Time is the one asset of any business that we simply cannot get more of. Or can we? eLearning time management is a critical issue that needs proactive action. While online courses are popular for being flexible, trainers need to clearly draw the time boundaries of a particular course. If these aren’t visible early on in the course, learners will experience a lack of motivation to complete the course.
In this article, we discuss a few time management techniques that are essential for trainers.
Trainers and facilitators constantly enforce time-limits for assignments and lesson completion. But then there are course aspects that are beyond the visible time limits – the online community forming aspects. Discussion forums, chats, emails cannot be easily limited with time.
There are certain best practices to foster time management for trainers, which in turn can lead to healthy learning habits for course participants. A good example of a time mismanagement issue caused by trainers is when learners retreat from a course due to information overload. Learners feel overwhelmed when they do not log in or spend sufficient time on an activity and tend to recede or fade away.
On the contrary, we have some over-zealous learners who prefer to stay online for extended periods. These learners experience anxiety and frustration when peers and trainers do not respond quickly enough for them. As a result, the other users experience negative comments and an inhibiting environment due to this learner.
Both scenarios lead to negative work and home environment for learners. Training managers play the main role in tweaking the time balance in the eLearning course. Here are a few cases and how they can deal with them:
1. Minimal or no-show learners due to information overload
Trainers should ideally contact the learner personally, and suggest that the learner logs in daily to keep up with readings only. If messages posted by others are too long, suggest printing out the messages and read them at a different time, away from screens. The learner can think about the messages and a response for them. Set up two additional times per week to respond. Create responses in a word processor and copy and paste them to the portal.
2. Information overload due to poorly organized information in the eLearning course
Trainers should ensure that learners are posting in the appropriate discussion forum. A good idea is to add another discussion forum to organize ideas according to their themes. External references and readings should be presented in manageable amounts.
A large learning community should be divided into smaller groups for discussions. The trainer should enforce a time limit for a particular topic in a discussion forum, for example two weeks for one topic, and then close it for revision and contemplation.
3. Communication anxiety
Trainers need to contact learners who face this kind of issue personally and reassure them. Provide frequent and supportive feedback to learners who demonstrate communication anxiety, both privately and publicly.
4. Lack of participation due to technical difficulties
The trainers can provide additional tutorials for the technology being used in the course. Have the learners connect with technical support personnel for additional support. And of course, take advantage of offline capaibilities offered by your Learning and Talent Development Platform, if lack of connectivity is the issue.
5. Reduced participation due to privacy and exposure concerns
The first step is to personally contact the learner to determine the nature of privacy concern. Talk to systems administrators immediately, with the concerned learners in the loop, to ensure there are no security leaks.
6. Excessive posting followed by irritation with others who cannot “keep up”
Contact the over-zealous learner personally to provide them with supportive and instructive feedback. Suggest that they limit their course log-ins to once a day. Request that they limit their posts to two a day. Also, you can suggest that they limit the length of their posts to one that all learners can easily read and respond to, so the dialog can keep going.
Trainers need to be firm and gentle at the same time to manage the time constraints of their eLearning course activities. The goal is to form the right mix of comment exchange and assignment performance.
eLearning courses have varying lengths and amounts of content. One of the main roles of trainers is to create visible boundaries, within which learners should participate in and complete the course. This job goes hand-in-hand with positive learning community development.
Good time management practices are perceived as a strong leadership trait. Trainers need to bring out the best in their learners. Applying these 6 practices to manage time in your next eLearning course can really make a difference.