A great teacher can make or break a subject for a learner. I’m sure you remember a tutor from your college days who could fill you with enthusiasm for the most mundane of subjects and made you want to learn more. Or possibly there were classes where you came out feeling energized and hungry to get back for the next session.
You want your corporate learners to have the same enthusiasm, energy and excitement from the content on your online learning platform. But how do you get that without the teacher being present? Well, there are several simple, but powerful teaching strategies you can implement in your eLearning course design that will keep the corporate learners fully engaged.
It’s All About The Learner
The first strategy is one that should be apparent, but is often not given as much attention as it ought to be. It’s this: your content should be learner-centred rather than teacher- or organization- centered. After all, the learners are the ones who need to interact with your content, and develop, not you. If your eLearning content is too focused on your organization’s needs rather than your employees’, it runs the risk of being seen as a box-ticking exercise and thereby reduce learner engagement.
When designing and structuring your content, consider what your employees actually need to learn, as well as when and how. Use Needs Analysis surveys to help you get a deep insight into these, as well as things such as preferred learning styles.
Good teaching strategies begin with planning your course, so by doing this you will involve your target learners in the whole process, creating more anticipation and thus more engagement.
Every learner is unique. They will bring their own experiences, attitudes, motivations, knowledge and behavior into the eLearning environment that you have created. Why then should your eLearning experience be exactly the same for everyone?
One of the biggest teaching strategy fails is to create a one-size-fits-all product: It’s guaranteed to disappoint at least two categories of learner – those for whom the material is too easy, and those for whom it’s too difficult.
Instead, differentiate your materials. Have levels of challenge built into them. That way, learners who find learning tasks easy have something more to get their teeth into, while those who find it a bit tougher can still achieve their learning objectives. By doing this, you ensure that you will increase engagement over a broader spectrum of your learners.
Address The Individual, Encourage the Group
Following on from making your content learner-centred, you should also bear in mind that an awful lot of eLearning is undertaken individually, whether on an employee’s PC, or tablet, or mobile phone. The learner should feel that the content has been tailored for them.
However, learning by oneself can be extremely hard. It can be difficult to become and stay motivated, for example. Working in groups, whether in the real world or the virtual one, brings out the best in your employees. It gives them the opportunity to discuss, reflect, and discover solutions that are perhaps not apparent when working solo.
With this in mind, ensure that tasks have social content – that is, they require collaboration, whether that is a synchronous online group exercise or an asynchronous pre/post- task or discussion forum. Deep engagement can be brought about by the knowledge that one is a participant in a rich learning experience.
Variety Is The Spice Of Learning
It doesn’t matter how innovative or initially exciting your eLearning product is – if you approach every learning task in exactly the same way, your learners will eventually disengage. That’s why it’s crucial to incorporate different approaches to your materials. Mix and match simulations, branching scenarios, quizzes, videos, and audio. The greater the variety, the more engaging the content will be.
If you’re delivering training via tablet or smartphone, plan to incorporate the physical abilities of these into the learning – for example, learners could walk through a real environment while their mobile delivers an augmented reality overlay.
Keep It Real
Relevance is everything in corporate training. There has to be a concrete, tangible reason for why something is being studied.
With this in mind, always ensure that your eLearning content points at its application in the real world. Learners find it deeply satisfying to be able to apply a newly acquired skill or piece of knowledge immediately after acquiring it. Where possible, use genuine scenarios and situations as the basis of what is being taught.
Life’s a Game
Having said that, you may also want to bring out your learners’ competitive side and use gamification as a teaching strategy.
Game-based learning tasks are great for situations that require concentration and accuracy, as the learner gets rewarded more as they improve at the task. You can create game-like environments using virtual reality, or turn the real world into a gamified learning environment by using Augmented Reality layers.
Be There Just Enough
In the ideal online environment, the ideal teacher is one who is noticeable by their absence – that is, there’s no knowledge gatekeeper between the learner and the learning objective. Instead, the environment is the tutor itself. For example, in corporate simulation scenarios, your users may find themselves immersed to the degree that they forget they’re in training!
Nevertheless, there are times when the tutor has to pop up and announce their presence. One of the main times this may occur is when giving feedback. This isn’t necessarily intrusive in a rich learning environment, but it’s necessary: we all like to receive input and commentary on our performance, both while we’re doing a task and after it’s completed. Where the ‘teacher’ has to appear, your strategy should be to keep it as light and as unobtrusive as possible.
There’s a great phrase about teaching and learning: ‘The best teachers tell you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see’. And that’s what you should aim for in your online training: the teacher pointing the direction, and letting the learner discover for themselves.
Online training can create a truly immersive, rich and entirely engaging experience. Nowadays, building a successful online corporate training strategy and implementing effective teaching strategies don’t just require you to consider the material to be delivered – you also have to consider the medium of delivery, as that opens up really exciting, challenging ways in which eLearning can happen. It may be a challenge to create, but it is truly worth it for everyone!
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