Compared to traditional learning environments and programs, digital learning offers many advantages for both your business and your employees. In today’s current climate, 96% of learners will turn to their phone when in need of information.
Embracing a digital approach to workplace learning will allow you to onboard new employees quicker, ensure standardized training takes place throughout your company, and avoid the heavy costs associated with in-person training.
With that said, digital learning doesn’t come without challenges. In fact, digital learning introduces unique and interesting challenges that you may not be familiar with.
By being aware of the potential difficulties surrounding e-learning, you can implement solutions to help your team preemptively overcome any issues.
From technological issues to reduced social interaction and dwindling learner motivation, here are 5 digital learning challenges that your team may be dealing with right now, and how to overcome them.
5 Common digital learning challenges and how to overcome them
1) Reduced social interaction
Humans are social beings. We’re naturally oriented towards others. In the context of learning, social interaction has been shown to have positive benefits for student success.
Knowing the importance of social interaction, it’s no surprise that the reduced social aspect of digital learning can sometimes be daunting for people. We’re used to being able to turn to our colleagues for support and advice in the workplace.
So, when you take away that physical interaction, it can add an element of difficulty to remote work and education.
What to do about it
The in-person dynamic of a traditional learning environment can be difficult to replicate in an e-learning setting where learners may be required to watch pre-recorded videos or complete online assessments.
However, the challenge of reduced social interaction can be overcome by integrating collaboration and communication in your online learning program. When it comes to online learning, students see social context, online communication and interactivity as valuable elements in establishing a sense of community with other online learners.
You could encourage collaboration in digital learning by asking employees to work as a virtual team on a group project. Another way to overcome the issue of reduced social interaction in digital learning would be to schedule team calls where you can let everyone interact and support each other on the course.
You may also be able to integrate a message app into your digital learning platform to encourage learners to talk with each other.
By creating a culture that embraces social interaction, you can help make digital learning less isolating for your employees.
2) Technological and accessibility difficulties
Digital learning allows your employees to expand their skills and knowledge at a time and place that suits them. However, not everyone has access to the same equipment, resources or requirements for digital learning.
While 74% of adults in the US may own a laptop or desktop computer, it’s important to account for those who may not have access to technology, like a reliable laptop and Internet connection.
What to do about it
When building your digital learning platform, it’s important to build it with inclusion in mind. To help account for employees who do not have a home computer, you could make sure those employees have time during their working day to complete training while at the workplace. Alternatively, you could create a library system where employees can loan laptops or equipment needed to complete their online studies.
Make sure your e-learning materials and resources are accessible for all employees. When uploading new content to your digital learning platform, consider providing resources in various formats to help learners of different abilities.
For example, employees who are hard-of-hearing or who are using their non-native language may appreciate having closed captioning on videos.
You should also take note of their varying attention spans when it comes to your tech setup. Research shows that 53% of people will leave a website if it takes too long to load. To minimize frustration due to slow loading speed, make sure your website is hosted on a trustworthy server that doesn’t risk lag or downtime.
3) Poor time management
The average employee only has 24 minutes per week to learn. As a result of this small window of opportunity for learning, you may find your team struggling to prioritize their e-learning.
What to do about it
Having a platform that uses micro-learning can help you overcome this issue of poor time management. By being aware of your employees time constraints, you can find ways to create a learning schedule that fits in with their current priorities.
You can help your team to manage their workload by allowing them to undertake digital learning at their own pace. Research shows that self-paced learning can improve memory and performance for learners.
By being flexible with deadlines, providing your team with a clear course structure to follow and frequently checking-in with them to see how they are progressing, you can help your team to manage their time spent on learning and development more effectively.
4) Lack of teacher contact
Sometimes, in-person contact works best for learning. When in a meeting or classroom setting, your team can engage in a real-time question-answer scenario, asking the facilitator or teacher any questions they may have as they arise.
In-person interaction can be especially useful for students and employees who may experience language barriers, or who need direct support due to learning difficulties.
Furthermore, 93% of employees taking part in a research study reported that they prefer to learn through on the job experience. This need for on-the-job training may also be applicable for employees undertaking manual work such as electricians or mechanics.
What to do about it
This need for real-time interaction can, unsurprisingly, be a challenge for digital learning. You could overcome issues arising from the lack of teacher contact by scheduling one-to-one virtual meetings for your students. This will allow your team to speak directly with the teacher and gain the support they need.
Having live training sessions instead of pre-recorded sessions could also help emulate the environment of classroom based learning.
Finally, you should also encourage your team to interact with and support each other during the course.
5) Low motivation and engagement
Online learning means that you have to rely on your team to be self-motivated and engaged with the learning materials. However, learner motivation can be harder to cultivate online. Understanding the importance of employee engagement is crucial for the success of your organization.
In Insights from IMPACT 2018, Bersin identified that the average employee spends 25% of their time on emails and will check their phone 150 times a day. From these statistics alone, it’s evident that it’s hard for employees to remain productive when they are faced with so many disruptions.
What to do about it
You can help increase learner motivation and engagement by creating engaging and interactive content that aligns with their goals.
An IT operations team looking to improve employee productivity also found that gamifying their employee self-learning program enabled them to increase employee engagement which, in turn, improved employee productivity.
Addressing common challenges to digital learning
By addressing challenges that your team may face with digital learning, you can help ensure they have the best foundation for developing their skills and career progression.
Creating a learning environment that meets their needs will also enable you to create a positive learning culture within your organization.
Further to this, employees value working at a company that provides learning opportunities.
Therefore, prioritizing employee learning and development and making it as accessible as possible will help to set you apart from competitors within your industry.