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With Online Learning on the Rise, What Do We Need to Know?

online learning and development challenges

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The Challenges of incorporating technology and online training into leadership development

Generating content and choosing the method of delivery are crucial aspects of learning and development. Seemingly small choices like these can help keep learning offerings applicable to organizations and participants.

Throughout the last few years, learning and development has observed substantial changes with the arrival of new learning media. One trend we are seeing day-in and day-out is leveraging technology, specifically online platforms and applications, so that learning and development opportunities give participants more reach and flexibility.

In 2017, 43% of Americans reported spending at least some time working remotely (Forbes), a 4% increase from 2012. It’s expected that in 2020, 50% of the U.S. workforce will be remote.

With this huge shift in culture, location, and even the timing of work, individuals in the learning and development field have the opportunity to move their face-to-face learning to online platforms. Though some elements of in-person facilitation translate well to a virtual session, other elements need modified.

In the book Virtual Training Basics, Cindy Huggett identifies three key differences between in-person and virtual sessions:

  • The role of technology—while an in-person facilitator often uses technology to enhance learning, in a virtual setting, technology becomes the main platform that promotes learning and interactions and builds upon content
  • Engaging learners—different methods are needed to engage and build a rapport with participants
  • Multitasking—instructors occupy many roles at once; presenter, host, engager, and technology administrator

 

FlashPoint’s Tips + Tricks for virtual learning:

  • Content originally created for the traditional in-person sessions doesn’t always map well to a virtual classroom setting. Be prepared to allocate more time for strategizing, creating, and practicing each session than for facilitating at a physical session.
  • Virtual sessions are often accompanied with a slow start. Starting a virtual session can take more time than an in-person session. Participants have a few tasks to check off before they even enter the “classroom,” including:
    • Locate login credentials
    • Log in
    • Join the room
    • Test audio
    • Prepare to learn
  • Often, technology issues appear. It’s smart to build time into your agenda for these technology delays.
  • Interactions and feedback are different with online learning. Traditional in-person sessions foster organic interactions between instructors and learners and often promote an environment for constant feedback (head nodding, laughing, smiling, perplexed faces, etc.). To help with this potential roadblock to receiving feedback, set aside time to ask for feedback and interact with the participants by using polls or other interactive elements.
  • Multitasking is an important skill when managing a virtual classroom, especially if there is no tech support for the session. Be realistic on what you can do with your limited time and support. It’s important to rehearse a virtual session before the live event.

At FlashPoint, we take this change in workforce location and culture seriously. We have designed programs specifically for organizations that have a high presence of remote workers. After all, customizing learning programs and catering towards your participants’ needs will help participants retain and practice their learnings more effectively.


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Madison Horth

Madison Horth manages FlashPoint client projects to keep them on track, on time, and goal-oriented. She also applies her passion for research and data to help our clients grow.

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