3 eLearning courses that could benefit your business


With eLearning, your people can absorb more information, faster, by choosing what, when and how to learn. There’s no need to schedule classrooms, or travel to another building.

That’s all well, and good. But, what should you and your staff be learning? Here are three suggestions:

1. Consumer Learning

Consumer learning is activity by individuals (i.e., your customers) who want to further their knowledge in areas of personal interest. Things like hobbies, sports, nutrition, fitness, fine arts, crafts, career development, and self-improvement. Quality and presentation are paramount. Customers want a high-end multimedia experience as they learn. Anytime. Anywhere. Accessible on mobile, preferably.

What’s in it, for you? Well, it’s possible to generate new profits by delivering online learning products. An educated customer is a buying customer. For example, Craftsy has sold 2 million online courses to consumers passionate about knitting, cake decorating and cooking. No qualifications or exams, just well-constructed courses.

Three main business models have emerged:

i)  The Marketplace: Branded websites bringing together experts and content creators from all walks of life. They offer a catalogue of online courses; for sale, or free. Sites are designed to be one-stop destinations for a wide range of needs.

ii) Verticals: Niche destinations focusing on a particular subject, which is broken down into sections. They have many courses, in subcategories. Examples include cooking, decorating, and crafts. Verticals foster a tight-knit community of learners who are passionate about one subject area.

iii) Direct-to-Consumer Platforms: Here, businesses, publishers and bloggers speak directly to their target audience. One of the main benefits is keeping customers and prospects on your own domain. This approach also gives insights into customer behaviour (think quizzes answered, slides viewed and videos watched).

2. Apprenticeships

An apprentice is trained to do a job to an agreed standard, set by a representative trade body The Sector Skills Council. Trainees receive a qualification relevant to the workplace. They’ll be trained specifically for a long-term position that needs to be filled, and the employer can make sure they’re trained to the proper level.

eLearning courses can be hosted online or on the company intranet (or both), and customised to suit an organisation’s needs. They can equally be used to teach employers and workmates the benefits of taking on an apprenticeship student.

Learners can update and refresh their understanding periodically, as all the information is stored and readily accessible. There are no paper-based forms involved, so the approach is eco-friendly.

And consider these findings, from a recent survey by Skills Training UK:

  • 80% of companies that ran apprenticeships report a significant increase in employee retention. By training, you’re ensuring a successful future, with a high level of skill in the workplace
  • 77% of employers feel that – by offering a way into a full-time job with prospects – apprenticeship makes them more desirable and competitive
  • 76% of employers agree that taking on apprentices makes the workplace more productive. And if they’re all trained to the proper standard, you won’t have to keep checking up on your workers’ competence
  • 81% of consumers favour a company that takes on apprentices. By offering apprenticeships, you’re giving something back to the community – and people appreciate that
  • 92% of employers agree that apprentices lead to a more motivated and happy workforce. Having invested in them, they feel cared for and are more likely to work hard, with a degree of loyalty to your brand
  • 83% of employers currently rely on apprentices to ensure a skilled workforce in future.  And a fifth are hiring more apprentices now, to help them through the tough economic times

It makes financial sense. Employers who take on apprentices aged between 16 and 18 only pay their salary. The government funds their training, which means that you can invest in the future and be supported while doing it.

3. Gamification

Author Brian Burke, an expert on disruptive technologies, has for three years been leading research on gamification in business. His book, Gamify: How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things pretty much says it all, in the title.

For businesses, success in gamification means much more than slapping some points, merit badges, and leaderboards on top of a business process. It starts with clearly identifying:

• Organisational goals and ways to measure them

• Employee (“player”) goals and what motivates core behaviours

Having established these, look for overlaps. Then, build your gamified system around those. For commercial sales, you might conduct research into product knowledge, cataloguing, how sales territories are determined, compensation, commissions, etc. On that basis, you create a system that’s meaningful to sales teams.

It could be as simple as converting thick, printed product catalogues into a virtual mall, where salespeople can quickly find specs on any product via smartphone or tablet.

Think outside the box:

  • Make a “game within the game.” And set targets. Send out weekly emails (for example) with a “back story” to engage players. Create “mystery players” and challenge learners to beat their high scores
  • Offer external rewards. Smartphones, gift cards, stuff from your product catalogue. Material gain is motivating!
  • Incorporate real-world scenarios. Always ask: “How will learners be able to apply this knowledge on the job?”

And, have fun with it. Good luck.