Advances in technology mean that more people are able to do their jobs from anywhere, but this isn’t the case for everyone. Frontline workers such as healthcare workers, trades workers, and retail and service workers still need to do their job in-person. However, training remains an aspect of most jobs that can be done remotely. ELearning has been on the rise due to its convenience, and the pandemic has pushed this change to happen quicker than before. With social distancing and limits on the number of people in indoor spaces, it’s no surprise that companies are looking to transition their in-person training to eLearning to support workers that can work remotely all of the time, and those that can work remotely some of the time.
For some companies, the transition from in-person training to online might be straightforward, like teaching a software program for data entry, or a customer management system (CMS) for customer service workers. For other industries, especially ones that rely on hands-on, practical training, such as trades or healthcare, transitioning from in-person training to online might seem daunting, but it’s possible and effective! Let’s take a closer look at how eLearning can support frontline workers.
Moving in-person training to eLearning for frontline workers
ELearning can be just as flexible as in-person training in its ability to teach people. Soft skills and practical, hands-on skills have traditionally been taught in the classroom, but eLearning is also effective in teaching these skills. However, the transition from classroom to online teaching can look different depending on the industry and the structure of the original classroom or in-person training.
For instance, Action First Aid, one of our partners, recently introduced online training as part of their wide portfolio of courses for many of the same reasons that others are transitioning to online learning: it is rising in popularity due to convenience and effectiveness, and of course in response to global events like the pandemic that discourage in-person gatherings. But how can you make an online course out of in-person training that is more hands-on?
To answer this question, let’s take a look at two courses that our team is currently developing for Action First Aid: A standard first aid course and a babysitter’s course. Keep in mind that the content of the courses is subject to change, but the development process still gives valuable insight into how an exclusively in-person taught course can be transitioned online.
For the first aid course, a blended approach of online training and classroom instruction was chosen. The online training focuses on the main content of the course (how to perform different first aid techniques, definitions, the role the first aider in the workplace, communication techniques, etc.) while the in-person training covers things like exams and other competency assessments. Since our team is developing the online portion of the course, we’ll discuss that here.
Video-based eLearning is a good choice for this course as it can be adapted in different ways depending on the learning goal. For instance, a staged problem or accident where someone is injured and the learner has to respond to what they are seeing, like they would do when faced with a similar situation in real life. In contrast, video can also be used to show 3D visuals and graphics to give the learner a better understanding of what could be happening to a patient that they can’t see, such as what happens to the brain when a person is suffering a stroke.
Real-life interviews and stories can also be used to increase the impact of the content by showing the learner actual people that have been saved because of first aid training.
The babysitter’s course, on the other hand, is interesting because the content must cater to a younger audience. Our team decided to balance fun and seriousness within this course with a more game-like situation. For example, the opening scene of the course could show multiple things going wrong at once, like a child reaching for a hot stove and another child crying with a cut on their arm. Maybe the smoke alarm is going off as well because of the pot on the stove. A hectic situation like this could be turned into a point and click adventure where clicking on each problem connects to a specific teaching module, like “how to handle emergencies” and “staying safe on the job”. Completing the module fixes the problem and gives them a score based on their performance. As a result, the content is fun for a younger audience but also reinforces how and when to apply their knowledge to their job.
Teaching soft skills through eLearning
You might think that soft skills can’t be taught through eLearning. After all, things like people skills, self-awareness, and work ethic are typically gained through interaction with others. But you can teach soft skills through elearning, and they can be taught effectively through realistic scenarios that shift perspective and change attitudes.
Realistic scenarios that break down a situation and give learners the opportunity to make decisions helps learners develop their soft skills. For instance, our de-escalation training shows learners that being self-aware and having people skills are powerful tools in turning a dangerous situation into a manageable one. Reflective questions can help learners think about past experiences with situations like negative customer interactions or ineffective teamwork and reflect on how similar situations that may occur in the future could turn out better with a different outlook.
Supporting frontline workers with eLearning
While remote work is increasing, there are still jobs that have to be done in-person by frontline workers. ELearning can be adapted to support both remote and frontline workers, even those who need training in practical, hands-on skills as well as soft skills. While classroom-based training probably won’t ever go away entirely, eLearning is quickly becoming the go-to for all sorts of training, and it’s versatility means that is can be adapted to support a wide variety of employees.