You’ve finally reached the end of the development phase of a new eLearning course. Everything is all set, as your content is 100% complete and loaded into your new LMS. Your initial instinct must be telling you to go ahead and send that link to all 1000 employees, so they can see what an amazing course your design and development team has been toiling over for the past three months. But is that a wise way to launch your new eLearning course?
If you’ve been in the learning and development practice for some time, you will know that launching a new training program the traditional way entails careful preparation. The reason: people are not always happy about trying out new things, especially things that require their precious time and effort. Even more so, if you are launching a totally new way to learn. If you do send out that e-maul, here are some possible scenarios:
- Your email link will be considered spam and will be ignored, even blocked by some careful employees.
- A few employees will read your email, but will not know why they are receiving an invitation to training. It will be ignored, all the same.
- A small percentage will click the link, but will not know what to do once they are in the LMS. Chances are, they won’t be able to go through the course even if they wanted to.
Here is a step by step guide to ensure that the eLearning course gets the spotlight it deserves right at the bat.
Get Support from Sponsors and Stakeholders
An eLearning project will not materialize without sponsors. These parties or individuals invest in the training due to a specific need. It’s ideal that sponsors, as well as other stakeholders are involved in the process of developing the course. Unfortunately, this is not always the case as these stakeholders have other more pressing responsibilities. A meeting with the sponsor and stakeholders before the launch will help you get the support you need as your eLearning course goes live.
Here are some talking points that you can discuss with your sponsors and stakeholders:
- Recall the reason the course was created in the first place and discuss how the completed course fulfills its purpose.
- Ask stakeholders to mention the course to line managers or learners during one of their team meetings. Also, request that they discuss how the course will help resolve known issues or bridge identified gaps in the team.
- Discuss particulars such as distribution of access codes, target completion dates and support.
- If the stakeholders are the line managers, request that they talk to the learners about the reason they are enrolled in the training, what is expected of them after completing the training and where it sits in their personal development plan. If the course is part of compliance, ask them to discuss how completing or missing the training may affect their score card.
Put on a Road Show
You can think of your eLearning course as a commodity that you need to market to target participants, otherwise it will be sent into oblivion wasting thousands of dollars in training investment. A roadshow will effectively get the word about your new course out into the workplace.
To start planning your roadshow, think about your goals for the launch of your course. Which target audience is your priority? Which teams have more influence than others, so you can leverage their influence and gain promoters for your course? How many learners need to see your course at the launch?
Next is to make your roadshow creative and fun for attendees. Do you plan to have games and prizes during the roadshow? Are you offering incentives to the first learners who log in to the course? Will you serve snacks and other refreshments at the event?
Lastly, ask a member of the management, even C-level executives to speak at the roadshow. Leadership support is important in encouraging employees to take part in any activity, and that includes training.
Ensure that Technology Works Seamlessly
Like any piece of technology, your eLearning course is not immune to bugs and glitches. Issues may arise in the content, or in the LMS side. It’s best to run a beta test before your hit the green light and ask users to log in to your course. Ask beta testers to check if access codes are working, pages are loading properly, links are pulling up the right pages, or if there is any slowness in the system.
Aside from testing existing features, you can ask testers for suggestions on how to improve the course. If the suggested feature is expected to make a huge difference to the user experience , engagement and completion rate of your course, you may want to squeeze the change in before your launch to get better results at the very beginning.
It will also be wise to check how many learners you will be expecting to access your course at the launch. You want to avoid a delivery service crash or an error message to greet your learners at your most-awaited launch.
Create a Support Team for Learners
Because eLearning is consumed by the audience at their own time and space, it is harder for them to get help when they hit a roadblock or has a question about the course.
Before launch, build a team that will serve as a point of contact for learners who are enrolled in your online course. It’s best practice to have someone from the design and development side, as well as the technology side to assist learners who need help.
You may also provide several ways to contact your support team. Email and online messenger are typical, but you may also give a phone number in case someone has an urgent concern to report. The key to providing support is responding in real time and working with learners to get issues resolved swiftly.