One of the least popular places that small businesses like to invest in is continuing education for their employees. Experts who study this phenomenon are puzzled at why this is so commonplace. A more highly trained workforce provides better value to the company, yet when it comes to spending the time on it, companies are reluctant to send their workers away for training.
Of course, this isn’t true in all industries. Public works and utilities are constantly training their employees to use new technology, better health and safety practices, as well as internal training that helps spread new and better procedures to all employees. Medical professionals are constantly studying (and practicing) new techniques that can help save lives and improve their patients’ conditions. Law enforcement and fire safety employees requires frequent training, as do scientists and engineers.
Workforce education no longer means that you have to send your employees away on expensive trips or to learning centers. Interactive, online learning platforms are available that make it easy for your employees to spend time learning without having to leave their desks. Many learning courses are available for people to study at their own pace, which improves retention of information.
There are many different online platforms available for educating your workforce. There are downloadable options which can be accessed anywhere your device is available, and there are cloud-based educational systems which can be accessed any time you have internet access.
You can also choose between different types of e-learning platforms. “learning management system” keeps track of the education materials as well as participants, while “distance learning/collaboration” systems provide the mechanisms for people to run or attend classes virtually or work together in real time using video and audio within the program.
Learning Management Systems
The basic paradigm of cloud-based learning software is a learning management system, also known as an LMS. Every LMS platform works using the familiar terminology and processes of a typical school. Schools have students and faculty, as well as administrative staff. Schools have departments that help categorize courses, courses that students register to attend, and individual classes that students take where a different topic is taught each session. The LMS can provide instructors with the ability to set assignments, quizzes, and tests, as well as provide resources for each class that is relevant to the lesson. LMS platforms can also have discussion forums where students can ask questions and interact with other students around the globe.
Instructors prepare for their classes by adding course materials to the course or individual classes, so that students can access the material easily. They can run reports on the courses and students to track attendance, progress and other metrics.
This cloud-based LMS provides an easy and intuitive interface so teachers can set up courses and classes easily. The company provides mobile applications so teachers and students can access their class information from wherever they may be. Companies and schools pay for their LMS to be hosted by Instructure, so once you sign up and configure your school, your LMS is ready to be used. It is available not only as a cloud-based LMS, but also as an Open Source project you can install on your own server if you have the resources to do so.
One of the oldest and most popular LMS platforms, Moodle is the standard by which others are judged. It has a mature interface and is used by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. It is available in 140 languages and is used by universities and small companies alike. Moodle has a built-in calendar, robust tracking and reporting features, and supports educational standards like SCORM. Moodle also features a plugin architecture, so developers can add functionality to the system to manage specific needs and features for an online learning environment.
Aimed more towards corporate customers, TalentLMS is a popular and easy-to-use LMS. It prides itself on mobile accessibility, as well as popular user experience. If corporate branding is an important element in the decision of which LMS to use, TalentLMS provides a white label option, where you can remove their branding and replace it with your own.
One of the most popular LMS tools worldwide, Edmodo has millions of users around the world. It’s intuitive interface makes it easy for teachers to plan class lessons, enabling educators to reach their goals. Edmodo is also gamified, meaning it awards badges for performing specific tasks or achievements. This makes working in the platform fun and challenging for employees to “compete” against each other.
Another commercial-centric LMS platform. Docebo boasts more than twenty different features so you can build a highly-customized learning experience for your employees. It integrates with Salesforce, a popular customer relationship management platform, as well a G Suite, Google Drive, and over a dozen other third-party services.
Distance Learning/Collaboration Systems
There are platforms that allow students and teachers to interact live with each other during a scheduled class. Using video and audio connections, distance learning and collaboration systems provide instructors and educators with a virtual classroom experience. In addition to providing multimedia elements, these platforms also provide digital mechanisms that are commonly found in classroom environments. Digital whiteboards allow teachers and students to show live work, videos can be viewed as well as slide presentations, Web links can connect students to resources on the web, and other features.
This cloud-based platform for virtual corporate training has a robust classroom interface that allows instructors to present to multiple attendees using browser-based multimedia or using a dial-in number. It provides different panes within the virtual classroom so students can see slide presentations, access Web links, write on a whiteboard, and view videos.
Once the only choice for online video collaboration, WebEx is a popular Web conferencing tool used by distance educators. WebEx has a suite of online tools so instructors can manage their classrooms, schedule class sessions in advance, and offer either small, interactive classrooms or larger virtual auditoriums to allow a greater number of participants.
The Zoho brand provides a wide array of cloud-based tools for companies. ShowTime is their web conferencing and online training tool that provides virtual classroom services so companies can provide training sessions to participants in remote locations. As with other software platforms for e-learning, ShowTime provides all of the tools necessary to present educational materials, including screen sharing and recording, group and private chat, presenter control of participant audio and video, as well as testing assessment and report analytics.
Grokworx Virtual Classroom
Virtual Classroom provides instructors with a comprehensive set of tools to manage their classrooms and participants. In addition to videoconferencing, it offers a private, audio-only room where you can communicate with participants on a one-on-one basis. Instructors can annotate presentations in real time, and offers desktop sharing and text chat. It provides assessment tools so instructors can quiz participants and grade assignments.
Educating your workforce is an investment in your company’s future success and your employee knowledge base. By creating an online learning resource for your company, you are making sure that your company stays competitive to meet all your business challenges.