We live much of today’s world online. From entertainment to connecting with friends, to find out what is happening in the world, the lines between online and offline worlds continue to blur.
With so much of our time spent online, businesses are embracing the ability to connect with their employees over the internet, too, using an online learning platform to train and educate their workforce.
In this post, we’re going to break down the signs that it's time to implement an online learning platform for your business, as well as the benefits of doing so. We’ve even got the top three options for the best online learning platform alongside some selection criteria so you can make the right choice for your business.
Ready? Let’s get started!
What Are Online Learning Platforms
Logging into learning platforms online is something that students in today’s world do every day, but getting educated in front of a screen, rather than in a classroom isn’t exactly a new idea.
As a matter of fact, people have been trying to get humans to learn remotely for way longer than you’d think.
We can trace the roots of online learning platforms to the concept of distance learning, which was first created in 1728 by shorthand teacher Caleb Philips as a weekly correspondence course sent to students by mail. As time passed, educators and business people alike saw the benefits of automatic, electronic learning devices and in the 1960s, the first computer-based tool for online learning was created by a professor at the University of Illinois. Called PLATO, or programmed logic for automatic teaching operations, this computer-based learning tool is seen as the ancestor of modern LMS systems.
Fast forward to 1990, when SoftArc introduced the first online learning platform as we know it today. FirstClass, now part of OpenText’s suite of online learning platforms, offered users the opportunity to learn from their personal computers. While it would be deemed basic in today’s digital landscape, FirstClass emerged at a time known as the beginning of the Information Age and laid the foundation for online learning platforms as we know them today.
Today, we can define online learning platforms as software application that allows businesses and organizations to:
- Create online courses
- Deliver online learning to employees
- Track attendance and performance
- Automate reporting and course pathways
- Merge online and offline learning.
With robust capabilities to train and educate your audience, today’s learning platforms online offer dynamic, interactive learning experiences and allow you to connect with learners around the world.
5 Signs Your Business Needs an Online Learning Platform
It’s no secret that employees are the key to your business’ success. Without them, you likely couldn’t even operate your business.
So it only makes sense that you’d want to invest in them to grow your business.
But how do you know it’s time for your business to try a learning online platform?
In this section, we will talk about five red flags that are signaling to you that it’s time to get your employees learning online 🚩.
1. Your Employee Training is Scattered
We’ve all been there. We mean to get those documents and presentations in order, we really do.
But more pressing things fill our calendars up, and the next thing you know, employee health and safety training is really just a handful of scavenged printouts and a slideshow from ten years ago.
That doesn’t exactly sound engaging for your employees, does it?
It has been shown that companies who use online learning platforms for employee training can see upwards of an 18% boost in engagement. And with engaged employees driving more value for their companies, you can’t afford not to invest in organized, consistent, and central employee training.
Centralizing your training in online learning platforms like Tovuti can help remove the disorganization, bring order to your learning and development plans, and create more engaged employees.
2. Your Employees Are Remote
Remote working has certainly been accelerated in the last few years out of necessity, but it won’t be going away anytime soon.
A survey from Owl Labs found that working remotely even some of the time is a reason for employees to remain loyal to the company, with 74% of those surveyed saying they would be less likely to leave if they were able to work from home. Additionally, the same survey found 92% of respondents expect to be working remotely at least one day per week in a post-COVID-19 world.
So not only do employees want to work remotely, they almost expect it. And training them can seem daunting when you’re geographically dispersed.
Offering remote training through an online video learning platform can solve that problem. You can create courses that employees can work on at home or in the office, and offer consistent training to those who may not be located near your office.
3. You Need Flexible Training Hours
Coordinating a training session with a few employees is one thing, but trying to get an entire department or company on the same page for training can feel overwhelming and from a scheduling perspective, impossible.
Particularly if you have a business where the shifts are long or overnight, getting employees to attend in-person training isn’t always a practical option.
But you can’t let your training slide. You need to reach your employees at times and places convenient to them. That way, they actually take in the information being shared.
Using an online learning platform can make it easier for employees to take learning on the go with access on mobile devices, as well as allowing them to do the training in increments that work for their schedule.
4. You Have Online and Offline Blended Learning
If you use a combination of online and offline learning, also known as blended learning, it might be time to implement an online learning platform.
Let’s say your business is focused on improving customer service in this quarter. You plan an in-person kick-off day to get everyone energized, and you plan to offer video modules throughout the quarter to keep the momentum going. Those both sound great, but how do you track and measure the effectiveness of training like this?
Measuring attendance is one thing, but how do you manage to see how each individual is progressing through the video modules you send out after?
The answer is you can’t — unless you have an online learning platform to do it for you.
Learning online platforms give you the opportunity to use automated reporting tools to monitor progress. It can also help you blend the two kinds of experiences together by tracking attendance, fees, and registrations for in-person events as well.
5. You’re Constantly Training New Hires
Growing companies need employees — that’s a no-brainer!
But training all those new hires is no easy task.
Imagine if you needed to onboard several employees at once, something not uncommon for growing businesses. You can stagger their start dates, but then you may not have enough employees when you need them. You could also start them all at once, but then you may not have enough of a workforce left to both train and operate the business.
That is quite the dilemma.
So what’s a business owner to do?
The answer is to implement an online learning platform where training can be accessed onsite or offsite that can utilize a few resources in a growing company. Another bonus? You can create employee training once, and simply update it as needed with a few clicks. Some online learning platforms like Tovuti even offer you the opportunity to create branded portals for your employees.
Benefits of Online Platform for Learning
There are far too many benefits of using an educational platform online to list here, but there are 4 key benefits of using these kinds of tools we’re going to cover here:
- Learners can set their own pace and participate in asynchronous learning.
- Employees retain the information presented in online learning better.
- Training can be taken on the go with mobile devices.
- The entire company will receive consistent training.
Set Your Own Pace
Everyone learns differently, and in unique ways, so why not offer all of your employees a flexible learning environment?
When employees don’t have to worry about attending a class on certain days and in certain locations, they can focus more on the content itself rather than the physical arrangements and stress that can create. Online learning and training do exactly that for staff who can simply log on during the workday or another time that works for them from the comfort of their normal working location — no traffic report needed.
You want your employees to learn new skills to improve the way they do their job, and in turn (hopefully) improve their productivity and keep them in the company for a longer period of time.
If that training doesn’t resonate with your employees in the first place, however, you just wasted a whole lot of time and money.
The benefit to using an online platform for learning to train your employees is that they are more likely to retain the information than in traditional classroom settings — five times more likely, to be specific.
Employees Can Go Mobile
Not every one of your employees sits at a desk to do their job. Many professionals work on the road, like salespeople, and can’t find the time to dedicate to attending a seminar or pulling out their computer to log into a training session.
That’s where an online platform for learning comes in. Providers like Tovuti offer your employees the ability to take training on the go and use their mobile devices to check into learning opportunities happening live, listen to the material later, or even get in a quiz on the go.
We all make mistakes, and that’s ok.
But sometimes, it can be detrimental to your business when managers or other employees make mistakes during the training or onboarding process. Not to a fault of their own, they may have simply forgotten or don’t work in the role they are expected to train.
Turning your training over to an online platform for learning allows you to create courses and training sessions that employees across the company use, creating consistency in the materials covered for all employees, new and existing. And when there’s a change in your processes or regulatory requirements, you can simply update a single course, but reach every employee in the company at once. Online learning platforms allow you to stop relying on manager memory and clunky training manuals to get new hires up to speed.
Challenges of Online Learning Platforms
Like anything else, there can be challenges with using a learning platform online for your business.
Arguably, these are challenges that every trainer has to worry about when engaging with a workforce. In an online learning environment, they can feel magnified.
Thankfully, with the right online learning platform in your hands, you can make these challenges disappear faster than you can say, “happy and engaged workforce”.
Common challenges, and how a robust, modern online learning platform like Tovuti can solve them, are outlined in the table below.
6 Criteria to Rank Platform for Online Learning
No two online learning platforms are the same. You may have even noticed this already in your online learning quest. Some platforms are designed for large, multinational companies, while others offer bare-bones basic features. And others may seem incredibly similar to one another, yet have vastly different prices.
Getting past the noise isn’t always easy, so we’re here to equip you with the selection criteria you need to keep in mind when choosing a platform for online learning for your business’ training needs.
We’ll get into the details, but we summed up the criteria in the table below to get you started.
When you’re buying a car, you don’t always have to choose the sports car to get the job done. At the same time, you wouldn’t buy a small sedan if you had 4 children and a large dog, now would you?
The same logic applies to choosing an online learning platform. You need to choose one with the right features for your business.
You’ll want to consider features from two perspectives: the administrators and the learners. On the learner side of things, you’ll want to make sure there are modern tools to keep your audience interested and engaged throughout the learning process. This can be things like interactive videos and gamified features.
For your admins, you’ll want to see easy-to-use course uploading and creation tools, robust reporting on learner success, as well as opportunities to interact with your audience through video meetings and discussion boards.
When you’re considering the usability of an online platform for learning, you need to think about your learners’ skill sets in context with the software you’re considering. You may have someone creating an online course who has never done so before, or you could have a computer whiz on your hands. It truly depends on your unique circumstances.
Regardless of the experience levels you or your employees may have to work with online learning, you’re going to want to make sure the interface is modern, simple to understand, and offers both the administrator and learner access to help when they encounter problems.
Businesses in today’s digital world rely on a suite of tools to get the job done. We call this our “tech stack” and in order to choose the right online learning platform, you need to know if any of the software and tools in your tech stack will integrate with it or not.
This means that you’ll want to check out a list of software integrations and compare it to your key tools before signing up for anything to avoid unnecessary headaches.
Everyone needs help from time to time, especially when you’re trying something new.
As we mentioned above, the skillset of your employees implementing online learning can really matter, but you’re going to want them to be able to access help when they need it. Having an online learning provider with multiple ways to get help helps avoid delays, stress, and confusion. This can be everything from phone to email to support ticket systems.
This might seem like the easiest criteria to rank for. Lowest price first and most expensive last.
But you’d be missing the subtleties of cost. You see, fee structures may make some online learning platforms appear cheaper, but may leave you without key features. You can also miss out on key support when you choose a provider based solely on price.
That being said, you should still aim to find an online platform for learning that offers you the best price for the number of features you’ll use, and allows you to add in extra features as you need them. Think of something that you can grow with rather than something you’ll outgrow, despite its smaller price tag.
6. Implementation Time
As much as we’d all like to imagine having endless time to get our online learning platforms up and running, that’s just not the case. And while some may have more time than others, you don’t exactly want to waste precious time on implementation.
Ensuring you choose a platform that offers an implementation specialist, as well as training to help get you off the ground is essential for a smooth implementation and reduced delays.
3 Best Online Learning Platforms for Businesses
When it comes to learning platforms online, there are plenty of options to consider and it can be hard to know what works best for your business.
That’s why we’ve checked out the rankings from top review sites like Capterra into account, and compiled a list of the three best online learning platforms for businesses so you can spend less time searching, and more time getting your employees ready to learn online.
One thing we’d like to mention before we get started is that the rankings here are based on general use, and some specialized, industry-specific online learning platforms may not rank highly in this kind of list. Our point is that you’ll want to consider the features (among other selection criteria we mentioned above) are suited to your business’ needs alongside the ranking.
The top three online learning platforms we’re going to cover today are:
- SAP Litmos
We couldn’t make a list of the best online learning platforms without including Tovuti! But it’s for good reason. Tovuti offers you a powerful platform that won’t take months to get your employees started with online learning, but rather weeks. It’s fast, effective, and highly rated by our users.
Tovuti has the features your business needs in an online learning platform. From the features to keep your employees engaged like interactive videos and gamified features, as well as the tracking and reporting capabilities to keep learners on track. You can even sell courses and manage events for your employees. There are far too many features to list here, so scheduling a call with Tovuti is the best way to find out how this online learning platform can benefit your business.
Offering features we like to see, including video conferencing, gamification, reporting tools, and off-the-shelf courses ready to use, SAP Litmos is trusted by enterprise-level businesses to train employees.
What this software is missing, however, is some of the built-in course authoring tools we like to see accessible to administrators and users. Reviewers also mention that the log-in portal often causes problems for users, creating an administrative backlog and some frustration.
In operation since 2005, Docebo bills itself as a “learning suite” that offers easy component-based selections to build your online learning platform. It allows you to choose solutions from compliance training to employee onboarding.
With easy user functionality and interface highlighted in customer reviews, Docebo offers a robust learning platform online for businesses. One thing we’d mention is this is a huge platform, servicing clients like Walmart and Opentable, so if you’re a small to medium business, their tools may not be the best fit.
Learning platforms online are an easy way to reach employees with engaging training content, whether they are remote or not, and can benefit your organization in a number of ways. They allow you to deliver training consistently, and with automated ease.
Choosing an online learning platform can seem daunting at first, with dozens of options available. You’ll want to consider which selection criteria are important to your organization, and make sure you check out the reviews before signing up for anything.
And if you’re looking for a robust, modern, and easy-to-use platform, Tovuti is the choice for you. Watch our demo today to learn more about how our online learning platform can benefit your organization.