E-Learning 101: Train Your Franchisees and Staff More Effectively
E-learning has earned its stripes as a convenient alternative to traditional corporate training models, which typically have involved flipcharts and laser pointers. Today employees can learn new skills during their commute, in the gym, or simply during quiet periods at work, saving valuable time and benefiting from a different kind of learning experience.
Online learning, where and when it suits employees, means information often comes in palatable, bite-sized formats for easy absorption. It's a refreshing contrast to a classroom-based, day-long information overload.
For franchisors with multiple franchisees to keep informed and updated, the benefits are that this kind of training is far cheaper to deliver than physical alternatives, onsite or off, even with video production costs factored in.
By delivering content this way, franchisors can also be assured that what is being taught is absolutely consistent for all students (both franchisee management and staff), especially important for regulatory compliance training and for maintaining a consistent brand presence.
But as well as being consistent, it also must be relevant. Through user permissions, online learning platforms will let companies deliver courses to relevant users only. For example, an e-learning program delivered to staff at a convenience store franchise might help ensure that all stores are trading legally with regard to age-restricted products and improve customer service; while training delivered to franchisee management at the same store could cover areas such as staff retention, or how to build a more efficient and engaged workforce.
There are limitations, of course. A good learning environment relies heavily on audience participation and the chance to practice what is being taught. But e-learning platforms are getting more interactive, and watching a teacher lecture on video is just the beginning. Most e-learning platforms now incorporate some level of gamification, with activities and short quiz questions that check on whether information has been absorbed.
The other thing missing from e-learning is student-to-student interaction. Training and practicing new skills with colleagues away from the office can be a good team-bonding experience, as well a chance to step away from the daily grind.
While e-learning platforms offer tools to enable virtual student-to-student interaction, nothing beats the real thing. This is why e-learning should never replace physical training altogether. Blend different training methods to get the best results, and to keep your people motivated and engaged.
7 best practices
Think about your favorite teacher and why you liked that person so much. Did they use humor and stories as teaching methods? Did they mix up the learning experience so there was plenty of interaction and participation? Did they set unusual projects that were fun to complete? Perhaps you liked this teacher because they paid attention to you, took notice of your individual development, spoke to you as a peer, and never patronized.
All these things can be incorporated into your virtual business learning platform. Follow these seven tips to create the ultimate e-learning experience for your franchisees.
- Don't cut corners on production. If necessary, call in experts to create and review online training courses before they are made available, as well as to deliver the course content. You may have the expertise in-house. With some great lighting and an interesting backdrop, it really doesn't take much to produce a professional-looking video.
- Be human. Your teacher doesn't have an audience yet, but they do have to be engaging. Encourage them to use storytelling and real-world examples to bring points to life. This helps students remember key details.
- Keep it relevant. Built-in permission and notification systems will ensure e-learning courses are presented only to those users who need them. Similarly, training courses can be assigned validity time periods if the content is likely to become out of date.
- Make courses user-friendly. If a student wants to revisit a certain section of a course, make it easy to find by bookmarking with keywords and labeling content accurately. Your e-learning platform also should log where a student left off and inform course creators when training has been completed.
- Enable interaction. Some training sessions could be delivered in a live webinar, as well as being pre-recorded. Support real-time collaboration by letting learners post questions and comments and add "likes." Look at whether your chosen platform allows additional corporate social networking features so learners can interact with one another as well as with the course provider. Request feedback from students so you can make your next training course even better.
- Offer printable resources. Downloadable documents with useful infographics or visual summaries may help some students retain information better.
- Make it easy to access. Students will be more inclined to learn if training is easily accessible. Flag up new courses to relevant users on your company intranet and use reminders to make sure it's completed.
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