eLearning Platforms: Your Guide to Understanding and Selecting Top Choices
August 16, 2023
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The shift to eLearning and digital platforms is nothing new, but leveraging technology for professional growth is continuing to accelerate rapidly.
ATD found that 99 percent of organizations provided eLearning in 2020, compared to 76 percent in 2015. Many companies started using eLearning because it was easy to deliver and track compliance training, but the focus has expanded into employee development, customer education, and more.
With almost every company already using this approach, L&D teams must understand the must-have features of eLearning platforms and how to use them to empower employees.
In this post:
What is an eLearning platform?
An eLearning platform is a software that helps your organization deliver digital, online training courses that employees can access on demand.
The best learning platforms deliver an engaging learning experience, including videos, quizzes, games, and other types of interactive content. By providing support for various types of content and allowing you to address multiple learning styles, eLearning platforms provide everything you need to support effective learning and skill development.
eLearning platform vs. online learning platform
An eLearning platform sounds similar to an online learning platform; in some cases, the terms can be interchangeable. However, sometimes an online learning platform exists primarily on the internet, whereas an eLearning platform can be entirely in-house and be accessible only to those in your organization.
Examples of public online learning platforms include Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, and Skillshare. These platforms may focus on delivering training in specific formats, whereas an in-house eLearning platform gives you much more flexibility and the ability to personalize and customize training content.
eLearning system vs. learning management system (LMS)
The terms eLearning system and learning management system (LMS) are also interchangeable in many cases, referring to the same thing.
In some cases, however, an eLearning platform might focus entirely on eLearning, while an LMS could have more robust support for in-person training.
Top eLearning platform types
There are many ways to deliver digital training, and there are platforms that focus on specific methods and all-in-one options.
Understanding the different eLearning platforms will help you decide what works best for your company’s needs.
1. eLearning for education
Even before the pandemic, schools used online learning to serve more students more effectively and at a lower cost. That meant that college degrees could be offered more affordably, and students could choose the best schools without living nearby.
Schools like Southern New Hampshire University started offering accredited online degrees in 1997, well before the internet exploded into what it is now. When the pandemic hit, high schools and universities had to expand their remote learning options quickly.
Today, students can access eLearning through online high school classes, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), online degrees offered by various well-known universities, and more.
2. Online course-building platforms
Adult education after college is always in high demand, but it can be harder to find high-quality courses.
To solve this problem, online course platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and others have emerged to provide a central place for adult learners to find information about everything from business and communication to personal development and social sciences.
Because these platforms are public, they aren’t the best option for companies that want to teach employees how to follow proprietary in-house processes and share best practices internally that they don’t want others to know.
3. eLearning for employees
Since public platforms aren’t suitable for teaching your teams specific company procedures and trade secrets, it’s vital for L&D teams to look into platforms that are specifically designed for businesses.
eLearning platforms, which may also be called learning management systems, allow a company to build employee training materials that can be used for onboarding, upskilling, professional development, and more.
Because everything is in-house, the training assets are protected by the same cybersecurity that protects the rest of your company’s data. You can also update, change, and deploy training anytime, and track results to show how training ties back to company goals.
4. eLearning for customers
Another important application for eLearning in most organizations is to help support customer success.
Customers who understand how to get maximum value from your product or service will stay with your solution longer, increasing revenue and decreasing costs for your company. You’ll also increase customer satisfaction and engagement with your product or service, reduce customer support costs, and create upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
A robust customer education program encourages users to go beyond the features they initially focused on and allows them to see the full value of your solution.
5. An all-in-one learning management system
The best learning solutions allow your organization to offer multiple types of training on a single platform.
The Learning Cloud from WorkRamp allows your team to create and deliver a variety of training options, including:
- Employee onboarding
- Training and development
- Sales enablement and training
- Leadership training
- Customer education
- Partner training
MikMak, a software company that helps brands improve eCommerce growth, uses WorkRamp to create and deliver customized training both internally and externally. They could scale employee training as their team grew quickly, and the Go-To-Market team created certifications to ensure customers got the most out of MikMak, which also reduced calls to customer service.
They found that their employees, customers, and partners were excited to use WorkRamp because of the easy-to-use interface and the self-serve nature of eLearning made it easy for learners to fit into their schedules.
eLearning platform features
As you evaluate different eLearning platforms, you must know what features to look for to get the capabilities you need to create your training programs.
Some features benefit the learner, while others make life easier for your L&D team.
A simple and intuitive course creation process
Creating a training program involves getting information from various places and subject matter experts, which can be challenging.
The best learning platforms have prebuilt content that makes it easy to create courses and training on common topics. It should also be easy to create training for basic and advanced skills and to support multiple learning styles.
Finally, the L&D interface should be intuitive and easy to use. That will help your team create better training content more quickly, which benefits everyone.
An engaging user experience for learners
Both employees and customers understand why learning more about your product or service is essential, but many of them don’t have the time or interest to sit through long, boring training sessions.
Instead, you need a platform that is engaging, fun, and easy to use. PartnerHero, a BPO firm, used WorkRamp to create employee training that was quickly embraced, with learner satisfaction scores of 4.82/5.
When employees and customers enjoy using the training platform you’ve chosen, your completion rates and learner engagement will also be excellent.
Multiple learning formats
The right platform will support training that addresses multiple learning styles and include engaging features like videos, quizzes, and interactive elements.
When you address multiple learning approaches, employees can quickly understand new ideas and retain information better. For example, breaking up text with visual elements like illustrations and infographics makes things easier for visual learners.
Integration and API functionality
A high-quality learning management platform will have everything you need for training in one place, but you might need to connect those learning results with other information, such as customer data, a content management system, or your human resources system.
For example, connecting training information to your customer profiles allows you to see the impact of customer education programs on reduced churn, upsells, and more.
Be sure you choose an eLearning platform with integrations to support your broader business goals and existing tech stack.
Data reporting and analytics
One of the most essential elements of a training program is understanding how well it works. That can not only help you adjust the training modules and improve them, but it can also help show the L&D team’s contribution to revenue and profitability.
A learning platform should have detailed reporting and analytics that can tell you who started training courses, who finished them, and at what point they stopped if they didn’t finish, and allow learners to leave feedback, among other metrics.
The Learning Cloud includes out-of-the-box reports and configurable dashboards so that you can see everything you need at a glance.
Benefits of using the best e-learning platforms
Why do 99 percent of organizations offer eLearning for employees?
Because the process makes learning easier and provides a significant number of benefits for the organization. Here are just a few of the benefits of having a high-quality eLearning platform.
Saves time and money
In the 2022 SHRM Workplace Learning & Development report, 25 percent of learners said not having time to complete training was a top frustration.
At the same time, traditional training is expensive for organizations: they need to pay a trainer, get all of the students together in the same physical location, and pay employees for the training hours.
eLearning solves both problems. Not only can you create shorter training modules that don’t take hours to complete, but a single training course can be taken by any employee without a trainer, classroom, or significant disruption required.
The right training platform allows you to create training programs of varying length and complexity so that every learner can find and access the information they need when they need it.
Improved employee retention and engagement
The 2022 SHRM report also found that 76 percent of employees are likelier to stay with a company that offers continuous training, and 87 percent of HR managers said that improving employee engagement is a crucial training goal.
Employees value training for their current roles and a focus on employee development. When your team members know they are valued for their current work and seen as an asset for the future, they’ll be more likely to be engaged and plan a career in your organization.
Easier to train remote and hybrid employees
In July and August of 2022, Flexjobs found that 97 percent of workers wanted either fully remote or hybrid work in their Career Pulse Survey.
How do you train employees who aren’t onsite? The best way is with an easy-to-use eLearning platform that remote and hybrid employees can access no matter where they are.
The fact that team members aren’t in the office shouldn’t put them at a disadvantage for training — and with the right e-learning platform, it won’t.
Centralized platform for training materials
Having your training assets spread across multiple Google Docs and spreadsheets is a sure ticket to headaches and lost productivity. A centralized platform makes things easier for your L&D team and your employees.
It’s much easier for your L&D team to create courses and ensure you don’t duplicate existing materials when everything is in one place. You can maximize efficiency and avoid having team members overlap.
Easily-accessible employee training means it takes less time to complete and is easier to remember. If they can’t complete an entire course or training in one sitting, they know exactly where to go to pick up where they left off.
Finally, with a single platform for your training programs, you can easily track results and use platform data to create easy-to-understand reports. With a scattered system and individual Google docs, you’ll never show the proper ROI for your department.
How to choose the best eLearning platform
Having the right eLearning platform is essential to getting the benefits you’re looking for, so how do you choose the one that fits your needs?
Here are some criteria you can use.
Determine your use cases
How will you be using your eLearning platform? What training programs are you planning to implement?
Remember to think about your immediate needs and what needs you might have in the future. If you plan to develop customer education programs, for example, make sure your platform makes that easy to do.
Having an all-in-one platform like the Learning Cloud is one of the best ways to ensure your eLearning software can support any use case you have today and in the future.
Understand your learner’s needs
What challenges do your employees face when it comes to finishing training programs? The best way to find out your learner’s needs is to ask them.
Some of the common concerns from the SHRM 2022 report included:
- Hard to stay motivated to complete training: 33%
- Quickly forget training: 25%
- Lack of time to complete training: 25%
- Training isn’t relevant to their role: 24%
- Training is out of date: 21%
So you want to find an eLearning platform that allows you to create memorable, engaging training that can be sized to fit different amounts of time.
Create a budget
Next, think about how much you want to invest in a platform. Most organizations invest significantly in employee L&D, with total training expenditures in the U.S. hitting $101 billion in 2022, according to the 2022 Training Industry report.
It’s clear why. McKinsey found that 87 percent of companies say they have current skill gaps or expect to in the next few years. At the same time, leadership is an issue. A separate study found that only 11 percent of HR leaders said they had a strong bench for leadership roles in 2020.
The good news is that eLearning is more cost-effective than traditional teaching methods, so the amount you invest in a platform pays for itself quickly.
With a single platform, you can improve employee engagement, close skill gaps, address leadership needs, lower customer churn, and develop your employees for future roles.
Next, you’ll want to ensure you have the functionality to create and deploy training and track results. The features we discussed above are good things to look for.
The key is to ensure that it’s easy to create courses and that the user interface is simple and engaging so your employees and customers will quickly adopt the new training system.
Value security and privacy
Finally, ensure that the eLearning platform has robust security features if it’s hosted in the cloud and that your cybersecurity and security policies are in great shape if you have the platform hosted in-house.
Because your training programs contain proprietary information, you want to ensure you protect your platform the same way you would other electronic business assets.
Choose the best eLearning platform
The best eLearning platform is an all-in-one solution that allows you to train new hires, keep compliance up to date, train current and future leaders, develop employees, and educate customers and partners on your products and services.
The Learning Cloud is the eLearning platform that will help your organization address your training needs both now and in the future. Whether you’re a smaller company or you’re looking to scale, get the features and functionality you need to succeed.
Discover how the Learning Cloud can help you create effective, engaging training. Contact us for a free, personalized demo.
Complete the form for a custom demo.
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Anna SpoonerWorkRamp Contributor
Anna Spooner is a digital strategist and marketer with over 11 years of experience. She writes content for various industries, including SaaS, medical and personal insurance, healthcare, education, marketing, and business. She enjoys the process of putting words around a company’s vision and is an expert at making complex ideas approachable and encouraging an audience to take action.
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