiencing and give them more time to spend on important tasks that are best delivered via frontal instruction. Be sure to make trainers a part of your team, and they will become promoters of your vision instead of detractors.

Pick a Learning Management System

The importance of choosing the right LMS is hard to overestimate. There are a lot of different vendors and offers on the market, and the task of picking the one that best fits the unique needs of your organization falls to you. LMSes can differ from one another in many ways, and it’s your job to determine what functions and features are essential for you, and what you can do without. Note that the price of an LMS can differ greatly depending on whether it has a particular module or offers a particular function or feature. When choosing an LMS, start by answering the following questions to begin narrowing the field down: 

  • Do I want a cloud-based LMS or an on-premises one?

  • Do I need built-in authoring tools?

  • What are my expectations regarding the statistics and reports module?

  • Do I need a module for creating tests and surveys?

Choosing a suitable LMS for the first time is hard and can be time-consuming. To help you with this task, we prepared an article called Everything You Need to Know About Choosing a Learning Management System. It lists all the main functions and features available in modern LMSes, and helps you sort those you need from those you really don’t.

Create and Import User Accounts

Creating user accounts in an LMS from scratch can be a time-consuming affair. When choosing an LMS, make sure that it supports mass import of user accounts and learn how to do that. Most systems should be able to import user accounts from a CSV file or a Microsoft Excel file.   

Clarify if the LMS vendor can import user accounts for you, and if so, in what format they must be exported. Many vendors offer this service when setting the system up.

Select the Topics for Your eLearning Courses

Don’t be in too much of a rush to get started building eLearning courses. First, gather as much information about the company and its business as you can, analyze and sort it, and try to determine which information is essential for the company to reach its goals.

Besides, some topics are intrinsically more suited for eLearning, and some are best delivered via frontal instruction. General information and information about processes can be easily delivered via online courses. When you need to teach employees practical or physical skills, go with frontal instruction.

Buy Generic Courses

When you need to teach employees about some general topic that is not uniquely related to your organization, it is usually better to look for a ready-made course from a third party. Buying such courses is more time- and cost-efficient than building one from scratch in-house. Examples of such topics may include:

  • Onboarding New Employee

  • Conflicts in the Workplace

  • Sexual Harassment in the Workspace

  • Customer Service Training

Since courses covering such topics do not need to take the specifics of your organization into account, you can just buy them from a third party and devote your time and energy to developing courses more closely related to your organization’s unique needs.

Build Professional Courses

Due to the fact that every organization has its own peculiarities, ways of organizing labor, and workflows, training courses related to products or services sold by an organization must usually be built in-house.

For creating courses, you need an eLearning Authoring Tool and a few employees who will use it to build the courses. The benefit of this approach is that Authoring Tools are usually easy to use, even without much training or programming skills. Geenio is a fine example of an Authoring Tool.

Pick a team of a few people who will be responsible for building courses. Give them a few days to familiarize themselves with the Authoring Tool. Then, put them in touch with the SMEs, who will be the main source of information, and on whose expertise the courses will be based. Ideally, SMEs themselves should be tasked with course creation, as this ensures that all important aspects of the topic taught by a course will be covered adequately. However, remember that SMEs may not be experts in working with the Authoring Tool and may require your assistance in turning a course consisting of images and text into something more interactive and engaging.

Assign Courses to Departments and Groups

Online courses can be separated into two broad groups: generic and specialized. Generic courses, in most cases, have broad applications and can be taken by anyone in the organization. Specialized courses are usually targeted at the employees working in a specific department or occupying a specific position. To assign to each employee only those courses he can benefit from, you must separate the users into groups and subgroups. 

Which criteria to use when separating users into groups is up to you. For example, you can group users by their position, or by the department of which they are a part.

Introduce the Learning Management System

Before you begin assigning courses to employees, it is a good idea to present the LMS to them. Assemble the staff in a meeting room (use a webinar if some of them work remotely) and demonstrate the system they will use to take online courses. Make sure to take the time to explain the functions and features of the system and how to use them. 

To make your presentation even more effective, split employees into groups and conduct a presentation for each one. This way, you will have more time to answer employees’ questions, which, in turn, will help them better understand the LMS and make your presentation more useful.

Gather Feedback

Make sure that your team is ready to collect users’ feedback about the LMS. Make it so that giving feedback is easy, and inform employees that you value their opinion and are prepared to make changes to the system if they find it inconvenient or hard to use.

You will likely get support requests as well. Make sure that a member of your team is always available to assist users with any issues them may face.

Keep Management Informed

Do not forget to keep the managers up-to-date regarding the current status of the training program and the progress you make in implementing eLearning in the organization. Inform them about the general state of affairs, the issues you encounter, about the employees’ attitude towards this new initiative and their success (or lack thereof) in taking online courses. Do not forget to report about your plans for and expectations about the nearest future.

Managers like to stay on top of things, so unless you make a habit of keeping them informed, they will ask for information themselves. But you mustn’t grumble and think that they step in your affairs too much. In fact, if the management in your organization is on point, you will likely receive assistance with any issues you may have faced. In short, always be aware of the management’s expectations from eLearning and the goals they want to achieve with its help.

It is best to present your results supported by numbers and graphs. Talk is cheap, so never pass up an opportunity to present your results in the form of a graph or a pie chart and back them up with solid numbers.

P.S. Save you the print version of the list in PDF format.