E-learning For 2020: How To Create An Online Classroom For Your Employees
Having one-on-one teaching sessions is simply not productive enough. Here’s how to create an online classroom and provide your staff with the skills they need.
Training people in-house used to be easy.
A break from work? "Yes, please!"
Free food? "I'm totally there."
And no boss.
"Awesome! Wait...this is a trick, right?"
Yet you've tried role-playing workshops, bringing in experts, and going offsite to a cool venue. Hoping something new would bring a spark to your colleagues' eyes - a sign of some neurons in their brain firing off from being stimulated by new information. Not the caffeine from their third cup of coffee.
Things are moving so fast that it's hard to keep up. You've got campaigns to train staff on, new employees to onboard and, oh yeah, a half dozen new product features to get everyone up to speed on. Once you've figured it out first.
Plus, you also need to train the other 2,000 or so employees in other offices across the country, and even the other side of the world.
The obvious answer? Online training.
Why online training (or e-learning)?
These days training budgets are getting slimmer or slashed altogether.
Yet reports show that businesses that strive to improve company culture invest in training. The results are clear - these businesses are 37 percent more productive and 26 percent more likely to execute top-notch solutions.
E-learning is cost-effective and flexible. It can be rolled out to hundreds of staff at a time, and the employee can access it from wherever they wish. Staff can review modules as many times as they like and learn at whatever time suits them.
Asking people to look at their screens more doesn't sound like a winner. But, despite thinking virtual training would lead to less accountability, learning online has gone gangbusters.
Weirdly, some say that online training is up to six times more effective than standard training in real life, with retention rates between 25-60 percent compared to just 8-10 percent respectively.
Companies such as Walmart created real-life scenarios to skill up staff for one of the most high-pressure days in the commercial shopping calendar - Black Friday.
Meanwhile, Farmers Insurance trained staff on how to assess damages in different situations by using online training. They created various virtual homes that have six different floor plans, two levels of difficulty and 500 different scenarios to work through.
And online classrooms can help your bottom line, too. Shell, who normally send staff on field trips, switched to virtual interactive learning and saved a cool $200 million.
Don't reinvent the wheel: Use existing resources and tried and true methods
YouTube, Blackboard, Moodle, Teachable and many more e-learning platforms will be your new go-to's.
While many of these platforms are primarily marketed to business owners that want to sell online courses, there's no reason why you can't use free resources to create your own course for staff.
Need a basic how-to?
Create modules: Use templates that can be customized and repurposed. There are plenty of tutorials about how to set up a course with a breakdown on creating modules, checking progress of learners, and getting feedback to tweak things.
Not sure how to start? Think about concrete learning outcomes and work backwards, creating modules based on learning each specific skill.
Set up a publishing calendar: You might also want a planning tool to create a publishing calendar. It's easy to do this in Trello, but learning platforms will have this handy feature integrated.
Plan when to drip feed each module: Learners shouldn’t be able to access all modules and exercises in one go. Plan to drip them one at a time, sequentially. You’ll need to release and close off access to each module at the same time for all employees.
Create live webinars: There are also ways to create teams and webinars when live group work and discussion makes more sense than remote individual training. It's another way to enforce accountability and make sure you can find out who's not keeping up and why.
Use interactive content to test knowledge
Gamifying exercises to test knowledge learned in each module is a great way to motivate staff to learn.
Interactive content forces users to engage rather than consume information passively. Virtual reality and augmented reality courses are great at this. But they can take a lot of time and money to create, beta-test, and rollout.
Got a limited timeframe and budget? No problem. Use contests and quizzes in your modules to increase the level of engagement and retention rate. Customize a trivia quiz template, insert a couple of quick vocabulary tests about a new topic, or use a points system or a leaderboard to motivate employees.
Keep it simple, fun, and challenging enough to keep them interested, but not too difficult that it dissuades staff from learning.
For more involved quizzes to test how your colleagues solve problems, here are a few more tips:
consider the time it takes to finish each question and the quiz overall
avoid "yes" or "no" questions
structure questions that test critical thinking
use a mix of media (audio, visual, text) to keep things interesting
consider the design - does it flow? Is it visually appealing?
Personalize the learning experience
Create learning outcomes that align with the employee's professional goals or in some way speak to their personality. Use real-life scenarios to make it as relevant as possible.
Use information from past performance reviews and employee feedback sessions to hone in on specific learning issues or preferred ways of learning. Create modules that focus on catering to these to maximize learning.
Make sure you can check where employees get stuck. There should be automatic prompts to help the employee and allow them to go back and forth to revise sections before moving on to other modules.
Another benefit of online training is that it frees up your time to spend on important staff issues. You can follow up one-on-one with staff that are finding certain topics difficult. Schedule time with them to make sure they truly get it. Leave the other staff to learn as and when they like, but make it clear they can ask questions if they need to.
So if your organization doesn't have a training plan or is still doing it the old-school way, pitch online training to your boss.
For us, it's a no-brainer.
It's waaay cheaper, waaay quicker, and much, much easier for you to implement. There'll be no need to bribe staff to finish training and retention rates will skyrocket. E-learning is a breath of fresh air for your colleagues, too. The flexibility to learn from home or on the road is a massive bonus. They’ll just have to brew their own coffee.