First Steps in Creating an e-Learning Strategy

Many organizations that have traditionally offered  ILT (instructor-led training) are venturing into the e-learning realm to improve the quality of their learning programs and get the best ROI from their training budget. The tricky part when you’re unfamiliar with developing and managing e-learning is where to start when you don’t know what you need to know to get started. Change is good and necessary but can also be daunting. Creating an e-learning strategy - a document that shows the value of implementing e-learning, answers the important questions and lays out a path for success - will ensure you consider all the potential issues and possible solutions in order to make informed decisions. Having a clear, concise and well thought out strategy will also win you support from senior management and key stakeholders. Implementing e-Learning in an organization requires people, infrastructure and budget resources. Senior management support will pave the way to successful implementation.

Here's a snapshot of some of the key factors you need to consider for your strategy:

Educate your audience

Don't assume that those reviewing your strategy will know as much about e-learning as you - it's worthwhile to give a brief outline and state the benefits.

Link to business goals and demonstrate ROI

Your senior management stakeholders will be asking themselves "Will e-Learning add sufficient value to the organization?" and What are the cost savings and expected improvements to business and employee performance?" Satisfy them by identifying how e-learning implementation will support business goals, and showing the estimated return on investment that can be expected (free tools are available online to help you do this). 

Think about communication

Many a great endeavor has failed due to poor communication. As part of your strategy, be prepared to create a detailed and focused communication plan. Use champions and mentors, communicate roll-out plans using e-mail, newsletters, publicity, focus groups, intranet, etc. and provide mechanisms for employee input.

Consider necessary IT support

Buy-in and support from IT is important to the success of any e-Learning implementation - you need IT on your side. IT groups are usually busy, and will want to know if the infrastructure is in place or available to support e-learning and  just what technical support is required. Be prepared to determine what IT implementation, upgrade and escalation plans are required. 

Address cultural change

This can be a HUGE challenge for some organizations so it’s important to identify in your e-learning strategy how change will be managed. Learners new to e-learning may be resistant to the change (i.e., “it works just fine the way it is.”). Create awareness, dispel myths, emphasize the “WIIFM” (what’s in it for me), provide training, communicate and encourage learner discussion and input.

Identify resources

The people, equipment and materials required to implement e-learning are both necessary for success and a cost and time consideration. Be sure to identify who will be involved and estimate their time commitment in your strategy; consider everyone from project sponsor to the target audience. 

Ensure accessibility for all learners

Your strategy must address how learners will gain access to your e-learning courses. Consider not only access to computers, network(s) and required software programs but also accessibility for learners with physical challenges (i.e., the visually impaired).

Draft a project plan

When you have gathered all the other data, you will need to create a project plan that estimates the time, resources and budget that will be required to plan, schedule, communicate, implement and evaluate the e-Learning program. This will form your blueprint for implementation of your strategy. 

Of course this could be considered the tip of the iceberg when it comes to crafting a complete strategy. If you're interested in finding out more, please contact us.

For further reading, check out an interesting article I found the other day on creating an e-Learning strategy.  The information provides more food for thought.

http://www.elearnmag.org/subpage.cfm?section=best_practices&article=8-1