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Optimize Online Learning With Effective Change Management

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Thu Apr 29 2021

Optimize Online Learning With Effective Change Management
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The past year has forced organizations to accelerate or launch digital transformation initiatives, with migrating to online learning at the top of the list. Unfortunately, the rush generated by the pandemic has resulted in stopgap solutions that aren’t set up for long-term success. It’s time to consider the benefits these transformations can bring and implement effective change management techniques to sustain positive business outcomes.

Understand How a Digital Transformation Can Improve Learning

The business world has been on a path to digitization as technology has evolved and workforces have become more globalized. For many organizations, digital learning has become the only way to deliver learning and development to dispersed audiences—an undertaking that does come with challenges but also brings benefits. Digital learning:

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1. Gives your organization greater access to valuable data. Many learning technologies can make available various insights that would be difficult or impossible to get in a traditional classroom setting. How are people engaging with content? How long does it take them to work through materials?

Combining data from your learning technologies and other sources, such as your human resource information system, can offer deeper insights into the impact your programs are having for your organization and its learners.

2. Reaches more people with online learning. Virtual education programs can give people greater access to your expertise and content. It could be about reaching out to new audiences who haven’t heard of you before or live in dispersed geographic locations. It could also be about finding different ways to inspire under-engaged audiences, including members who may not normally participate in in-person events.

3. Makes learning a journey. When learning takes place in a fixed time and space, it becomes something that happens when people need to complete mandatory training or occasionally upskill. When it’s online, it can become a steady part of people’s day-to-day lives.

Is digital learning as effective as face-to-face learning? The most common concern is the potential loss of social interactions, networking opportunities, and peer-to-peer learning, which happen organically in a classroom. This fear isn’t unfounded, but it can be overcome. You just need to be more intentional about creating online spaces for social learning and think about how technology will enable social interactions when you’re designing digital learning programs.

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Make Change Management a Pillar of Your Transition to Online Learning

Change management is the main differentiator between technology projects that succeed and those that fail. According to the 2008 IBM Global Services Making Change Work study, these are the top three factors that can lead to a successful transition to online learning:

1. Secure executive sponsorship. Executive sponsors can affect the success of a change initiative in so many ways—driving alignment between the specific initiative and overall business objectives and serving as a voice to communicate changes to employees.

2. Encourage employee involvement. Organizational change often boils down to individual change. To encourage individuals within organizations to act, you need to bring them into the process. This can help get employees invested in the change, generate awareness along the way, and enable you to better support them by identifying the tools and resources they need most. You can use Prosci’s ADKAR model as a starting point to understand why and when employees need to be involved.

3. Provide honest and timely communication. It might go against the typical way of communicating in a business setting, but when it comes to change management, you need to communicate a lot more than you might think—typically, five to seven times over the course of the change initiative.

Whether you’re still planning your online learning programs or have already launched them, you can apply these change management best practices to drive adoption, growth, and long-term success.

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To understand how leading organizations have made a successful shift from face-to-face to online programs, check out our webinar here.

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