Introducing Employee-generated Learning

Here’s how it solves your learning challenges

By Kasper Spiro

Employee-generated Learning [em-ploi-ee-jenuh-rey-ted lur-ning] Noun 1. A learning and development methodology that shifts responsibility for creating learning content from instructional designers to employees; The company’s learning department was able to save $200,000 by switching to Employee-generated Learning.

Employee-generated Learning. You may have heard of it, you may not. But it’s a Learning and Development (L&D) method which could help you to reduce learning costs, free up resources, and scale your training.

In this guide, we’ll help you understand what Employee-generated Learning is (let’s call it EGL for short) and show you how it could benefit your team and your business.

About the author

Kasper Spiro is the CEO of Easygenerator and a recognized thought leader in the world of e-learning. With over 30 years of experience, he is a frequently asked keynote speaker and well-renowned blogger within the e-learning community.

So, what is Employee-generated Learning?

Typically, e-learning courses are created by instructional designers who are experts in e-learning but not necessarily in the subject of the course. So these designers go back and forth with subject matter experts (often employees) just to ensure content is correct.

But there are serious downsides to this approach for L&D departments.

  • Instructional designers (especially third-party designers) are expensive.
  • It is too time-consuming and resource-heavy because of the need to go back and forth.
  • Content is often out of date by the time it’s published, or at least soon after.
  • E-learning created this way is very difficult and expensive to maintain and update.

Traditional learning process

But EGL flips this method upside down by taking a bottom-up approach to learning. Instead of the business telling employees what they need to learn (top-down), employees are taking responsibility for their own learning.

EGL removes all the limitations above by handing the responsibility of creating and maintaining e-learning courses directly to the employees who hold the expertise.

Your employees already have the knowledge. Nobody understands the business better than they do. Why not simply let employees create and maintain the learning content themselves? This is exactly what Employee-generated Learning is all about.

How does this magic solution work?

Essentially getting started with Employee-generated Learning comes down to these key points:

  • Zero learning curve authoring tool. Since your employees don’t (necessarily) have any experience with creating e-learning, you need to make it as simple as possible. Choose a tool that allows them to focus on adding their expert content without worrying about pixel-perfect design.
  • L&D moves to a co-creator role. Since your employees are now responsible for creating e-learning, L&D can transition to a quality control role, ensuring each course meets learning best practices.
  • Employees own and maintain content. Since they hold the expertise, your employees also know when learning content needs to be updated, and, with the right tool, can do this with just a few clicks.

EGL Process

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Employee-generated Learning and you

We understand that Employee-generated Learning is a significant shift from how your organization is used to doing things. From our experience with working with L&D managers, here are some answers to common questions we receive.

“How does the L&D team fit into Employee-generated Learning?”

We know from experience that if you don’t provide learning know-how and guidance to your employees, they will create courses that are heavy on content and not very effective.

With EGL, the L&D team, or your instructional designer if you have one in-house, transitions to a supportive role, providing guidance and coaching. You go from being the sole creator to being a co-creator, coach, and curator. Instead of time-consuming course creation, you can now focus on quality control and sharing best practices with your new course creators. This all helps to improve the quality and effectiveness of the course.

With this transition, your L&D team also takes on a more visible and central role within the organization. You are now directly working and supporting employees throughout the business, rather than in your own silo. And so the entire organization can see and appreciate your team’s input.

“What about the e-learning know-how instructional designers bring to the table? My employees don’t have any experience with creating e-learning.”

This needn’t be a problem. With simple to use e-learning authoring tools (Easygenerator included), all your employees need to focus on is sharing their knowledge. The tool reduces the design work to drag and drop functionality.

“My employees don’t have time to create courses.”

Again, with the right tools, creating a course needn’t take too long. Your employees’ time is simply shifting from being interviewed by (and going back and forth with) instructional designers to putting this expertise down in writing themselves.

We’ve written a blog post about how you can overcome common barriers to knowledge sharing which you may also find helpful.

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How does Employee-generated Learning help you?

Put simply, Employee-generated Learning is faster, more cost-effective, and makes courses easier to maintain. But this isn’t just our wild claim. Let’s look at how some companies have benefitted from EGL.

Faster

In a typical setup, an instructional designer interviews one or more employees to access their expertise. After processing that information and designing the course, the instructional designer returns to the employee(s) to review the content. This review process may involve multiple rounds of back-and-forth before the content is ready for publication. It usually takes between 90-240 hours to create just one hour of e-learning in this way.

But if you give the responsibility for creating this content directly to the employees with the expertise, you can skip all this back and forth and immediately create learning content.

By switching to EGL, telecoms giant T-Mobile was able to create 5 times more learning content than when they relied on instructional designers. Meanwhile, the global quality of life service provider Sodexo was able to create learning content 22 times faster.

Learn more about how T-Mobile uses EGL here.

More cost-effective

All that going back and forth with the instructional designer eats up your budget. It costs between $9,000-$30,000 to create just one hour of learning content.

One department at the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca was looking at a cost of $200,000 for outsourcing their 2018 learning content.

Thankfully, AstraZeneca didn’t need to spend all that budget. With EGL, they were able to move course creation in-house at a fraction of that price tag. Similarly, T-Mobile, faced with reduced budgets, was able to create that five-fold increase in learning content with only 25% of their previous resource. Likewise, Sodexo found that its new EGL approach to e-learning was 42 times more cost-effective than their previous method.

You can read the full AstraZeneca success story here.

Easier to maintain and update

With a lengthy process to create a course, often the content is out of date by the time it reaches your learners, or at least shortly after. It can then be difficult and often expensive to update.

I had to move existing courses to a company's new LMS. I randomly selected 100 courses for review by subject matter experts. It turned out that none of the courses were up-to-date.

Kasper Spiro, CEO of Easygenerator

Easy Dictionary

Learning Management System. Often referred to as an LMS, this software is used to deliver learning content, track and assess results, and generally administer your e-learning. You can learn more about LMSs in our guide.

From our experience, the cost of maintaining and updating learning content is often a hidden and surprising cost for L&D teams. Too often, learning departments budget for creating courses, but not for updating it. And these maintenance costs can be as much as for the original course creation.

Employee-generated Learning content is maintained and updated in the same way it’s created – by handing responsibility to the employees with the expertise. They know the subject inside and out, and so they know when the course needs updating and how. With a simple to use e-learning authoring tool, you can update the course in just a few clicks – and without the hidden additional cost.

Easily scale learning

With the ability to create courses quickly at a lower cost, you’re now able to scale your learning too.

As a global company, Sodexo’s L&D team needs to provide both company-wide learning and meet the training requirements specific to the local markets. But, as you may also be familiar, they weren’t able to meet all these requests.

With EGL, Sodexo enabled employees in each market to create their own learning content, supported by an instructional designer in their region. They’ve now been able to scale course creation globally and empower their employees to take charge of their own learning needs.

Similarly, by using a simple to use authoring tool, global consumer research company Nielsen has enabled 100 employees to start creating courses. Helping meet the needs of their over 40,000 employees worldwide.

You can learn more about Nielsen and Employee-generated Learning here.

Free up L&D resource

By shifting responsibility for course creation to your employees, you’re now able to lift the pressure off your L&D team. Instead of saying, “Sorry, that’s outside the scope of what we can do”, you can now offer a well-supported solution to stakeholders with smaller requests and retain your focus on key global initiatives.

Improved quality

When you’re working with a professional instructional designer to create your courses it may be harder to believe that an employee-created course could be higher quality. But it comes down to the two points above. With employees creating the courses, they ensure content is correct and up to date – quality content. Meanwhile, your L&D team shifts to a quality control role, ensuring that all the right learning elements are in place.

Learn how Employee-generated Learning is changing e-learning dynamics in enterprises

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Getting started with Employee-generated Learning

We hope, by now Employee-generated Learning makes sense to you and you can see the potential for your organization. It is a quicker, more cost-effective, and more sustainable method of creating e-learning courses.

Within the business, employees should own certain topics and take charge of creating and maintaining the content themselves. The role of the learning department becomes a supportive one: coaching, co-creating and curating but leaving content creation to the employees on the business side.

We understand, though, that it is a new way of approaching learning and development and it requires a shift in your team’s and the business’s mindset.

If you’d like to learn more about Employee-generated Learning, take a look at our guide to successfully implementing it, or feel free to get in touch with us here at Easygenerator.

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