Is online training always the best for your employees?

At the start of 2019 in the world of Learning and Development, online training and E-learning were unavoidable, they were the new buzz words and everyone was talking about it. Everyone was championing how amazing new technology is and how that technology will enable your employees to learn at their convenience and save costs for the business. 

In reality, for a lot of organisations, Online Training and E-Learning platforms became a box ticking exercise for compliance and has affected the overall development within the business. Whilst this can be a great method for training, it is not always the best solution and takes the focus off other learning solutions. 

For example different software providers will have different capabilities. Some are modern, fun and engaging but sadly there are also some that are quite tired and dated and not as engaging. Some have the function for knowledge checking to ensure learning has taken place whilst others will just record that the training has been completed. I have also seen it happen in practice where employees all undertake the same generic learning module online at their desks whilst discussing it and sharing the answers at the end. Shared learning can be good however in these situations some individuals will not participate in the learning and will simply input the answers they have been given at the end. This is a risk to the business if they miss crucial information.

If we have an E-Learning system or online platform then it can be easy to overlook other learning and development opportunities. For some companies their full Training Budget went into the system which meant there was no face to face learning interventions. We need to remember that there are different learning styles and we should be catering to them all.

The written word can be very powerful. It is especially needed when we’re trying to communicate the full detail of a subject or theory. There are also many learners out there who prefer the written word. It’s usually the same people who like to read a good book, magazine or subscribe to a blog. When using text within your training, keep it relevant, clear and engaging. You can use your text to communicate the details, tell a story and keep your learners hooked to the very end. The important thing to remember is there’s a time and a place for text and there often needs to be more than just words.

A huge 65% of people are visual learners. This explains why infographics and video are the most popular form of content today. People are drawn to imagery, because it’s easier and faster to digest the facts when they’re surrounded by pictures. Image and video content communicate your training narrative quicker than text ever could. So, if you are solely using online training I would encourage you to review the content and add relevant images and videos where possible. If it already contains imagery than rate the quality. Nobody wants to view Clip Art anymore and there is nothing worse for me than watching poor quality videos, it’s completely distracting for me and sometimes feels write painful. 

30% are Auditory learners and these are the people who will most likely opt for an audio book over a physical copy. We have all seen how podcasts and TEDtalks have taken the internet by storm. Why does the power of the spoken word remain such as hit? Well remember that vital aspects of communication can never be fully replicated by text or image, such as tone of voice (It’s not what we say it’s how we say it!). If you include audio content, make sure it’s engaging! For example, include webinars or podcast-style assets to break up the text and support the narrative. Think more inspirational speaker and less monotonous teacher voice and you’ll be well on your way to success!

Some individuals prefer to learn in a social environment whilst others tend toward solitary study. Our learning style is not set in stone and our preference for social or solitary learning can shift depending on the setting or circumstances. Why not combine the two and create engagement activities that cover both learning and have a social aspect. 

To me, learning should be fun and engaging and I want businesses to re think their training solutions for 2020. I would ask you to reflect back over the past year and see what training activities have been implemented and what the result of each were. If there is a heavy bias on online training then really look to ensure this is the best solution possible. Ask yourself would you be able to compliment this with other methods for a better result? If online training is the best solution for you then make sure you are using it to it’s full potential and all employees are engaged with it. Don’t let training become a box ticking exercise in your organisation, harness it for it’s full potential and reap the benefits. 

To find out more about online learning, please contact our Learning and Development Consultant, Kimberley Fidler, on 07487 512 928.

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