Research Articles

Live Online Learning Platform Considerations

Live Online Learning Platform Considerations are just that, considerations. This piece is really more of an Op-ed than a research article and I was motivated to write it because of recent client trends, feedback, and requests to both deliver and collaborate with their online learning environments. I am going to approach this with continuity as it relates to my “code,” that pure consultants should not show bias to a technology, but show critical thinking toward the application of a technology within a client’s eco-system.

Here in lies the rub for me, as we (AMS) have been forced to select an enterprise technology for our own internal training delivery, we discovered that we were “leaning” into that with clients. This was/is working with some clients and not so much with others, for various reasons. Being a client centric firm, awareness to this small, but still significant divergence from our own code has become the point of this Op-ed within our Research Article catalog. Please note that this piece is supported by several other research articles noted in the navigation to the left, such as, The New Learning Eco-System, for those who seek a wider perspective into Live Online and Blended Learning Solutions in the “next normal.”

Before I delve into the context of this topic, let me take a moment and frame my perspective. I have been leading the firm I founded for close to 30 years. In that time we have had the good fortune of serving some of the greatest enterprise clients in the world. Our practice areas have always been delivered via two verticals within Training and Consulting activities. So, my frame of refence is not only that of a Management Consultant, but also as a Sr. Learning Executive, and from this perspective I share the following thoughts around the Live Online Learning Platforms.

This is not going to be a “buyers” perspective, will not mention any technology by name, or highlight pros and cons. You can expect a perspective of what should be most critical; can the platform you select provide at desk application of skills, maintain engagement, and create a simulated class-room experience? These are simple questions, yet any Learning Leader should have these three variables at the top of the shopping list. Why? Simply put, they frame the “learning experience” and dictate the emotional reaction in the moment of training, thus building the baseline for your learner’s takeaways.

Okay, enough of the mumbo jumbo, lets get to the meat of the topic. Most of the emerging and proven Live Online technologies have the same tools. They can all offer breakout rooms, allow content uploads, screen sharing, audio options, and polls. So, if this is the case why does it matter what platform we select and what variables separate good and bad Live Online learning experiences? I believe these are the two areas we need to discuss, lets break them down:

Why does it matter what platform we select?

  • Enterprise encryption/security protocol
  • Browser distribution protocol
  • Mobile access and device capability
  • LMS integration
  • Blended experience and accessibly

The above items will dictate how quickly you can mobilize, distribute, and align to compliance measures across your enterprise. I have found that “patience” and time are at a higher premium than ever. If you are not delivering a “turn-key” experience, you are not going to get the engagement needed to drive success or uptake, “keep it simple.”  Many organizations that are delivering highly technical or secure types of content will designate the security variable higher and thus drive the rest of the list by priority. This is one of my key points. Think about the variables within the context of your business and prioritize them first. Then, back into the technology that best fits your highest priority needs. Some platforms are lower risk but higher usability, you don’t want to have a conflict from the start because the variables were not prioritized initially.

What variables separate good and bad Live Online learning experiences?

  • Instructional Design functionality support
  • Engagement tools enhancement
  • Classroom simulation and continuity
  • Audience peer to peer interaction
  • Visually appealing and user friendly environment

The above items will dictate how much impact your learning will have across the enterprise audience. Impact is a big consideration because it is the point of measure we all want to see clearly through at desk application and ultimately performance improvement against the new skills. Organizations that are highly effective on the Live Online delivery space, are the ones who have spent time redesigning programs and helping the facilitator to adapt within the environment. The technology platform will only bring to life what the creator puts into the ingredients. The ingredients of an on-site event are similar but not exactly the same as a Live Online event. Thus, we must consider these variables through a different lens and learn to accommodate the same desired outcomes but with a varied set of tools to get there. The design, delivery skills, and exercises must be in line with the Live Online environment.

Okay, lets pull this all together.

The leading Online Learning Platforms are close to each other in functionality and can accommodate most enterprise needs. The words “close” and “most” in that sentence are the reason you should consider the variables above and then draw your own conclusions based on the exact and prioritized needs of your teams.

The delivery, design, and facilitator are just as big in the variable list as the above and must be considered in the Live Online quality equation. In fact, because of the parody in the platforms, these variables are really the most critical in my opinion. And with that, I can close this Op-ed, because that is the real point and leads to the following actions to select a Live Online Learning platform:

  • Consider the variables of your learning needs and delivery environment
  • Ensure your design, delivery, and facilitators are aligned with the Live Online environment
  • Establish measurable standards for delivery, outcome, and application
  • Keep things simple, align with what works best for the majority based on existing platform experience

The next normal is here, change will continue to come with growth and we (as learning leaders) are being offered a great opportunity to innovate. Take hold of this opportunity and let’s all lead the industry into the future by building the skills necessary to succeed!

Written by Phil Ventresca, M.B.A.