In the first part of this blog, I had shared some ideas on how managers/L & D managers can enthuse prospective learners to register for a course that has been assigned to them by their manager. Registration to a course is only half the battle won. Once learners register for a course, you need to also ensure that courses are completed by them. This entirely depends on the way courses are designed. Knowledge of learning design principles, adult learning principles, and cognitive principles might help a great deal to design courses that appeal to a busy employee in an organization.
Some traditional training managers argue that the level of interaction and rapport that an instructor can achieve in person cannot be replicated in an online course. Well, they may have been right a couple of decades ago when online courses were static page-turner type of courses. But today, technology and tools have changed the way courses can be created and made interactive. Today, interactive courses can be designed such that they replicate classroom interaction albeit, in a different way.
Here are some classroom techniques that can be easily incorporated into eLearning courses.
1. Time-bound: It helps to have an eLearning course have a schedule, that is, have fixed timelines. Instead of having a one-hour eLearning course that needs to be taken by leaners in one sitting, short modules can be released periodically over a stipulated time frame. Unlike a classroom-based training that spreads over 1-2 days or maximum for a week, online courses could have timelines spread over multiple weeks 9-12 weeks or longer depending on the content and complexity of the course. Lessons can be shared on a weekly basis with learners. Every week will have an activity/quiz/test that needs to be completed. Quite obviously the activity will be based on the content shared during the week. This ensures that learners do not push learning to a later date but keep up the momentum.
2. Discussion boards: One aspect of classroom training is the lively discussions that take place between the instructor and learners and among the learners themselves. There is no doubt that a lot of peer-to-peer learning takes place during instructor-led classroom trainings, conferences and seminars. Thanks to the powerful options available in today’s learning management system, discussion boards can be created for collaborative learning experience similar to that of classroom environment. Activities can start on the discussion board and move to the course content or vice-versa. Involvement of SMEs, managers or administrators would play an important role here.
3. Case Studies: Case studies have been an integral part of the classroom learning environment. Problem-based learning encourages learners to reflect on the situation, apply the concepts learnt to resolve a particular issue. Online learning program also can have case studies, which can be shared as a part of unit-end assessment that can be reviewed by peers or by assigned manager. It could also be part of informal discussions on the discussion boards, chat rooms or carried out as a formal activity.
4. Puzzles/Games/Quiz: Instructors often break the monotony by asking some riddles or puzzles after covering a segment of the subject. Similar puzzles or riddles can be incorporated into eLearning modules after each topic. This enlivens the learning process and ensures that there is no monotony. At the same time, it helps learners to evaluate their learning.
5. Stories/Scenarios: Very often, instructors share interesting anecdotes, humorous stories that reinforce a particular point. Scenarios or stories are used to simplify complex concepts or ideas. Scenarios can be included in eLearning courses through simple images, animations or videos to explain a concept or rule. This makes eLearning courses interesting and keeps alive learner’s interest in the course.
E-learning can be made as lively and engaging as classroom training programs. In a classroom situation, the personality of the instructor plays a crucial role. However, in an eLearning context, technological tools and instructional design principles applied play a critical part. A good learning management system, a strong instructional design team and involved subject matter experts ensure that learning online can be very interactive and engaging. What do you think?