5 Ways to Advance eLearning in 2017

04-14-2017

Posted by Dean Pianta, Solutions Manager

Adobe has helped redefine and disrupt the online retail experience with its leading Digital Marketing Cloud technology. Today, more than 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies use Adobe’s technology to optimize customer experiences and maximize revenue.

eLearning needs to catch up and advance to the level of our company’s digital marketing. The customer journey is a direct parallel with that of the learner journey. Benefits also exist at the enterprise technology level, drawing from open source innovation and a platform as a service (PaaS), or on premise deployment model.

Here are five ways you can get ahead in eLearning this year:

  1. ‘Beg, Steal and Borrow’ from more advanced industries.

I’m going to quote a friend, a medical doctor. Last I saw him, he was having a Red Bull. I asked him how Red Bull worked, and he smiled and said, “It takes a piece of tomorrow and brings it into today.”

I loved that—the concept of borrowing something from the future and applying it to help you today.

In the case of eLearning, there is much we can borrow from other industries that is considered our ‘future’ and their ‘present.’ The digital marketing industry  is the crystal ball that I encourage everyone to pay attention to.

  1. Give power to the right people.

A lesson the eLearning community can borrow from Adobe’s Marketing Cloud: Technology needs to be manageable by the business line. Making changes to the eLearning site, course content pages, grouping of communities, UI elements and even functionality should all be editable by people without advanced computer science degrees.

In the digital marketing world, companies have given content ownership to content creators. Websites are being updated by business users and marketers. The skillsets required to change branding, layouts and the overall look-and-feel are now in the hands of the business line. HTML/JS/CSS skillsets have been traded in for wizard-driven and drag-and-drop capabilities.

At the same time, the business line can measure the impact of the changes, quickly change parameters and test again. This streamlined process frees the business line to make better, collective and more relevant decisions impacting the overall mission of the organization. The same can be achieved in eLearning.

  1. Get out of your technology silo, and innovate faster.

Pushing the boundaries—and being reputed as a ‘disruptive’ player in an industry—comes with being the first mover to challenge it. Think Apple, Tesla and Google. It takes a first mover to focus primarily on the user experience, and rethink and remap what once was, to challenge the status quo.

By having a system that is constantly measured and being enhanced, coming out with updates and fresh feature sets, allowing the businesses to adapt the new capabilities and take it to their market, you can empower an eLearning organization to become a team of pioneers.

Focus on the user’s ideal experience and, if necessary, break down the organizational silos that create drag on innovation. Specifically, if a single solution can service eLearning — the public website, the intranet site, documents and publications, mobile apps and maintenance processes — then set up shared service models. This saves money, and reduces integrations and security vulnerabilities.

  1. Expand your scope on what is managed and measured, and therefore authored.

Human performance assessment is at the heart of future of eLearning. Approach this with “experience” in mind and work toward a complete, 360-degree view of the learners.

To date, the learner has been evaluated in a very narrow, isolated manner. Content is managed and performance-based on T/F, multiple choice, matching type SCORM metrics are being leveraged. We want to augment current thoughts on what is managed and measured.

Today, content is managed (not learners, really) and learners are measured based on tests. This is an incomplete view. We need more than this basic notion.

Adobe proposes that we expand what we manage—managing beyond just content, and now including learners, their communities, social behavior, feedback, and more. This allows us to re-introduce many of the social aspects of learning that were removed in the 90s when we first went digital.

In parallel, we need to expand what is measured so we make the right decisions that keep us evolving at a competitive pace. Measure learner engagement to better understand student behavior: Tracking likes, dislikes, comments, what they search for and find or don’t find, where they drop off when watching a video, how long they typically spend in tutorial, how many questions they post, or how many answers they provide. This also ties into not just formal learning being authored, but informal learning being contributed, with instructors and learning managers owning parts of the curation.

  1. Invest in the right platform and UI.

I cannot stress this enough: It is crucial to invest in platforms that are flexible, customizable and user-friendly—especially to digital natives. You must be able to measure user behavior, segment appropriately and understand each learner as deeply as possible. If it’s not being measured, you can’t manage it—and, most importantly, you can’t improve it!

Many eLearning systems today have been custom-coded with a backbone and language that may have been written 10-20 years ago, and now they must be maintained as such. It is very important to upgrade this to a platform that allows you to be self-reliant and make changes in-house at any time. The back-end experience — that of the developer or instructor — should be as seamless as possible, empowering them to focus solely on delivering the best content and experience possible to their users.

Join the Movement

We are evolving, but not quickly enough. With virtual reality, augmented reality and machine learning advancing so quickly this year, isn’t it time for some disruption in the eLearning market? At Adobe, we believe you either drive disruption—or get run over by it.

If you are doing something different or have ideas to make eLearning better for all, share it with us at @AdobeGov #eLearningInnovations

About the Author

Dean Pianta has 25 years in eLearning, military simulation and commercial game development. He joined Adobe Systems Federal to fuse these concepts together and drive innovation to the public sector. As a learning-obsessed person, he sees Adobe’s Digital Marketing technology as the guide.

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