Photo by: English via Pixabay
I’ve found a new love. It’s been going on for several years now. Yes, I’m proud to say that I have embraced e-learning. Me, the person who usually fears technology and craves human interaction. How is this possible?
Well, first, let’s be clear on what e-learning is. It’s defined as the use of internet technologies to deliver a broad array of solutions that enhance knowledge and performance. Some of the more popular solutions are virtual classrooms and web-based tutorials.
Now, I must say that virtual classrooms are my personal favorite. Learners can interact with each other, in real time, regardless of their geographical location. Oh, and to be clear, I’m not talking about a typical webinar—where hundreds of learners are on muted phones listening to an online presentation with a Q & A session at the end.
I’m referring to a well-designed virtual classroom session where a small group of learners are asked to do something every three to five minutes. This activity could be participating in a chat exercise, answering a question, taking a quiz, answering a poll, working in a breakout group, annotating a slide, etc. With so many tools available, the participants are totally engaged.
So, why is this my favorite? It feels like the perfect blend of instructor-led training with an e-learning component. Even though we’re not physically in the same location, we’re still together and being guided by an instructor, in real time. For me, having that live instructor makes all the difference. Remember, I crave human interaction. Don’t most people?
What if we had to train a large group of learners who couldn’t all be online at the same time? Our next choice would be to design a web-based tutorial, where the learners log in to a website and complete the module on their own. So, here’s the big question, “Can we still incorporate some type of human interaction?” The answer is yes, but not live interaction in real time. Most often messages are posted on an online discussion group where learners can read and reply to postings whenever they like.
In our Instructional Design for e-Learning workshop, we have hundreds of tips to make e-learning work! Here are just five tips to increase human interaction in e-learning:
1. Encourage learners to post biographies of themselves. This helps reduce the isolation of stand-alone tutorials.
2. Communicate with each learner frequently (e.g. every week) via email or phone
3. Facilitate contact with the instructor by creating an easy-to-use “Send a Message” or “Send a Comment” page. Build the feature directly into the course instead of relying on a separate email program.
4. Build “Email the Expert” or “Chat with the Expert” coaching mechanisms into the course.
5. Encourage post-course contact through email, chat, or discussion groups to provide further assistance from the training department.
So, yes, I’m a believer when it comes to e-learning. When designed well, it can appeal to all learners. What type of e-learning is your favorite and why? What techniques have you experienced that made you feel connected with other learners? Can’t wait to hear from you! Feel free to post a biography, share a tip, and join this discussion!