Let’s face it: online learning is truly different from face-to-face learning. When you have trainees opting for online training for the sole sake of “flexibility”, you must understand that, as a training manager, you need to guide your trainees a bit more.
This holds especially true for the overly enthusiastic trainees, who sign up happily for your eLearning course, but later on, demonstrate a flat line performance as they find the eLearning challenge escalating.
In this article, we will share with you the 10 best practices and qualities required in an online learner, in order for them to succeed in eLearning training programs.
Training managers are increasingly frustrated when a well-planned, well-designed eLearning course does not deliver improved performance in trainees. After all, the purpose of training is to change and enhance attitude, skills, and behaviors. While you may have accomplished your end of the bargain by creating a justified eLearning program, you need to educate your enrollees on success skills for their online undertaking.
Many top andragogy researchers have come up with their own learner-success formula. These are inherent attributes, either present already in your trainees or ones that need to be taught explicitly. Since you may have numerous trainees enrolled in your online courses, or these trainees may be geographically distributed across departments or company branches, it is difficult to influence and instill best online learning attitudes.
The best way to teach eLearning success characteristics is to educate your trainees beforehand.
A great way to introduce these 10 points is to share them in your learning management system as a mandatory read/activity before beginning any eLearning course. What’s more, you can run a short 5-point quiz towards the end of these 10 points to assess the understanding in your trainees.
You can also take it a bit further, by awarding them a badge that says “Smart Online Learner” or something to the same effect. This recognition badge can be seen by all members and help inspire the ideal online learner attitude in your entire learning community.
Let’s look at what these ten online learning success factors are:
1. Online learners are required to be open-minded about life, work, and educational experiences as a part of the training program. This means that they need to improvise when resources and facilities similar to a physical learning environment are not provided. Adaptability is an amazing human trait. When applied to the online learning environment, it yields amazing benefits.
2. Learners should be able to communicate effectively through writing. They need to try to “show” with writing, instead of “telling”. Urge them to use descriptive words and where possible, insert images to support their descriptions.
3. Online learners should also be self-motivated and self-disciplined. Essentially, they need to be self-starters. They cannot afford to fall behind and expect the kind of help they received in school from their educators.
4. Learners should be willing to speak up when problems arise or when conflicts are sensed in a discussion. Holding back a decision point or an argument will only lead to dissatisfaction with the course.
5. Online learners need to be ready to commit anywhere between four and fifteen hours per week for a course. The biggest challenge in an online learning environment is keeping up with the assigned readings. Time needs to be allocated and reading materials must be downloaded beforehand. Then, they can be read while in long lines, or during a commute, to take optimal advantage of “wasted” time.
6. Trainees also need to be able to think critically and take instant decisions as a part of the learning process. Critical thinking triggers the transfer of concepts from short-term memory to long-term memory. Reflective writing is a great critical thinking activity. Keeping a reflection journal allows learners to “think aloud” their newly learned information. Connecting it with previous knowledge makes it practical knowledge.
7. They should be able to meet the minimum requirements of the program. Have everyone check the eLearning program prerequisite skills before signing up for a program. This will help them meet the challenges in the upcoming courses.
8. They, of course, must have access to a computer, the Internet, and have at least a minimum ability to use them. Again, they can look into “how-to” videos and instructions to improve their computer literacy.
9. Online learners should be able to come up with ideas before responding. Being impulsive and “firing away” without thinking adds confusion to the group learning process. Composing ideas in writing and editing them before sending to the group is a quality to seek and instill in learners.
10. Above all, online learners should strongly feel that high-quality learning is possible without going to a face-to-face learning environment.
Contrary to popular belief, online communities are very often stronger than face-to-face communities. Make sure your community members know and follow the community rules. eLearning is all about social learning. Do it right with the aid of these 10 steps, and don’t forget to share with us your experiences on developing a sense of belonging in your eLearning courses.