Career Path Planning: Leveraging Online Learning to Reach Your Goals

Avoid complacency in your career and keep learning! Technology can help bridge the gap and propel us to reach both short- and long-term career goals.

This is a guest post by Victoria Zambito, SVP of Content & Communications, Vector Solutions

For most of us – all of us, arguably – adulthood sneaks up on us and ensnares us in its inherent ‘busyness.’ We fall quickly and unknowingly into its routines, schedules and expectations, often taking little or no time to stop and reevaluate our direction.

It happens to the best of us.

But for those who do manage to come up for air and assess the state of our careers, we often find we’re not where we’d like – or expected – to be.

Thankfully, technology can help mind the gap of where we are professionally and where we’d like to be as online learning can propel us to reach both short- and long-term career goals.

The Science of Online Learning for Career Development

In fact, experts at Harvard Medical School have suggested that our brains must stay active in order to avoid mental decay. As such, continued learning activates processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them.

Professionally, eLearning provides an excellent option for anyone looking to further their careers. A Harvard Business Review article explains that we can take control of our career development by forcing ourselves to set aside time for continued education to help us achieve our short- and long-term goals.

And according to a career development report, organizations that focus on career development for their employees have engaged employees that are 38 percent more productive, efficient and effective, more customer-focused and creative at work, and take fewer sick days. Further, these employees also care about the future of their organization and are proud to be part of it.

"...employees that are 38 percent more productive, efficient and effective, more customer-focused and creative at work, and take fewer sick days."

How eLearning Helps Employees Reach Short- And Long-Term Goals

While eLearning provides virtually limitless opportunities for career growth and development, some approaches can prove more effective than others. Here, we’ll delve into a few of the most impactful.

Predictive Learning LMS Platforms

Predictive learning leverages third-party data according to learning needs in real time at the exact place and moment of need. According to eLearning Industry, ‘Predictive analytics rely on algorithms and LMS data to anticipate which online training resources a corporate learner needs and how they will perform in future corporate eLearning courses.’

An LMS can collect and analyze all the data, apply algorithms, and then suggest training opportunities accordingly. As an added bonus, external data sources can also be integrated into the system to provide a more complete and exhaustive employee profile, including customer surveys, manager evaluations, and on-the-job observations.

Microlearning Apps

On average, an employee only has 1 percent of their work week to devote to professional development. This means that eLearning courses need to supply learners with short, easy-to-consume course material for quick consumption and better retention.

In fact, a study found that more than 50 percent respondents indicated that they would use their company’s learning tools more if the courses were shorter. Longer courses were not only more challenging to digest and retain, but taking them also interfered with their daily work.

According to the Journal of Applied Psychology, learning in bite-sized chunks makes the transfer of learning from the classroom to the desk 17 percent more efficient. And that’s where microlearning proves indispensable, delivering accessible information at the point and place of need when employees have limited time for learning.

"On average, an employee only has 1 percent of their work week to devote to professional development."

Performance Support Tools

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve suggests that within one hour, people forget an average of 50 percent of the information presented, 70 percent within 24 hours, and 90 percent within a week. But performance support tools can help combat the basic brain science of forgetting with point-of-need instructional access.

Employees seeking to further their professional development can prompt learning by utilizing easily searchable apps and microlearning courses, which allow them to review training materials as they navigate their day-to-day duties.

That kind of access is in demand among modern learners – approximately 56 percent prefer to apply newly learned techniques in real time – and enables learners to not only access information they need at the exact moment of need, but also apply newly acquired skills at the time of need when time is otherwise limited.

And as research has found, when a student learns from, interacts with, and has an impact on the real world in real-time, higher retention occurs.

Nudge Software

Nudge software delivers information when it is most meaningful and makes resources easy to access which initiates learning and helps with long-term retention.

This is how it works: It sends the learner questions in the weeks or months following the course to test retention. If an incorrect answer is given, the nudge could uncover an opportunity to continue educating by sending a reinforcing microlearning course.

In fact, a New York Times article says that researchers ‘ … have identified behavioral ‘nudges’ that prod students to take small steps that can make big differences in learning’ by giving a gentle push without issuing a mandate.

For professionals seeking to make short- and long-term strides in career path planning, there seem to be no limits to eLearning innovations that facilitate learning and growth, at any time from anywhere. Such meet-learners-where-they-are technology serves to support a workforce that increasingly seeks opportunities to advance their careers for jobs tomorrow – while staying focused on the daily tasks of the job of today.

About Victoria Zambito, SVP of Content & Communications

As a member of the Vector Solutions executive team, Victoria Zambito is responsible for, and has been successful in, growing the highly profitable online education business since she joined the company 17 years ago. As Senior Vice President of Content and Communication, she is responsible for aligning and rationalizing Vector’s extensive library of over 6,000 courses across its multiple brands, enhancing, standardizing and modernizing content, and driving creative, agile solutions to deliver products. She also focuses on centralizing strategic communications and public relations as the company seeks to develop its brand globally.

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