Your organisation needs to have a learning strategy and ensure that you have the right learning materials available. To ensure an effective learning strategy is in place, consider these must-haves for your organisation.
1. Learning Content
The content you provide to your learners should be grouped into modules. A module is a package of learning material designed to be delivered in one session and to provide a group of learners with the same learning experience. This helps ensure that all participants get the same information and learn at the same pace.
Grouping your content into modules allows you to pace your delivery according to the materials and resources available at any one time. The module should have a primary objective and secondary objectives. This helps you to ensure that the learning experience is relevant, meaningful and focused on just what your learners need to know. Potential.ly's hybrid learning platform makes this simple through easy course creation as a playlist and the ability to add modules as cards and then group them together.
Your organisation's learning content should also include a blend of both theoretical and practical modules. These help your learners 'think' about what they have learnt and then 'do' it in a practical situation. For example, you could teach workers how to use the latest customer service software, followed by some time for them to work through simulated scenarios that allow them to practice those skills in a real-life situation.
This combination helps learners transfer their theoretical knowledge into practical skill, which is vital for maximising long term retention.
2. Self-Paced Online Resources
There are many online resources available to assist with your learners' learning, and you probably already have at least one. However, the best is the one you make for yourself.
Set up a calendar that allows you to plan your delivery of learning materials in advance and then review it frequently to make sure that there isn't anything else that needs doing.
You might also consider creating an online library of resources where learners can access any recommended learning material (and provide feedback) at any time, which means you can always add new things or remove older ones as they become surplus, without interrupting other learners.
It also helps you to ensure the best possible quality of learning materials as you can create a grading system that allows learners to rate each resource before it goes online.
3. Feedback and Evaluation
Feedback is an essential component of learning, and there are a few different ways you can approach it. You can facilitate feedback from the learners themselves so they can find out how they did in the activities, or you can get your other learners to complete evaluations on their peers at the end of each module, or any combination of these and more. The important thing is that the feedback given in each module should help learners reflect on what they did right or wrong, and then apply those lessons to future modules.
All feedback should be available to the learner, and it's highly recommended that you have an online system that allows learners to access their feedback at any time. For example, with Potential.ly you can add feedback forms within the learning resources themselves to allow a seamless integration between learning and feedback, we call this reflective learning.
It's best to offer a mix of written, oral and practical feedback. The learner needs to see what they did wrong or right, hear it from other learners as well as their own instructor, and also be given the opportunity to put themselves into real-life practice with a practical activity where they can apply their new skills.
This is vital for increasing long term retention of skills and knowledge.
4. Personal Development Plans
A personal development plan (PDP) is a way for your organisation's learners to manage their own learning better. This can be done by saving online resources, downloading modules, and submitting feedback online. You can even offer PDP's as a reward throughout the year for your learners.
The best thing about a PDP is that it allows you to identify precisely what skills your learners need at any given time. It starts with an individual assessment of their current skill levels (which you complete on their behalf), followed by the creation of a personal development action plan based on what they need to know next.
In particular, it allows you to ensure that every single one of your learners is equipped with the skills needed to do their current or future job properly and safely. It's an excellent way to make sure that your organisation maximises learning and utilises the time of its employees or students most effectively.
5. Ongoing Training and Professional Development
Ongoing training is crucial for ensuring that you're always keeping up to date with the latest research in the field, including any new regulations that affect your organisation, and keep in touch with trends in your industry. This can be done through courses and seminars you might want to attend (or host), or it can be done through your own continuing professional development (CPD) programme.
A CPD programme is a great way to support the staff/student development of your organisation. It's a formal process for identifying training needs and sources, and allows you to maintain your skills with a variety of learning activities like online educational resources, attending seminars and short courses. CPD is not only essential for staying current with industry trends, but it also helps you get outside of your comfort zone in order to learn new things and make yourself marketable for new opportunities.
What's more, a CPD programme can even help you keep up to date with the latest developments within your own field at work by allowing you to take time out during the working day for training activities that are relevant to doing your job properly.
Back to the Basics
Now that you know the best way to start your own online learning programme, where do you start?
First of all, it's important to find out what your organisation's training needs are and how your online learning is going to solve them.
You'll also want to create a workable strategy for creating and distributing your learning materials. But most of all, it's crucial to define exactly what each module should include and how long it should be. If you don't define any of this upfront, you can end up trying to force too many ideas into a single module or writing something that is not ideal.
What do you think? Is there anything else you can think of that would help to make online learning effective and successful? If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you improve your online course experience, please schedule a meeting with us. We would love to hear from you!
Tags: adult education, distance learning, elearning, online learning, online training, personal development plans, professional development plan, training, training materials, traditional education, university.
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