The greatest thing about technological development is that now we have useful tools for many things that took a long time to get done before automation. The not-so-great thing is that there are so many and everything seems noteworthy at first glance.
It’s very difficult for L&D professionals to sift through the multitude of tools, apps, and widgets and find what is truly valuable. The sheer number of options is rather daunting and it’s normal to worry that you’re missing out on something great.
Unfortunately, I don’t have an ultimate tool list. I don’t think that is even possible. However, in this article, we’ll try to sort out the relevant categories and what to look for.
E-learning tools every L&D professional needs
The tools that every L&D professional needs fall into three categories:
1. Content creation
Content creation has for some time now moved away from notebooks and whiteboards. Standard applications, such as authoring and video platform tools, are essential today for L&D and need to be chosen carefully to ensure that once the design step is over, delivery and analytics will run just as smoothly.
- Authoring tools enable learning professionals to create custom learning content. There are many options in this category but it’s important to find one that aligns not only with what the designer needs but also with what learners need. Since many employees are working from home, it’s essential to have courses that are easily accessible anywhere and compatible with multiple mobile devices.
- Video production tools are essential since it’s the preferred method of learning for many employees. Videos are great for providing easy-to-digest interactive explanations. These are especially useful in the case of technical or practical information that is not easily rendered by text alone. Video is also handy for incorporating SME expertise into a learning module.
2. Content delivery
Content delivery comes with its own challenges, such as accessibility and the quality of rendering. There are three types of tools you’ll need in this category:
- Content Management System (CMS) to host, store, publish, integrate or embed learning content. Depending on the chosen CMS, you should also be able to edit, format, and track content usage. Generally, a CMS is a component of a larger system.
- Learning Management System (LMS) is probably first on everyone’s mind when the question of useful tools for e-learning comes up. This is used to store and structure formal learning content – courses, videos, documents – created in a CMS. The more recent LMSs also track and analyze user activity, progress, and results.
- Learning Experience Platform (LXP) offers personalized, collaborative, and engaging learning experiences, including informal learning opportunities. LXPs can curate and deliver in-house, user-created, and third-party content across multiple channels. Right now, many LMSs also incorporate LXP features since some companies find it hard to cover all of their needs with just LXPs, so they get the best of both worlds this way.
3. Content and learning analytics
They are essential when you need to test the efficiency of a certain program or to demonstrate the ROI of learning interventions. The tools you’ll need for this are:
- Learning Record Store (LRS) that collects all learning data in one place. There are several methods of doing this, depending on what the particular xAPI specifications are. Most LRSs include some fort for reporting by default, but it’s important to look for one that conforms with xAPI to get the most out of it. It’s also useful to be able to extract learning data quickly and use it to generate relevant reports or run it through business intelligence apps.
- Learning Analytics Platform (LAP) that aggregates data about all the learning interventions and other educational experiences across the organization. Once this is all in one place, LAP can apply complex analytics and reporting capabilities that provide a comprehensive picture of how learning happens in the organization. Furthermore, a LAP will show how learning impacts business (and especially business results), making this tool the ultimate calling card for L&D and their role in the company.
What you have above is the abridged version of the “must-haves” when it comes to L&D tools. The sky is the limit with what you can do from there, depending on your corporate learning capabilities and what the organization needs.