Google+ was the fastest social network to reach 10 million users in 16 days (Twitter took 780 days and Facebook 852 days). One hundred hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and more than 1 billion unique users (i.e., about 15% of Earth’s population) visit YouTube each month. What does this mean?
This demonstrates that more and more people are choosing to spend a significant amount of time online – either to network solicit information or just hangout and entertain oneself! So, an online medium would indeed be a good place if you want to meet your learners/employees/colleagues.
Is it easy to take your courses online? What are the criteria that help make this decision? Before you take your face-to-face courses online, you need to find answers to the following questions:
What are the business goals to be achieved through the course?
Business goals that the program is expected to achieve are an important criteria to consider. Is it seeking to update on existing knowledge or develop new skills? Do you want your organization to be compliant with recent revisions to safety regulations? Do you want your sales team to be able to sell the recently launched product ahead of competition? What is the feasibility of transferring this knowledge or skills online? If you need to train a large number of employees located at different geographical locations, it is best to achieve the feat using online resources. The online option is excellent when time and budget, to get employees up to speed with a new situation, scenario or product, are limited.
Would the Learning objectives be effectively achieved through online medium?
What is the objective of your course? What do you expect your learners to know at the end of the course? For example, if you are a Sales Training Manager and would like to train your sales personnel on a new product or update them about a new dealer partnership, taking the course online would be quite advantageous. One, you will ensure, all your sales personnel are updated on the changed terms and conditions or new product quickly. Two, employees need not travel away from their sales zones to a central location for the sake of training-resulting in saving time and costs.
Are your learners, computer and Internet literates for efficacious knowledge exchange?
Learning online requires some amount of computer literary, self-efficacy and discipline on the part of the employees/learners. How comfortable are your learners with online medium? If they are not, do you have the resources and time to enable your learners to explore how the online medium works? Can you factor the same into the learning program to ensure all learners are proficient and adept in navigating through the online medium?
Is the nature of content suitable for online delivery?
Some content is best delivered online – such as software training, others can be delivered both via online or face-to-face training such as product training. Other subjects may need some amount of face-to-face interaction even though online collaborative methods can be adopted on a supplementary basis. An analysis of the content or subject matter will help you decide on which is the ideal mode of delivery for the course.
Do you want to go for synchronous or asynchronous learning?
Choice between synchronous or asynchronous learning really depends on where your learners are located, their ability to login at the pre-designated time, infrastructure and bandwidth access. Another important factor to consider is the comfort levels of the instructor with the online medium. It is one matter to address a group of in-person students and another when you have to address a group of virtual students. Some instructors need time to make the transition just as students need time to avail of the chat functionality and virtual group discussions to actively engage in the learning process.
Does the course work better with blended learning/flipped classroom?
Some courses require at least one face-to-face interaction. In such situations, flipped classrooms could be a good idea. Consequently, learners come to face-to-face sessions prepared with a basic understanding of the subject, giving students the opportunity for more quality interaction and scope for in-depth knowledge sharing on the subject matter. In cases where complete switch to the online medium is difficult, a blended format is ideal. Pre-classroom training can be completed online through eLearning modules. Once classroom interaction is completed, assessments can be taken online, enabling automation of assessment process.
Do you have all the required resources for delivering a course online?
You need to possess some basic infrastructure and course development requirements that will assess your preparedness to go online. How are you going to develop the course if it is going to be an eLearning course-authoring used, in-house or outsource? How will the courses be hosted-LMS, Intranet, etc. Can you appoint a learning coordinator who helps out students with the online interface and navigation queries? Do you have a coordinator? If it is a synchronous course that you are trying, what is the platform that you will be using? Will it be Citrix, Gotomeeting, etc.?
Many instructors and training managers are beginning to explore ways and means to take their courses online. It helps to develop a basic understanding of how the online medium works, its features, tools available and how one can capitalize and incorporate them into the course. The questions listed above will help to make a good start. What do you say?