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How Human Connections Elevate Online Learning

The way we learn and grow professionally has transformed dramatically over the years. Online learning has become a cornerstone of employee development, offering convenience and accessibility like never before. It’s essential, however, to remember that directly connecting with others can provide invaluable learning experiences that elevate and enhance an employee's growth at work.


Explore the various elements you can use to craft the ideal training program that seamlessly combines the advantages of self-guided online learning with the enriching aspects of human interaction. You can create the perfect blend, where employees get to set their learning pace while reaping the benefits of sharing experiences and insights with their peers, mentors, and colleagues.


Let’s start with eLearning courses' role and the use of technology in a blended learning approach…


eLearning Courses

eLearning courses are a cornerstone of modern training programs. They offer the flexibility for employees to learn at their own pace and on their schedule. To effectively integrate a source of broad-skill eLearning into your blended training program, you can curate a library of high-quality courses or partner with eLearning providers specializing in your industry. 


Online Webinars

Online webinars are an excellent addition to a blended training program. They offer real-time interaction, allowing learners to engage with experts and peers. Live sessions can be scheduled periodically to discuss complex topics or provide updates. Although they lack some advantages of in-person attendance, recorded webinars can serve as valuable resources for those who can't attend in real time.


Podcasts

Podcasts can be integrated into a training program to provide on-the-go learning. Learners can listen to relevant podcasts during their commute or downtime, making the most of their time. Training programs can include audio programs covering various subjects, from industry insights to leadership skills.


Training Videos

Training videos are versatile and can be used in various ways within a blended training program. Short video clips can introduce new topics, while longer videos provide in-depth demonstrations. Videos from company executives or the CEO can warm up the training and clarify that desired outcomes are supported at the top. Like many online learning components, videos can be hosted on a learning management system for easy access by learners.


Self-Study Guides

Self-study guides are ideal for learners who prefer to control their learning pace. These comprehensive materials can be available as part of the training program's resources. Learners can refer to them when they need a deep dive into specific topics or as supplementary materials for self-paced learning.


Online Discussion Forums

Online discussion forums offer a platform for learners to connect, collaborate, and share knowledge. Forums can be integrated into the training program as a place for learners to ask questions, discuss course content, and seek guidance from peers and instructors. Discussions can enhance comprehension and foster a sense of community among learners. Forums are a great place to facilitate employee networking and support.


VR Learning

Virtual Reality (VR) learning takes training to the next level by immersing learners in simulated environments. While it may require specific hardware, VR can be a powerful tool for hands-on training, such as technical skills or hazardous scenarios. Integrating VR experiences into the training program can provide unparalleled engagement and retention and include a level of humanity in the engagement.


Gamification and Rewards

Incorporating gamification elements and rewards into your online training can make the learning experience more engaging, enjoyable, and personal. Create leaderboards, badges, and challenges to incentivize participation and achievement. Recognizing and rewarding employees for their efforts can drive motivation, increase course completion rates, and create an atmosphere of friendly competition and fellowship.


Performance Support Tools

To facilitate just-in-time learning and on-the-job application of knowledge, consider implementing performance support tools. These tools provide quick access to information and resources when employees need them most. For instance, a mobile app with a searchable knowledge base can help employees find answers to common questions or troubleshooting tips.


Offering a range of online resources, from live webinars to self-paced guides, allows learners to choose the methods that best suit their learning style and objectives. This flexibility ensures everyone can find their ideal professional development and growth path.


Now, let’s consider the human approaches that can be blended with online learning for better results…


Peer-to-Peer Learning

One of the most effective ways to enhance online learning is peer-to-peer interaction. This approach encourages employees to learn from each other's experiences and expertise. Consider creating online forums or chat groups where learners can discuss their challenges and share their insights. For instance, a software development team can have a dedicated Slack channel to discuss coding techniques and problem-solving. This fosters a sense of community and collaboration, making learning more engaging.


Buddy Systems

Buddy systems are a simple yet effective way to promote collaborative learning. Assigning learners with study buddies or learning partners can boost motivation and accountability. Learners can discuss course material, set goals together, and help each other when faced with challenging concepts. 


Let’s say employees in a call center are paired off as study buddies. They regularly check in with each other to review training materials and practice handling customer inquiries, which ultimately leads to improved customer satisfaction scores.


In-Person Workshops and Classroom Sessions

Although online learning is convenient, in-person workshops and classroom sessions remain effective ways to impart practical skills and knowledge. Depending on the nature of your organization and budget constraints, you can organize periodic workshops or invite experts for guest lectures. These events facilitate real-time interaction and hands-on learning.


Live sessions can include interactive exercises, brainstorming activities, and networking opportunities, helping your employees stay current with industry trends.


Break-Out Groups

Break-out groups during online training sessions can replicate the experience of smaller classroom settings. These groups allow learners to engage in discussions, collaborate on projects, and solve problems together. Breakouts also allow participants to receive immediate feedback from their peers, enabling them to refine their approach and boost their confidence. Sessions can be facilitated through video conferencing platforms like Zoom or dedicated collaboration tools.


Mentoring and Job Shadowing

Pairing learners with mentors or offering job shadowing opportunities can be immensely beneficial. This allows employees to receive personalized guidance from experienced individuals in their field. Mentors can provide valuable insights and career advice and help learners set realistic goals for their development.


Manager Briefings and Quarterly Team Calls

Managers play a crucial role in an employee's development. Regular manager briefings and team calls can be used to discuss progress, address challenges, and set new learning objectives. This approach ensures that learning is aligned with organizational goals and performance expectations.

 

Continuous Feedback and Assessment

To ensure that your blended training program remains effective, it's essential to gather feedback and assess its impact regularly. Surveys, quizzes, and performance evaluations can help you identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments. Additionally, involving learners in the feedback process empowers them to take ownership of their development.


Summary

Incorporating these diverse elements into a blended training program offers employees a dynamic and holistic learning experience and allows organizations to cater to various learning preferences and needs.


It’s important to remember that any successful training program requires ongoing evaluation and adaptation. Continuously seek input from learners and stay attuned to the changing needs of your workforce to ensure your training program remains effective and aligned with your organization's objectives.


By implementing these diverse approaches to online learning, you can empower your employees to develop both their skills and careers, fostering a culture of growth and innovation within your organization.

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