Why You Should Rethink E-LearningAug 04, 2022
Humans have always taught each other. That's how we evolved. Exchanging knowledge is sharing power, but how much actually sticks around depends on how you exchange it.
The internet has helped make learning savvy. There are so many options that allow anyone to make a quick online course and call it e-learning.
E-learning can be an overused term that is quite often overpriced.
If you have information worth sharing, either teaching someone online or training employees, presenting it can be challenging. Keep reading to discover the best way to convey what you know.
E-Learning Isn't All It's Made Out To Be
At the highest level, e-learning is any learning you do online.
According to training experts, in the early 2000s, e-learning was a complex, interactive module. The courses contained dynamic content, including practice with simulation, scoring, and feedback that allowed learning management systems to track and report a learner's progress.
Soon, everyone wanted online courses, and e-learning became a buzzword. Over time, as accessibility to technology for both developers and students increased, the term became generalized and evolved into a simple, recorded video made available for rewatching.
The key difference between traditional e-learning and watching a video is the lack of interactivity and learning measurements. This difference is why developing traditional or actual e-learning is more expensive than video courses. It's also why the definition of 'e-learning' changes depending on who is selling it. Many providers or consultants will try and sell training solutions as 'e-learning' before they understand the buyer's problem simply because it is more profitable.
The Different Types of Online Learning
Don't assume you need e-learning. There might be better options out there.
Understanding and focusing on common learning preferences (visual, auditory, reading/writing, kinesthetic) are an excellent place to start when deciding if and what kind of e-learning can solve your training needs. Keep in mind training multiple people at a time may be more easily accomplished with online learning.
If e-learning is for you, there are many different types of e-learning that decide the course structure and format.
They can be summarized into three different types:
- Blended, or asynchronous e-learning, includes all different types of learning formats and environments. It will consist of interactive videos, course guides, and instructor lead options. Blended learning is the most comprehensive of the three.
- Interactive e-learning is a specific module like a system simulation. It's best used for practice and tests where the student can make mistakes without real-world implications (like learning how to fly an airplane). Tests are administered consistently, and as the learner completes objectives, they receive real-time feedback for performance improvements.
- Collaborative e-learning can happen in any setting (in-person or virtual) and allows students to talk about what they're learning with each other and an instructor. Think of it as a productive Zoom meeting or webinar.
The Best Learning is Simple and Engaging
Once you've identified what you want to accomplish and what type of learning format fits, you've got to make it into something people will retain. The best way to do that is to keep it simple, engaging, and flexible.
Consider these statistics on how employees want to learn:
- 93% of employees want easy-to-complete training.
- 91% want personalized and relevant training.
- 89% of employees want flexible training they can do anytime and anywhere.
- 85% of employees want training that fits their schedule.
These stats are not isolated to employees. They're relevant to everyone since employees are people.
When thinking about crafting your educational presentation, ask yourself if you planned for questions to see if they were paying attention. Think about how it looks. Is it plain and boring, or is there detail to add a nice touch?
Many experienced instructional designers use Gagné's 9 Events of Instruction to help structure lesson plans, regardless of the delivery method, that is engaging and achieves comprehension.
Don't Over Complicate It
When crafting an e-learning program that people will want to take, the most important thing to remember is to not overcomplicate it.
I see this a lot in my cannabis clients. Because cannabis is such a new industry, there are no existing lesson plans. Many companies over-engineer what they need to do because they are overwhelmed (for example, you don't need to purchase a testing engine to store and track test results. Google Forms accomplishes for a fraction of the cost and integrates with other solutions).
However, overthinking plagues people everywhere.
When I was a training manager at a bank, corporate came up with an approved Microsoft communicator app they wanted everyone to use. They came to me and wanted mandatory one-hour training for all 5,000 employees to explain why they should use this instant-messaging software for internal company messages. It was the dumbest thing. I denied their request and instead made a functional decision-tree form on the different IM tools for them to decide which one to use and when.
In this case, I saved the bank, the employees, and myself time and money by simplifying what they asked for. By making the form pretty, I attracted the employee’s attention and made it flexible and easy for them to learn.
Transfer Your Knowledge
It's incredibly rewarding to share what you know with others. When executed correctly, it builds talent, skills, and community. Being an expert at something is one thing, but teaching it is a whole other skill set.
Whether you have an idea for a class or want to improve an existing presentation, I can help you shape and polish it. Sign up for my three-part program to develop a self-directed training course.
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