CEdMA Blog

Four ways to side-step the death of the course

Posted by Julia Borgini on 5/2/2019
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“The days of monolithic five-day courses are gone and have been replaced with training subscriptions, serving up modular, subject matter expert created and curated content with personalized and adaptive learning paths." - Dirk Braune, CEdMA Programs Trustee and Director Education Offering Design and Development at BMC Software GmbH

That was just one of the trends and predictions for customer education CEdMA had for this year. The notion that the course is "dying" is a scary one, but also valid. With demographics changing in the workforce, constant business changes requiring employees to learn and develop new skills, and new technology being introduced at breakneck speeds, customer education must change as well.

Why is the traditional course dying?

  1. Target training audiences are changing. They have shorter attention spans, use their mobile devices almost exclusively, and are used to video solutions from YouTube.
  2. Employees have limited time for training. Gone are the days when employees could spend an entire week learning something new. Now their learning must run parallel to their day job.
  3. Agile development has changed the pace of learning. As companies deliver more frequently, users need to keep up with that pace. Traditional courses just can't do it anymore as they're usually out of date by the time they're released.
  4. Larger groups need to acquire these new skills and it's hard to scale traditional courses. Today's employees use technology more than ever before, meaning more people need to learn at any given time, which is hard to do with traditional courses.
  5. Course models are too vendor-centric and ignore learners' needs. The current model of course development and delivery are based on optimal revenue streams instead of addressing customer needs. The tools education pros use are not set up to help them move quickly to meet learners' needs.

Keep pace with learners by pivoting your education content

Learning can be done anywhere today, even if it's just a few minutes a day. Learners need to have access to the content they need to help them learn and apply what they've learned; not a course.

Customer education pros must pivot their mindset from being course-based to being objective- and content- based. "(It's) more about content curation," Braune explains. "They don't want to sit in a course and wait until their relevant content comes up."

How to pivot your customer education efforts

  • Make learning content highly modular. When it's broken up this way, learners can learn as much or as little as they want or need, whenever they need it.
  • Get in the habit of updating learning content frequently. It's no longer a "set it and forget it" kind of learning model. To be relevant to learners, the content must be reviewed and updated frequently.
  • Make learning content outcome-based. It's no longer specific audiences who want to learn how to use technology, but a much broader audience. Learning content speaks to a wider audience today, so it must be developed that way.
  • Take advantage of AI and other technology to structure and disseminated learning content. By structuring and tagging content consistently, any LMS or AI-powered technology can find and surface the content whenever someone searches for it.

This same technology can provide a highly personalized learning pathway for learners, while adaptive learning tools can offer up new content based on their progress. Eager students can move faster, while more deliberate ones can move at a pace suited to them.

Learners are changing and it's up to customer education pros to change with them. Changes to the content, format, and delivery methods can help CE pros create personalized and adaptive learning pathways for people, leading to long-term engagement with education content and better outcomes for everyone.


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