How Online Learning Shifts to Meet Consumer Demands

Hands typing on a laptop
Barry Kelly
September 9, 2015

Customer experience matters. I remember many years ago when just about everybody—tech pundits, educators, corporate trainers, the folks in HR—thought e-learning was a revolutionary force that would change the way people learn.

They were right.
Online learning has, and will continue to make an incredible impact on how individuals learn—in their personal and professional lives. Distance learning tools—think webinars, online courses, and the like—have given countless students and employees access to information, to improve their skills and even earn a university degree. However, over the years, e-learning has also garnered a bit of a bad rap.
While online learning has opened up an immense opportunity for scalable learning programs and courses, the experience itself hasn’t always been seen as enjoyable. Many of you know this firsthand.
Have you been required (or even forced) to take online courses at work? You know the ones that are provided on dated platforms with all kinds of tools and features to make sure you are spending enough time in the course and are clicking through all the pages. The content and the presentation taking a back seat to timers and progress bars to ensure you are present.
But the good news is that a lot is changing. Online learners are demanding more, tech companies are pushing the boundaries, and the future looks promising. So promising, that e-learning is expanding far beyond the standard corporate training slides or the higher-ed online course. In fact, now consumer brands, product companies, associations, nonprofits, and media conglomerates are leveraging online learning to better engage customers and give them a reason to come back again and again. (Thought Industries’ clients like Penton and Rodale are launching digital learning sites that do just this).
No longer do we have to settle for slow-loading presentations, bandwidth-crushing animations and bug-ridden software. We don’t have to accept the status quo of boring classes. And most importantly, we are not handcuffed to customized learning management systems (LMS) that take a bite out of your budget and only get you half of the way there.
Instead, the online industry offers deeper engagement, greater brand visibility, and increased revenue.
Here’s why e-learning circa 2015 is in fact that revolutionary force everyone predicted:

1. Engage, Inspire and Learn

Today’s always-on, always-connected consumers are looking for top-notch, interactive educational programs that they can access anywhere, anytime, and on any device. What’s hot? Interactive, cloud-based virtualized learning platforms that are fast, modern, and easy to navigate across all mobile devices as well as the desktop. Innovations in technology make it much easier to create great course content and put powerful authoring tools in the hands of instructors, authors, subject-matter experts, so they can leverage videos, photos, presentations, slideshows, music and voice-overs and more.

2. On-demand, Laser-focused Content Matters to Today’s Mobile Customers.

In 2013, 7.1 million Americans took online courses according to Online Learning Consortium. And the Ambient Insight Report estimates that self-paced online learning will reach $53 billion by 2018. What gets high marks from virtual learners? What people want is authentic, real-life content that helps improve their lives. The sales reps out in the field? They want new product orientations delivered straight to their smart phone. Premium offerings like instructor-led seminars, self-paced certification programs and online universities like those launched by Rodale are booming, too. Luckily, turnkey solutions make it easy for you to give all your customers and members exactly what they crave.

3. Off the Charts Engagement Equals Greater ROI

With a curated learning experience you can nurture the customer relationship right from the get-go. Instead of relying on Facebook, YouTube and other external platforms, you can engage your customers on your own terms, with your own content, and on your own domain. What’s more, people enrolled e-learning programs tend to stick around. We are seeing incredible time on site metrics for those engaged in a curated learning experiences on their own brand domains —10 to 90 minutes is the average time per learning experience with time per session ranging from 5 to 45 minutes.
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