ARTICLE: Adam Sonnett

How to develop a corporate online learning platform that drives engagement and gets results

Today’s corporations are strategically investing in continuing education. Whether they are seeking to upskill or reskill their workforce, learning and development (L&D) initiatives are a cost-effective way for organizations to strengthen their workforce, keep current with emerging technologies, and stay ahead of the competition. As a result, many industries (and the advocacy groups that serve them) are pouring more resources into learning and development (L&D) initiatives. And the percentage of those funds are being funneled toward online learning platforms is growing. 

Which means that many organizations are suddenly adopting — and even developing — EdTech products. The stakes are high. Get it right, and your online learning experience can inspire engagement and enhance your teams’ performance. Get it wrong, and your L&D effort may fall flat on its face. 

Here’s what you need to consider if your organization wants to develop an online learning system that delivers effective educational content. 

Corporate Learning & Development Forecast: eLearning Experiences Take Center Stage

Employers and industry advocacy groups currently take a blended approach to their L&D initiatives. That is, they use a mix of in-person, instructor-led teaching (ILT) and online resources. 

However, as L&D projects grow increasingly ambitious in terms of scale, they are rapidly shifting to a digital-first format. In fact, 57% of talent developers reported that they plan to spend more on their online learning programs moving forward (and 38% expect to spend less on ILT programs). This makes sense given that digital learning platforms are more: 

  • Logistically flexible 
  • Cost-effective and scalable, especially for large organizations
  • Convenient for employees and members who wish to access educational resources on their own schedule 
  • Conducive to creating a highly personalized learning experience that serves up the right materials at the right time

The question, then, is not whether but how to produce an exceptional online learning experience — one that promotes employee engagement and delivers results.  

What to Know When Building Your Own eLearning Platform

Organizations and industry advocacy groups that seek to create effective online learning systems have two choices. They can choose to adopt an existing eLearning product, such as iSpring or Articulate. Or they can build their own. Each solution presents its own set of pros and cons. No off-the-shelf eLearning product is perfect. And spinning up a customized internal learning system isn’t as simple as it might seem. 

Many corporations are opting to create their own internal learning systems. And that may be the most sensible option when it comes to creating a truly customized learning experience. The trouble comes when they attempt to do so on an ad hoc basis, without a solid UX foundation or a long-term strategy in place. This often results in a frustrating and disjointed user experience — one in which key content is difficult to find and access. 

That shouldn’t come as a big surprise. After all, most organizations that go the DIY route aren’t product developers. Building EdTech products is by no means part of their core function or expertise. They aren’t steeped in the nuances of learning and teaching technologies, and they don’t have an institutional knowledge of UX best practices. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean organizations can’t build a functional online learning platform. But it does exacerbate the potential for problems. For one, the product development process is likely to be less efficient and effective. This, in turn, siphons time and focus away from other, more relevant initiatives. Unfortunately, the end result is also likely to be suboptimal from the user’s perspective. And a frustrating user experience can lead to low levels of employee engagement and reduced informational retention. 

In order to get it right, corporations must navigate a steep learning curve. They must learn how to think like a product development team as they: 

Developing Highly Effective L&D Resources with the Right EdTech UX Partner 

Whether your organization is looking to build a custom online learning platform or adopt an existing tool, you can — and should — leverage the specialized expertise of a UX agency rooted in the EdTech space. 

By allowing an agency partner to take the lead in the product development process, you can ensure that your learning system is truly designed around your users’ habits, preferences, constraints. At the same time, you free up your own L&D team to do what you do best, like focus on identifying skills gaps, building internal momentum with leadership, and creating a positive learning culture. 

The truth is that getting your learning platform’s UX right will go a long way toward making or breaking the success of your L&D initiatives. When it comes to creating an effective online learning program, sourcing high-quality content is only half the battle. Creating a culture of learning is key to success. And online learning platforms that deliver a seamless and intuitive user experience enable a robust learning culture, while a poor user experience hampers it. 

The right UX agency can help you do more than just build an optimized digital learning platform. They can also help you shape the content of your learning programs. For example, in a recent study, L&D professionals reported that they spend 15% of their time working with managers to identify learning needs. A seasoned UX partner can help you facilitate discovery sessions to more quickly identify those needs. 

Beyond that, an EdTech UX agency like Openfield can help you holistically evaluate the efficacy of your educational program. That’s true whether you’re building your own system or leveraging an existing eLearning tool. Using research-driven methods to evaluate the overall efficacy of your L&D curricula, your UX partner can assist you in shaping the most effective learning experience possible for your organization — driving up ROI in the process.

If you want to learn more about how Openfield can help your organization deliver an outstanding online learning experience, drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.

  • Photo of Adam Sonnett
    Adam Sonnett

    As President at Openfield, Adam brings a blend of business acumen, client empathy and leadership skills to ensuring our team delivers the best process, velocity, service and quality to enable our clients’ digital products to surge ahead of the competition. Outside of work, Adam is a devoted husband, father and dog owner who is a life-long player and maniacal fan of major league and international soccer clubs. On weekends, you can find him working on various renovation projects at his historic home in Ft. Thomas, Kentucky.

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