The first session of the 2022 eLearning Indaba proved a resounding success, with total attendance doubling pre-pandemic levels. For the first time, the indaba, held at the Bryanston Country Club on 24 March, took the form of a hybrid session where guests could either attend in person or virtually thanks to the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
Started in 2013 by end-to-end online learning solution provider New Leaf Technologies, the eLearning Indaba provides Human Resources and Learning & Development (L&D) professionals a platform to network and collaborate with peers from a range of industries.
The conference sessions boast a range of expert speakers who provide insights on international L&D resources, best practice methods and latest trends in the eLearning space. More than 300 professionals registered for the year’s first session, which explored the themes “Real Clients – Real Stories” and “Future of Work”.
New Leaf Technologies co-founder Paul Hanly noted the pandemic had pushed the world into the future a lot faster than anyone expected. “What we see in the industry is a far more strategic and long-term approach to online training. This means finding the right software and service providers that have the experience and diverse skillsets needed to turn strategy into success.”
One of the key points raised at the session was that the belief that all training should happen in a training room ignored the reality of modern workplaces. According to New Leaf Technologies MD Michael Hanly, it is no longer good enough to adopt a “set it and forget it” approach; instead, there should be a direct correlation between return on training and what is happening in a business.
“Traditionally, it has been expensive to measure this because many systems were server-based and slow, but with how technology is shaped now this means there’s no reason why small to medium-sized enterprises can’t have access to the same tools as bigger companies,” he said.
“What we need to do is deep-dive analytics, which is so much more than whether a learner has achieved a result or not. We need to ask questions like whether the content we’re providing to the learner is actually working effectively. The organisation, by studying metrics, must be able to identify and measure knowledge gaps.”
Incorporating latest technologies
The session afforded companies and organisations the chance to exhibit their latest offerings and explain how they had incorporated the latest technologies into their programmes. Many have enjoyed success with cloud-based Learner Experience Platform (LXP) aNewSpring, for which New Leaf Technologies is the sole distributor in Africa and the Middle East.
Christina Jenkins, brand manager for the Graduate Institute of Financial Sciences, described the aNewSpring platform as an “amazing experience”. “We have about 10 000 learners on our platforms, and work with some very big clients. The feedback we’ve received has been incredible. We are able to customise programmes according to clients’ specific needs,” she said.
Paul Hanly used his address to announce that that new functionality specific to the South African market would soon be available in aNewSpring. This would address internal and external moderation and eliminate a huge amount of unnecessary administrative burden or dual system requirements, especially when it comes to SETA and Higher Educational processes.
Hanly also updated guests on DomiKnow, an eLearning content authoring tool that is now part of the New Leaf offering. This allows L&D content teams to build programmes using a variety of templates and custom functionalities. “Our new LMS implementations will in future include this highly advanced authoring tool for free”
Guests were treated to presentations by a number of L&D professionals, among them Salomi Kruger, the MD of Cape Town-based Applico Training & Services, an authorised learning partner and delivery centre for management software and solutions giant Sage. She explained how New Leaf had enabled her business to offer more role-based coaching together with curriculum-based learning. “Our demo module actually looks like a social media platform. We have all the widgets on the side where you can do planning, we’ve got message boards, the students can interact with each other, they can connect with their instructors. This is an inspiring tool,” she said.
Another speaker, Sonja Hindley, the national L&D manager for health and wellness retailer Wellness Warehouse, said the business differentiated itself from others in the industry since it had trained consultants. “From the start we realised we would have to upgrade to some kind of digital learning because our 350 team members are spread out across the country.”
While a lot of training happens in-store as some of the skills can’t be transferred over a webinar, Wellness Warehouse’s online training means it can train a lot of people a lot quicker, and its reach is further.
In another presentation, mining company Exxarro explained that it wanted to align its new learning experience with its company strategy for 2026 that focuses on the connect-to-next initiatives of culture, digitisation and smart workforce.
“We have more than 200 induction or compliance-related courses which were very much reading-based, and to have that on the e-learning platform could be very difficult for the employees. We had to ensure that what we offer could be used by all the employees, as we have unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers,” said IT Operations Manager for Exxaro Deiderick Prinsloo. Exarro employs 7,000 workers and about 15,000 contractors.
“We started using vidoes, animation and scribbling art, and through that process we had a more thn 30% cut on the time that an employee needed to do the training. If you had a basic firefighting course and employees had to read and look at pictures, it could take them between 30 to 40 minutes to complete,” said Prinsloo
“We changed that by producing a video of about 10 minutes so we save on production time, which is very important.”