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Why small and medium sized businesses need to train their employees online

If you follow any of the industry publications and pundits, you will find that online training dominates the conversation. For the last 15 years “eLearning” has been the buzz. Yet at the same time, there is a significant dissatisfaction with “eLearning” and still a huge amount of instructor-led training being delivered. Small and medium businesses (SMB) often conduct most of their training for on-boarding, sales and products in person, i.e. “instructor-led” or face to face (F2F) training.

 

As we transition to a time when millennials are starting to dominate the workforce, it’s pretty clear even SMB’s will need to adjust the way in which they build and deliver training. Whether it’s formal (someone teaches a class) or informal (coaching, mentoring on the job), the new workforce grew up on mobile phones. They get their news and other information from videos, blogs (which are mostly text with links to interesting related articles), and collaborating on apps and social networks. You read, watch and chat in short bursts…

 

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For SMB’s this means that training should be built to deliver not only in F2F settings, but also online. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, but it has to be available online. It may be for the actual training itself, or as reinforcement for what was learning in a F2F setting. The hard part of this challenge is how to easily create training and make it available online. Most of the tools in the eLearning world are designed for specialized people with special knowledge around instructional design and learning & development. SMBs typically lack these skills and want something that is so easy to use, anybody can do it.



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While there are many great eLearning authoring tools and Learning Management Systems (LMS), often they are overkill for a much simpler problem. How can SMB’s create and deliver training as easily as building and sharing blog posts, news and videos that today’s workforce is used to consuming? Most of the “industry standard” tools are designed for compliance training, not about quickly getting new employees and customers trained on company best practices in sales, products, services or operations.

 

SMBs do not typically have “Learning and Development” departments. They don’t want to spend a lot of time discussing “Learning Science”. They just want to train their employees and customers in the fastest and most effective way. And they want to do it using simple tools in a way that is similar to what they are use to seeing on the web and mobile phones everyday. They are not in the education business…

 

There is a big difference between education and training. SMBs expect employees to have basic foundational education when they come to work. SMBs may offer employees access to content providers like Lynda.com. If not, there is a lot of great content designed around foundational that is free on the web (e.g. Khan Academy). SMBs can’t teach the basics. They have to focus on training about their businesses. And they don’t want to manage Learning in an LMS. They just want to build, share and track some basic information. Who, What, When, Where and How much time.

 

It is vitally important that SMBs have online training. It accelerates performance and improves employee productivity, retention, recruiting and ultimately their brand. We need to find a way to do this that is quick, easy, and most importantly - affordable.