Digital transformation goes beyond technology – it involves engaging team members and fostering a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. Team members need to feel inspired to use new digital tools in their day-to-day work, and they need to know they can perform their roles successfully with those tools.
To delve deeper into this topic, we recently surveyed over 465 logistics and supply chain professionals worldwide in partnership with Reuters Events. According to our research, a concern among many employees (41%) is the challenge of adapting old processes to embrace new technology. Over half of those surveyed (54%) emphasized the need for a dedicated team of change managers, 63% indicated the necessity for regular updates and feedback throughout the process, and 77% stressed the significance of comprehensive training to ensure the success of digital project implementation.
The research findings underscore the importance of managing the change process effectively, communicating relentlessly, and building capability. Our experience is that these requirements can be hard to achieve. In some cases, they can be time-consuming and costly. For example, training delivered in classrooms by experienced facilitators is hard to deploy at scale, particularly with teams that work in different cities. Aside from the time and cost of moving to the classrooms, the quality of the experience can be variable if the different facilitators are not equally good.
In this blog, we will explore the growing importance of eLearning in bringing consistency, scalability and cost efficiency to digital transformation initiatives. Our focus is on building high-performance cultures in the global logistics industry.
Driving quality outcomes
Quality should be the first consideration; cost savings are an illusion if target learning outcomes are not achieved. So, what makes for high quality learning? The required outcome is that students become competent and feel confident in using their newly acquired skills. To achieve this, the learning process usually involves a combination of theory, coaching and practice.
For centuries, students have gathered near experts to learn theory in classrooms. They have tried some example cases under the guidance of their teachers and then gone out into the world to undertake apprenticeships where they learned to apply the theory and to develop skills. This model works well when teachers are highly skilled in their craft, when they are also good educators, and where the number of students for each teacher remains inside a limit. If any one of those conditions is missing, the model breaks down.
Eliminating variable quality
Increasing the scale of training is a particular issue. To educate ten times the number of students, or students in ten countries, more instructors are needed. And in each set of instructors, it is likely that some will be very good, some average, and some weak in a particular topic. It is also possible that good or average instructors will have bad days or take days off, leaving the students with variable quality in the theory and coaching phase of their learning.
Online learning has given us the tools we need to eliminate the problem of variable quality. We can now seek out the best theoretical content for each topic. We can also apply the best instructional techniques in the delivery of the content. And we can make it available at times that suit students, anywhere in the world. The use of motion graphics, video and quick quizzes in modern eLearning, creates opportunities for students to engage with the material, test their understanding and begin practicing the application.
Checks and balances can be built into the process, too. For example, in WiseTech Academy, courses are developed by subject matter experts, reviewed by others with equivalent expertise, and then given to professionals who specialize in instructional design and in the layout of content on web-pages. Their combined expertise ensures the content is accurate, well-structured, engaging, and follows industry best practices. When weaknesses in the content are discovered, they can be corrected rapidly, and all subsequent users of the material get the improved experience. The quality improves continuously and it seldom regresses.
The shift to flipped learning
As the power of eLearning has reduced the need for students to gather around experts to learn theory, the debate comparing eLearning with traditional education has shifted to the question of practice. The dominant purpose for gathering around an expert now is to apply the theory to real or simulated work problems, under their guidance. This has been called “flipped learning”. The concept is not new; Harvard Business School began using the case method to simulate work-like problems for business students as early as the 1920s. But eLearning has accelerated the rise of flipped learning massively.
How is flipped learning achieved with eLearning? Online learning providers are increasingly finding ways to simulate workplace challenges online: exercises, games, and case studies (with debrief sessions on webinars), are now used regularly. Where additional interaction with others is required, eLearning can be paired with subsequent workplace or (flipped) classroom sessions, facilitated by mentors or subject matter experts. The result is that, for many applications, contrary to traditional beliefs, high-quality learning outcomes are best achieved through online learning.
Scaled learning, lower costs, empowered students
The benefits of online learning expand as the scale of the learning expands. Since the quality of the learning is unaffected by the number of students, the low cost of training additional people is a genuine saving and a number of other practical benefits can be enjoyed. Time and location no longer prevent students from learning. They can access and revisit training materials while working offsite or outside office hours. They can progress at their own pace and they can revisit course material as needed, to reinforce their knowledge and build confidence. Increasingly online learning meets the important objective of providing learning that is “just-enough, just-in-time and just-for-me”.
For facilitators, eLearning platforms make it easy to track and measure students’ training progress. Learning management systems have standard reports and dashboards that show what modules students have completed and where they may need additional support. Indeed, the benefits of flexible learning are so compelling that many traditional universities have retained COVID-induced remote learning options for students. In corporate training, online learning is increasingly used to get new starters up to speed quickly and ensure they receive the same learning experience, regardless of when or where they enter the organization.
Getting started – your roadmap to success
Online learning requires an upfront investment in time and resources to build high-quality learning material. Where the required content is highly tailored to a specific company or context, and where the number of students is large enough, it makes sense to incur that cost. On the other hand, where the required content is more generic, it makes sense to explore courses already available from reputable online learning providers.
A number of such providers exist, each with a distinct approach or specialty. For example, WiseTech Academy focusses on content relevant to the global supply chain logistics industry. It has a catalogue of courses that range from three-minute how-to videos (or “QuickStarts”), to full Diplomas. If the courses you need exist within an existing catalogue, you will save most of the costs associated with content creation, and deliver effective training programs in a fraction of the time.
As we move forward, the benefits of eLearning continue to expand, offering scaled learning, lower costs, and empowered students. It's a transformative tool that not only streamlines training but also ensures that every team member receives a consistent and high-quality learning experience. So, whether you're considering tailored content for your organization or exploring existing courses from reputable providers, eLearning is the path to building high-performance cultures in the global logistics industry.