Getting started: assessing online learning options

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In his latest blog, Bob Duprey, founder of Restaurant Playbooks, looks at how foodservice operators are benefiting from eLearning

By 2025, Millennials alone will make up 75% of the workforce. According to the eLearning industry article: Why microlearning is huge, the average attention span of the Millennial generation is 90 seconds.

In my previous blog post, we talked about how online training can help you attract, develop, and retain employees.

Restaurant operators that want to start using online for training their managers and teams have two choices: subscribe to generic courses or build custom training content.

With such powerful video capture and editing apps available for smartphones, and so many online training (eLearning) development tools available, it’s easy to create custom online training content for your employees, right?

You certainly can create some very useful videos that can be used for training on your smartphone. But developing effective and engaging online training that changes behaviors and delivers results is a lot more involved than recording videos and uploading to YouTube or putting together a PowerPoint presentation.

Consider your target audience

Let’s get real. Many of your employees are probably digital natives. They grew up with sophisticated games, high-quality graphic design, top notch audio soundtracks, and instant access to information, all on their smartphones. So, your employees have a pretty high bar when it comes to winning their attention in the online world.

When looking at options for using online training for your employees, you need to consider that high bar when evaluating online training options.

It takes a team of specialists to develop effective and engaging eLearning. At a minimum, a development team includes subject matter experts, instructional designers, script writers, videographers, graphic designers, coders, post-production, and testers.

Assessing eLearning options

The most time and cost-effective way to get started with eLearning is to subscribe to generic courses that are offered by an eLearning content provider. This option will typically provide a turnkey solution, so you can focus on the training delivery instead of the training development.

Here’s a few questions to consider when evaluating eLearning content providers:

  1. Is the provider specialist to the hospitality industry?

Ideally you will want to use content that has been developed by industry subject matter experts, specifically for the hospitality industry. The training is more effective and engaging when the instruction and graphics are in context.

  1. What instructional design methodologies and principles are used within the course development process?

There are a number of proven instructional design approaches, including ADDIE, Merrill’s Principles of Instruction, Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction, Bloom’s Taxonomy and the SAM Model, to name a few. You don’t need to be an expert in all of the approaches, but you can spend an hour on google to get a high-level understanding. Then you should ask the eLearning providers which approach they use, and why.

  1. Where can the content be accessed?

Will it work on a smartphone, POS, or any laptop/desktop? Is an app required? Will it work on any browser? Does the content adhere to industry standards (SCORM/xAPI) so it will work with any learning management system (LMS)?

  1. How does the eLearning drive learner engagement?

Is the content provided in bite sized chunks (microlearning)? Are game mechanics used… how? Is the training provided as a one-time event (static course) or ongoing process (dynamic course)? How often is the training course updated?

  1. How do we measure success?

Does the training provider have a process to help you measure the return on your training investment? Will they help you establish baselines and success metrics?

Asking the tough questions

These questions are just the tip of the iceberg. We created a guide and checklist for evaluating eLearning content providers. The checklist includes the tough questions that some eLearning vendors will hope you don’t ask. Please feel free to contact me for a copy or schedule a call if you would like to have a chat about your online learning questions:

Bob Duprey