The advantages of eLearning

When building an eLearning program, take a strategic approach to boost employee engagement, collaboration and retention

By Tim Harnett

These days, there is an increased focus on employee engagement and retention, and as the labor market tightens, organizations should prioritize keeping high-value employees in-house. At the same time, changing market conditions mean all employees will need new skills and competencies. Creating ongoing competency groups for increased knowledge retention should be a priority. However, these learning objectives can’t always be addressed with in-person training, which can be time-consuming and costly to deliver. In this context, eLearning takes on greater importance, as organizations look for more efficient ways to train their high-value employees and align eLearning objectives to corporate goals.

Going forward, organizational spending on virtual learning will increase. Recent Chief Learning Officer research suggests that half of all organizations will target eLearning delivery as a top priority for L&D technology spending over the next 18 months.1 While eLearning has long been a tool for compliance training and education, Bryna Dash, vice president of corporate and government sales for Blackboard, believes eLearning can and should be used to train high-value employees. “You want workers to collaborate and work more effectively, no matter where they are,” Dash says. “Blackboard training experts can help design leadership training courses for high-value employees, to develop those skills in this subset of the employee base. These employees might be very mobile within an organization, so being able to reach them anywhere and anytime is crucial to providing them with the skills they need.”

How can organizations leverage their eLearning programs for maximum value? Dash suggests building up virtual teams, using the metrics most aligned with your business goals and ensuring learning continues after courses are complete.

Solidify your virtual teams

Reaching high-value employees with learning and development programs should be central to any organization’s learning strategy. Allowing employees to work together and collaborate is just as important in a virtual environment as an offline one and will contribute to a culture of learning at any organization. “When you give employees time and a place to gather and learn from each other, they become a force multiplier within the company,” Dash says. The research agrees: placing employees into online communities of practice through knowledge management systems leaves workers feeling more productive and engaged.2

“With engaging eLearning experiences, you help create that tipping point where learning transfers to on-the-job knowledge.”

One of the greatest challenges organizations face is employee engagement, which remains stubbornly low.3 Giving employees the opportunity to work in teams on eLearning courses can help increase those engagement levels. “At Blackboard, we have a robust methodology designed to give our customers the templates they need to create meaningful programs,” Dash says. “By engaging your learners, you help create that tipping point where learning transfers to on-the-job knowledge.”

Measure the metrics that matter

One of the greatest challenges to understanding the impact eLearning has on the organization comes in using the right metrics for eLearning programs. More than 58 percent of organizations agree that their overall measurement strategy is fully aligned to the learning strategy,4 but there’s still much to do, particularly in measuring the impact of eLearning. Metrics can be broad or specific, but in all instances, they should be tied to organizational goals. “The metrics you take away from your eLearning course should be tied to the goals of your business,” Dash says, “whether that’s a broad objective like bettering employee engagement or a specific goal like providing employees with the exact tools they need to do their work. Virtual courses give you access to a wealth of data, but you need a plan to know both what data you have and how it impacts your business. Be thoughtful about what you’re trying to achieve and make sure you have the right resources to go there.”

Learning continues even after the course is over

Learning doesn’t end once the webinar finishes or the training is complete. Dash advises organizations to continue to assess employees to ensure they have internalized the material. “There’s always a bit of a drop-off once learners have finished a course,” Dash says, “so it’s important to allow for repeat learning to ensure employees have really internalized the material. This in turn helps retention because employees have the knowledge necessary for use in their job.”

As high-value employees become more essential to solving business challenges, being able to train employees virtually on high-impact skills will be critical to organizational success.

Learn more about how Blackboard can develop an eLearning program for your organization at

1 2018 Chief Learning Officer State of the Industry survey.

2 Oesch, T. ((2017). “Online communities of practice support social learning among knowledge workers.” Training Industry

3 Harter, J. (2017). Dismal employee engagement is a sign of global mismanagement. Gallup.

4 2018 Chief Learning Officer State of the Industry survey.

Blackboard is a global leader in lifelong learning. With over 100 million learners and 20 years of experience, we’ve perfected the art of effective learning. We’ve helped over 1,600 corporate and government organizations around the world deliver outcomes-based learning that drives employee growth in a measurable way. Our ed tech platform of products and services provides a trusted one stop solution that powers learning programs that make employees and organizations thrive.