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Drive Growth for Your Organization With High-Impact Online Learning

  • 10 Min Read

Learn how high-impact online learning can help your organization scale its education programs and drive sustainable growth.


Your organization is all about education. It’s the engine that powers your business and what you’ve developed your reputation around. You’ve also seen the ripple effects it can have—from helping one person chart their own educational or professional course to empowering them to inspire others and better support the communities they serve.

But finding new, sustainable paths to growth is becoming a challenge. We’re still recovering from the disruption of the past few years and figuring out what we might need to be ready for next. Learners’ expectations have also shifted. While in-person educational experiences can still play important roles in many cases, learners are looking for more. They want options when it comes to how they access and consume content, and they want to be confident that what they’re learning is going to make real, tangible differences in their lives and the lives of those around them.

You need solutions that can meet your organization and its learners where they are now and evolve with you as you grow and change. This is where high-impact online learning comes into play.

Why Organizations Are Leaning Into High-Impact Online Learning

For Learners

Education organizations serve a broad range of audiences, from K-12 students to working-age adults looking to advance or change careers. So, what are your learners looking for?

The first common motivator is relevance. People want what they learn to impact their lives—whether by helping them ace a test, get better at their job or secure a promotion. They have a problem and are looking to learning to provide a solution.

Applicability has always been crucial for adult learners. One of the four principles of andragogy, as laid out by Malcolm Knowles in 1984, is that adults are most interested in learning things that immediately impact their personal or professional lives. In a survey from Seismic, 80% of working professionals said education and coaching would help improve their performance and satisfaction in their current role, and 79% said it would help them advance in their careers.

Relevance is also becoming more important for younger learners, including those in college and university. In Inside Higher Ed’s Student Voice survey from 2023, students said “developing specific skills needed for their careers” was a top-three priority for them. Over 90% also said their professors should play a more active role in their career prep.

The second key driver is flexibility. This is especially important for adult learners because education is typically not their full-time job. It’s something else they need to fit into their schedules. In Enabling Upskilling at Scale, 78% of employees said they were interested in taking part in training, but only 17% did. The two biggest barriers people came up against were being too busy at work (36%) or with other personal commitments (31%).

Many of our learners are already managing a busy work and home life, so having the ability to do pre-work from anywhere via their mobile device is a feature that they really appreciate. Without Brightspace, we simply wouldn’t be able to offer this level of flexibility.
Anthony Ritz
Anthony Ritz director of learning experience and design, New Leaders

For Businesses

After a volatile and difficult few years, building resilience has become a top priority for organizations of all types. Your business must continue to innovate and grow, while also making sure it has solutions in place that will enable it to adapt when disruption strikes again.

Many education providers learned these lessons the hard way when they had to shutter their in-person programs almost overnight. Organizations that didn’t use a learning management system (LMS) to facilitate online education quickly learned how valuable it could be. Some that had an LMS also found out it wasn’t meeting their needs, as was the case for the organization New Leaders.

New Leaders provides a variety of leadership development training programs and coaching services to education leaders. It traditionally relied on a blended approach and delivered online courses supplemented by in-person seminars. It had to go fully remote during the pandemic and quickly found that although it had an LMS, the platform wasn’t keeping up.

When we switched to fully remote learning during the pandemic, we had an opportunity to review our existing online learning solutions. We found that our learning management system [LMS] simply wasn’t meeting our needs. It was difficult to navigate, hard to manage, and didn’t offer much flexibility or interactivity.
Anthony Ritz
Anthony Ritz director of learning experience and design, New Leaders

Why Now?

The reality is that without embracing online learning, your organization will limit how, where and when it can connect with learners, leaving you prone to disruption.

By embracing online learning, you create more opportunities for learners to engage with you and enable your business to grow and adapt.

What Benefits Can High-Impact Online Learning Bring?

1. Scalability

To support your growth, your organization needs to be able to diversify and expand the learning program it offers. Taking an online approach to education can have several advantages, including:

  • It’s more cost-effective. You can make courses available in multiple locations without having to source space or send out trainers and materials.
  • It’s attainable, enabling learners to participate without needing to devote time or money to additional travel.
  • It’s adaptable, letting you launch new courses and update existing ones with ease.
  • It’s consistent. With tools like reusable templates, you can maintain a brand-specific look and feel across all your courses.
  • It’s flexible because you can make courses accessible via an e-commerce storefront or distribute them to more people via other organizations and partners.

As an example, Teaching Training Together (TTT) provides critical initial training to underserved school leaders and teachers to help them become more effective in their classrooms and schools. For more than a decade, it delivered in-person programs to teachers in eight countries: Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti, Liberia, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. TTT has grown rapidly over the past few years—now supporting learners from 57 countries with its online courses—but it found itself up against some familiar hurdles at first.

Setting up in-person courses requires a lot of logistics, planning and cost. Teachers also have to take time out from their work to attend, and sometimes a school would have to shut down. We knew that taking our courses online would help us to provide affordable, accessible and impactful professional development to more educators.
Brandon Hutchens vice president, Teaching Training Together

2. Engagement

One of the biggest concerns organizations have about online education is that the experiences won’t be engaging. This is where the technology you choose can make a big difference. You need a learning platform that can empower content creators to:

  • Switch up how people are learning. Synchronous and asynchronous, active and passive, text and multimedia—to keep learners motivated, the content can’t be monotonous.
  • Make it relevant. This goes back to our first point about people wanting what they’re learning to be applicable. There are a variety of ways you can make this happen in online environments, ranging from using case studies and self-reflection exercises to creating practice questions and knowledge checks that mirror real-world scenarios.
  • Encourage interaction. Just because people aren’t in the same space doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to learn from and with each other. Integrated web conferencing, discussions and video feedback are some of the tools you might have at your disposal.
  • Personalize the experience. Every person’s online learning journey is unique. You want your teams to be able to set up learning paths, notifications and nudges while also giving learners the opportunity to discover relevant content.  
  • Get feedback from learners. You can hear directly from learners through tools such as surveys, but you can also listen to the data to see what stories it tells about participation and engagement.

Orijin is an organization dedicated to helping justice-impacted learners build successful careers. One of the courses it offers, “Master Plan,” is based on a book by Chris Wilson, now an educational consultant and curriculum creator at Orijin. It encourages learners to think beyond their current circumstances and build a plan for achieving their unique goals. It has received praise from learners and DOC staff, and helped improve engagement rates in other programs. When coupled with a 90-day “motivational messaging” program, students spent 33% more time accessing adult basic education, GED programs and college-level education. 

Depending on the audiences you serve, learners may also be coming to the table with varying educational backgrounds or levels of access to technology. The programs you offer—and the platforms that power them—need to meet learners where they’re at. This was an important consideration for TTT. It needed an LMS that would allow it to build intuitive, simple and versatile courses accessible to anyone with an internet connection and on any device.

We wanted a very user-friendly front-end experience and flexible back-end development process that would not require tons of technical experience and previous exposure.
Brandon Hutchens vice president, Teaching Training Together

3. Efficiency

Your organization has big goals, but in many cases, small teams with limited resources are responsible for bringing them to life. In part, it’s about making it easy for educators to create great content.

Another course Orijin offers, “Liberation Education,” incorporates a documentary featuring Kimonti Carter, an educational consultant and curriculum creator who was released in the fall of 2022 from his life sentence without parole. Plus, it uses a wide variety of additional tools to keep learners engaged.

The courses are highly engaging and interactive. Students can expect to have access to a wide range of digital educational tools, including video interviews, flip cards, slide shows, panels that link to relevant resources, user-friendly ‘Socratic Question Tool’ response pages, surveys for course improvement as well as an opportunity to ask questions.
Tyler Coon director of product, Orijin

It’s also about finding ways to streamline workflows so your teams don’t get bogged down in administrative work and can spend more time on more meaningful projects.

For its courses to be approved by the University of California San Diego Extension, there were high standards the Professional Development Institute (PDI) had to meet. This meant its staff were spending a significant amount of time each week manually pulling data and compiling reports. Connie Ryan, PDI’s founder, wanted technology to help automate those processes.

Making High-Impact Online Learning Part of a Holistic Strategy

If your organization has developed a strong reputation for the in-person programs it provides, you’ll likely want to maintain those. They’re important pillars of your brand and business.

But what more would you like to do? Who are the audiences you’ve wanted to reach but struggled to because they can’t easily access your in-person programs? Are there new ways your existing learner base would like to engage with you? Is there different content they’d be interested in? If you were to augment live experiences, how might you do that?

How your organization uses online learning needs to both respect the legacy you’ve built and reflect future strategic goals.

Finding the Right Partner to Help You Drive Growth

Because education is so important for your organization, you need a partner that understands and values it as much as you do. Does the core technology need to meet your needs? Absolutely, but that alone isn’t enough. You also need a partner with deep experience in the education space, expertise in facilitating learning for a range of audiences, and the services and support to help your organization get more out of the engagement.

In short, you need a partner that cares as much about learning as you do and is committed to working with you to help bring your goals to life.

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Table of Contents

  1. Why Organizations Are Leaning Into High-Impact Online Learning
  2. The Benefits of Online Learning
  3. Finding the Right Partner