Digital Learning - a whole new world

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Digital Learning – a whole new world

Online training will continue being part of the hybrid office, integrated as a digital tool for employees, says Silvia Andreeva.

Technological advancements are an irreplaceable part of our life, and it's our responsibility to use them in an ethical manner so that they can help us learn and grow. Silvia Andreeva, Business Development Director at Melon Learning, will be our guide in the world of eLearning and the opportunities it presents.

Current educational technologies have been developed ever since 1924 with the creation of the Teaching machine, courtesy of Sidney L. Pressey. In the last two decades, educational technologies have become a significant part of a learner’s daily life. Around 25 years ago technological terms like CBT (computer-based training) and LMS (learning management system) were introduced and today we have a whole collection of acronyms that help define each platform, according to its field, goals, and functionalities. The market is strongly segmented and provides

an abundance of platforms, systems, and solutions

- people now have access to more than a thousand of them worldwide and organizations struggle as they pick what’s best for them. Even those considered experts on the market haven’t reached a consensus in terms of terminology - eLearning, WBT (web-based training), online learning, digital learning, virtual training… We are flooded with abbreviations like LMP (learning management platform), LMS (learning management system), LXP (learning experience platform), LRS (learning records store), VILTs (virtual instructor-led training), webinar, virtual classroom, authoring tool, micro-learning platform, skill management platform, employee engagement platform, video learning platform, knowledge management system, content platform… The list goes on.

Not only that, but a system is differentiated in terms of the organization using it (corporate or academic), whether it is a branded or an open-source platform, if it is installed internally or cloud-based, whether it is integrated, as well as if it is synchronous or asynchronous.

The biggest market share

in terms of learning, systems is dominated by LMS, and the newest acronym on the market is the IOL (Impact of Learning) platform, where data collection and analysis are added to the list of LMS functionalities. To make it easy, we will use the term “eLearning.”

When the pandemic started, a large number of companies, most of which hadn’t invested in learning technologies before that, were forced to quickly adapt to the circumstances using platforms such as MS Teams and Zoom and labeled them “digital learning.” It did the job for a few months but proved to be unsustainable.

Remote work

appears to be a long-term trend, making traditional learning with physical groups of people somewhat irrelevant.

In terms of digital learning, there are a few things to consider:

Digital fatigue, a continuously growing concern, forces eLearning to adapt in order to provide the best environment for digital learning – i.e. the length of online trainings. As learners' attention span grows smaller, it is advisory to create content with a length of no more than 15 minutes. When conducting a face-to-face study session, it is best to allocate time slots of 10-15 minutes for different activities, switching between teaching, discussing, and games, as well as keeping the length of these sessions to no more than an hour and a half. For physical classrooms, it’s best to communicate important information quickly and then switch to a discussion in relation to previously studied online courses. Learning bites or micro-learning will become more popular

Learners’ engagement is something else to consider when selecting what type of digital learning to choose. Up until recently, it was the norm that L&D experts and managers are responsible for defining learning paths for employees, either as a result of training needs analysis or as an outcome of the performance appraisal process. However, in a world overflowing with digital content,

people got used to searching on their own

what they need to learn and grow in the workplace. It is expected that people will depend mainly on their own judgment when it comes to deciding what needs to be studied, rather than leaving that decision to companies. With the development of machine learning, learning systems can automatically offer topics and content to learners based on their listed preferences or completed courses. It’s similar to the Discover Weekly playlists offered by Spotify or the film recommendation algorithms in Netflix. Thanks to that, users can create their own selection of trainings depending on their interests, growth path, and other work-related challenges they might be facing.

An abundance of out-of-the-box content is readily available – interactive courses, video courses, short educational videos, gamified courses, simulations, and others. This brings forward the opportunity to provide all this content in one place through integrations in one single platform. Keeping in mind that people face the problem of sorting out what’s important and what isn’t, AI implementation can play a significant role in the field.

The most effective way to train your employees is one that offers opportunities, rather than one that provides solutions. In the words of Josh Bersin: Digital Learning does not mean learning on your phone, it means “bringing learning to where employees are.” It is a “way of learning” not a “type of learning.”

With the introduction of the hybrid office, in order for digital learning to succeed it is important to empower employees for their own education and development, as well as provide an opportunity for managers to pick the content they want to provide to their teams. L&D roles change and they now have a bigger responsibility to secure

the proper technologies,

as well as platforms, environment, and content, that give employees and managers the chance to decide what topics and format they want for their online trainings. It is of extreme importance to gather meaningful data about the learning process, as well as a proper algorithm to analyze that data.

Learning platform’s focus shifts from being an everything-learning-related environment, to adapting to people’s way of work. The hybrid office enforced tools like MS Teams, G-Suit, Zoom, Slack, and others, that allow the combination of communication, meetings, goals, plans, and tasks. These tools transform into collaborative platforms with the opportunity for apps integrations so that one can have all work-related processes in one place. In this way, all tools can be found in one place as integrated apps in the collaborative platforms.

The future of digital learning is to become flexible and efficient as part of a hybrid office, where employees collaborate with each other through digital tools.

About Melon Learning

Melon Learning is part of the software company Melon, which develops and offers an eLearning platform, as well as interactive digital content development as a service. Melon Learning started as a project for a client – Vivacom. Gradually, Melon Learning turns into a system of the LMS type, appropriate for online courses for employees of different companies and fields. It is mainly used by medium and large companies, where the number of employees ranges between 150-200 and a few thousand, in industries like communications, insurance, fintech, banking, trading, pharmacy. Most often the platform is used for induction training, product and service trainings, sales courses, GDPR, risk prevention, and other compliance-related courses. The platform provides a module that allows the creation of different quizzes and questionnaires. It offers a library with content uploaded from clients – most often developed internally in the form of presentations and videos, but also interactive eLearning courses. Melon Learning is an environment, where this content is used according to the learning paths and training programs and is assigned either in groups or individually. It also tracks results in in0depth reports. During the pandemic, an additional module was developed to support virtual instructor-led training in integration with Zoom. The latest development is the Melon Learning app for MS Teams.

About Silvia

Silvia Andreeva is the Business Development Director of Melon Learning. She has been involved with learning technologies since the year 2000. A key moment in her career development is when she took part in the development of the first website for online trainings in Bulgaria. Later, she became part of the HR team of Vivacom (former Bulgarian Telecom), where she gained experience in the L&D processes in the corporate world. In 2009, they partnered with Melon and together made eLearning an inseparable part of employee training. Eventually, Silvia joined Melon’s team and took over the development of Melon Learning as a brand for eLearning products and services.

She says: I’m always learning. Learning is a way to become a better person and to make the world around us a better place.

This article is originally published in Bulgarian in the March 2022 edition of Economic Magazine.

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