I was a relatively early convert to the idea of online learning and I’d been working online for a few years before finding, like everyone else, that everything had to go online this year. Mind you, I wasn’t sold on the idea originally. I started out my career running face to face training and I didn’t think that there was any reason to do things online. Of course, I was mistaken and I soon found that online learning could offer a lot.
With that in mind I though I’d share some of my hints and tips from the last few years, to those who have found they’re having to do a lot more work online this year!
- It’s not the same
Online learning is not the same as face to face training. I’d been running programmes for around ten years before beginning to work online and there are some significant changes. For example online learning can be live, or ‘asynchronous’ which is a fancy online learning word meaning content that people can work through by themselves. So people can learn in their own time and at their own pace.
- Is it elearning?
Elearning (or e-learning, or eLearning, but never ELearning of course!) is a pretty broad term. I personally use it to describe interactive learning that isn’t live. So some videos on a website might be great, but it lacks the interactivity that makes it Elearning in my book. Why is interactivity so important? The more interactive, the longer the attention span and the higher the retention of learning. People stick with it longer and remember it better.
There’s been a big shift in the expectations of videos. 20 years ago you needed a really expensive camera setup in order to produce videos for training. The growth of Youtube, TikTok etc. has meant that we’re used to videos that look more ‘casual’. HD webcams and phones mean that good quality video is in reach of all of us. It’s worth spending a little time though looking at your camera setup (so we’re not looking up your nose) and you still need to have a decent microphone and lighting to make your videos acceptable.
- Attention spans
What has changed in the last few years is attention spans. We’re not used to watching 45 minute videos on our computers. Most online videos are less than five minutes. So a collection of shorter videos will often be more powerful than one long one. The trick is to tie these together to form a useful learning experience.
- Divided attention
For face to face training it’s always a bad sign if people are looking at their screens. For online training that’s the goal! If you’re running a live session online then one of the greatest challenges you face is that everyone is looking at their screen. That same screen they’re watching you on is probably popping up emails, notifications and messages all demanding their attention. This is an incentive of course to keep your training lively and interesting, and I find that longer breaks pay off.
Well there you are, five things I’ve learnt from five years of online learning. Let’s see what more I’ve learnt by the end of this year!