Coronavirus (COVID-19) has increased the urgency to transition from in-person workplace training to online training (eLearning) as quickly and effectively as possible for many companies. In-person employee training is often limited by government regulations, the advice of health experts, or employer-led safety policies on the number of people that can gather in one place at a time. As a result, it’s important that businesses can adapt from traditional training methods to remote options. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of online training, and how you can adapt your classroom-based course or courses online.
What are the benefits of eLearning?
Not only is eLearning often less expensive than the traditional classroom option, it offers many other benefits as well. With online training, you can set up 24/7 access to the content, it isn’t limited by location or class size, and many people can be trained at once regardless of time zone. Even without geographical differences between employees, online learning provides a training solution for employees who need to work remotely rather than in an office setting. These efficiencies equal saved time and money for both employers and employees.
Online training has been a popular learning option since even before Coronavirus pushed companies to seek alternatives. In Canada, classroom-based training dominated workplaces until around 2017, and then saw a significant drop-off in favor of other methods, with a focus on online training. Online training has been on the rise ever since, and it continues to be an attractive training option for all industries, especially during the pandemic.
Online training also gives the unique opportunity for students to practice practical skills in a virtual setting. Imagine being able to have students practice complex tasks in a simulation environment with none of the actual risk that could come with failure – but still being able to learn from applying their skills to a scenario that could potentially happen in real life.
Gamification is one of the ways that the ability to practice practical skills can be injected into an online course. This method borrows motivation tools from video games like experience points, leaderboards, levels, and other rewards to encourage the learner and really get them to interact with the content. Gamification not only makes the course more fun, but it motivates the learner and creates memorable experiences, leading to greater knowledge retention in general.
Let’s take a look at a real-world example of how online training has benefited a company.
The financial services training institution, Business Career College, (BCC) moved from in-class financial planning to an online setting to be more future-focused in their training options. This transition benefited them greatly as COVID-19 hit, allowing their students to continue learning through a virtual and self-paced approach. The online learning option means that education doesn’t have to be interrupted or limited due to the pandemic, and students can continue to gain the skills they need for their chosen profession.
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Adapting in-person training to online delivery
Obviously, eLearning is quite different than in-person training, but if you look at the content you want to teach through an online lens, you should be able to adequately prepare to develop the material for an online course. Our article on how eLearning is different from classroom training suggests things you should consider when transitioning from a classroom-based environment to an online one, such as:
- If the content will remain similar or need to be updated on a regular basis
- If everyone will be able to learn the material consistently if it is delivered the same way to each person in an online setting
- If the content that needs to be taught would be difficult or dangerous in a non-virtual setting, but beneficial in a virtual setting (such as observing the effects of chemical misuse or putting out a fire)
- If the content needs to be taught to multiple people in different locations and time zones
Engagement during online learning
Keeping students engaged during online learning is the key to ensuring that every student is getting the education they need from the course or session. Higher student engagement often translates to greater knowledge retention and successes in the workplace, which is why it’s important to explore tools that increase engagement in your course, such as gamification, mobile learning, and more.
Including interactive activities, such as virtual whiteboards and online chats to keep everyone engaged throughout the course is helpful. Interactive activities in a course can also be helpful for gathering insight from students for future course improvement or potential group discussions once the course is complete.
The solution to in-person learning during COVID-19
Online learning is the clear way forward for future-focused learning. COVID-19 has taught companies that transitioning to online learning options (either whole or in part) is an absolute necessity in order to be able to continue to advance as a business while still keeping up with essential employee training. Whether you choose to make online training a temporary or permanent transition for your company, rest assured that online learning is not a step backward, but a step forward for your company’s employment training process.