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Learning in the online environment is definitely not going away. Has your organization stayed clear of online learning for any of the following reasons?
- We don’t have the design expertise in-house.
- It’s too expensive to develop.
- We don’t have the time.
- We don’t have the technology.
- We need a custom solution.
Rapid eLearning might change your mind. It is focused on a set of strategies to speed up and make the online design and development process more efficient and less costly. Learning solutions can be customized to meet an organization’s unique business needs. In the right situation online learning can be as (or more) effective, take less time to develop, and cost less than traditional classroom training. Online learning is also highly effective when used as a supplement or enhancement to face-to-face training, a so-called “blended” approach. Instructional designers can help you determine the best approach for your organization.
Here’s a startling statistic: Our research suggests that between 25-70% of people who start an online course do not complete it! That’s quite a range, and even at the lower end this means that one of four individuals drop out. Here are some things you can do to increase the chances that your employees will complete the training:
- Make it relevant to the audience. Tell employees how this training will help them do their jobs better and how it impacts organizational goals. Integrate real-world situations and problems into the training. Though off-the-shelf packages might be effective in some situations, be sure to relate the content to the employees’ actual work.
- Make it short and to the point. In this age of multi-tasking, iPhones, and instant messaging, we get bored quickly. To keep employees engaged, online lessons should take less than thirty minutes to complete – some experts even suggest 15 minutes.
- Make it engaging. Learning is an active process. Mindlessly clicking through online training causes us to tune out or even quit. Effective learning experiences should include questions and activities that engage the mind, get us involved, and make us think.
- Make it visually interesting. We’ve all seen it at least once: Exploding titles, fast-moving text, and distracting transitions that serve no purpose. It’s as though the creator wants to show you everything he can do in PowerPoint. But the message gets lost in the craziness. The key to maintaining interest is to make it clear and simple. Focus on the content, not special effects. If possible, use photos from the actual workplace. People love to see themselves “in the movies”!
- Use a blended or “flipped” approach. Multiple training modes are typically more effective than a single method. The desired learning outcomes will point you to the most effective combination. For example, perhaps employees go through a short online experience to learn basic concepts about the subject matter. This is their “pre-work.” After that they attend a face-to-face training session where they will have the opportunity to actually apply these concepts to their work and practice the new skills. Finally, they can transfer this new knowledge to the workplace.
- Make it mobile. Training is most effective when it is just-in-time and just-enough. By making it accessible on a variety of devices – computers, smart phones, tablets – employees can learn anytime, anywhere.
Online learning is here to stay. Venture into the online waters not because everyone else is doing it, but because this delivery mode will enable your employees to best meet the goals of training. Online learning provides another option in your training toolkit. Instead of having one way to train employees, you now have a smorgasbord of possibilities!