Digital transformation seems to be the buzzword of 2021, and it’s no wonder. The past year has forced many organizations to either accelerate their timelines for digitization or suddenly make it a priority if it wasn’t before. One item at the top of almost everyone’s to-do list: migrating in-person learning online. Yet the rush generated by the pandemic has often led to stop-gap solutions rather than broad, permanent transformations, as the name suggests.
The hard truth is that most digital transformations will fail to achieve their target impact. One of the most common culprits that contributes to this lack of success is, quite simply, not implementing an effective change management strategy to bolster the process.
Now that companies have started introducing digital learning solutions, it’s time not only to think about the advantages these transformative technologies can bring, but also to put in place change management techniques to support and sustain positive business outcomes from these changes.
Understand the Benefits a Digital Transformation Can Bring
The business world has long been on a path to digitization as technology has evolved and workforces have become increasingly global. In a survey conducted at the end of 2020, 74% of employees said they’d want to work remotely two or more days per week going forward, and 56% of executives said they expected to increase levels of remote work.
For many organizations, digital learning is becoming the only way to efficiently and consistently offer learning and development to dispersed learners—an undertaking that can come with challenges but also brings benefits.
1. Get Access to More Valuable Data
Many learning technologies can give you access to insights that would be difficult or impossible to ascertain in a traditional classroom setting. You may be able to answer questions like:
- What types of activity trends are you seeing? If you notice large spikes around when new hires start and complete their onboarding, are there additional learning programs they can take advantage of next?
- How many learners participate within a given timeframe? Are you seeing the results you wanted, or do you need to take steps to increase adoption?
- How are people engaging with the content? How much time do they stay on each page or spend watching a video, as an example? Are they just clicking through to get to a quiz or certificate or completion, or are they genuinely engaging with online learning and demonstrating new skills in the workplace based on it?
Combining data from your learning technologies and other sources, such as your human resource information system (HRIS), can offer deeper insights into who is accessing your learning programs and if completing them leads to improved performance and career progression for employees
2. Reaching More People with Online Learning
Providing virtual programs can expand access to learning and professional development in several ways. People can participate without having to physically travel, reducing administrative costs for your organization and potentially opening the door for learners to participate in a greater number of more diverse courses. It could also help you find new ways to inspire under-engaged audiences, including people who may not normally participate in in-person session.
3. Make Learning a Journey—Not an Event
When learning takes place in a fixed time and space, it becomes something that happens when people need to complete mandatory training or occasionally upskill. When it’s online, it can become a continuous and steady part of people’s day-to-day lives.
But Is Digital Learning as Effective as Face-to-Face?
One of the most common concerns I hear is the potential loss of social interactions, networking opportunities, and peer-to-peer learning—all of which happen so organically in a classroom. These concerns aren’t unfounded, but neither are they incapable of being overcome. You just need to be more intentional about creating online spaces for social learning and thinking about how technology will enable social interactions when you’re designing digital learning programs.
Make Change Management a Pillar of Your Online Learning Transformation
Even if change management wasn’t a high priority during the initial days of your transition from in-person to online learning, it isn’t too late to start implementing change management techniques help maximize the effectiveness of your digital transformation projects. Instead of being quick-fix solutions to an unforeseeable crisis, you can make them strategic investments that drive business goals.
According to the 2008 IBM Global Services Making Change Work study, these are the top factors that contribute to a successful change.
1. Secure Executive Sponsorship
Executive sponsors can impact the success of a change initiative in so many ways—driving alignment between the specific initiative and overall business objectives and serving as a voice to communicate changes to employees.
Saying you need executive sponsorship and getting it, however, are two different things. D2L has an Executive Sponsor Checklist specifically for learning technology implementations that can help you assess your level of sponsorship, provide tips to your sponsor to help them be more effective, and provide suggestions to change leaders on how to maintain sponsorship throughout a project.
2. Encourage Employee Involvement
Organizational change often boils down to individual change. To encourage individuals within organizations to take action, you need to bring them into the process. This can help get employees invested in the change, generate awareness along the way, and enable you to better support them by identifying the tools and resources they need most. You can use Prosci’s ADKAR model as a starting point to understand why and when employees need to be involved.
You can also check out our on-demand webinar, which outlines four strategies you can leverage for building a culture of learning remotely.
3. Provide Honest and Timely Communication
It might go against the typical way of communicating in a business setting, but when it comes to change management you need to communicate a lot more than you might think—typically, five to seven times over the course of the change initiative. D2L has created a Communication Planning workbook to get you started on crafting your communications.
Ultimately, whether you’re still planning your online learning programs or have already launched them, you can apply these change management best practices to drive adoption, growth, and long-term success.
To understand how leading organizations have made a successful shift from face to face to online programs. For more information on managing change for your digital learning transformation, download our strategy guide, which can help you create your own personalized adoption playbook.