Do you know what distinguishes any classroom training from eLearning? It is those animated discussions that one gets to have with the instructor and peers – the debates, the sharing of experiences, the suggestions on how to confront issues or problems at work and so on.
I experienced the dynamism of discussions as I was doing an online course, “Introduction to Marketing” MOOC at Coursera.
I got to experience firsthand, how discussion forums could enhance learning even in an eLearning course. I have thousands of peers with whom I can engage in discussions, ask questions, get answers, suggestions and know how someone in a different location tackled a particular issue, applied a particular concept in his or her work situation. Here is a screenshot of the discussion groups.
E-learning courses that organizations administer to their employees need not be standalone courses, where employees take the course, complete the assessment, earn a certificate and be done with it.
An eLearning course can actually become powerful and enthuse, engage and interact with employees with the component of discussion forums attached to it. Be it on the intranet or on the Learning Management System, organizations can create discussion forums based on courses and modules and encourage employees to participate in them. What would happen as a result of this?
1. Employees would discuss and interpret the content being shared in the courses. This acts as a revision of the content, resulting in better assimilation of knowledge.
2. New ideas and thoughts are shared, enriching the learning experience of everyone enrolled in the course.
3. Insights into individuals’ experiences that are relevant to the subject can be obtained – how a certain issue was tackled or how a problem was overcome. A lot of peer-to-peer learning can happen.
4. Discussion forums result in a lot of user-generated content that can provide direction to future courses and content for the learning & development team.
5. Finally, when an employee is stuck or is not able to find his way around through the course or has difficulty comprehending some portions, he or she does not have to wait for a manager or coordinator to respond. He or she will have a whole team of peers who would respond to a query posted, reducing the learning curve and expediting the learning process.
Therefore, I think it is a good practice for organizations to have, not just eLearning courses but active discussion forums or groups associated with the course. This makes the course more vibrant and interesting to the participants. Don’t you think so?