Online learning – the new normal?

The months of February and March started a major shift for educators, even if they were not prepared to do so.

State by state, schools and universities began sending their students home and closing their doors. Students and faculty were faced with a future of uncertainty while the government tried to keep people calm.

A major pandemic caused the entire education profession to quickly switch to online learning and webinar-style delivery methods of content. As you can imagine, vocational training and certification programs are quickly being woven into the online learning world as well.

This is the perfect time to understand the multiple types of online learning programs that exist and how you can effectively use them in your business now.

Let’s agree that the most important resource we all have is time. Simply put, we don’t have much of it as we all need to do more with less in today’s world. Further, what would happen if you don’t allocate your most important resource—time, into your second most important resource—people?

There are multiple answers to this question. Here are some elements to consider:

  • Increased liability
  • Increased employee turnover
  • Increased asset damage
  • Increased productivity costs

As you can see, this list could become very large so it is absolutely crucial that you take the time now to make sure that your team is well educated and certified in the programs that are going to help your company become even more successful.

Now that we have established a base of reason, we need to identify some tips and tricks that will help you understand the world of online learning as we know it today and what to expect for the future.

Webinars

Webinars are a seminar or session that is produced and delivered over the internet. Webinars can be hosted by a single moderator, presenter, or multiple.

Webinars started to find their way into the workplace in the late 1990s and have since become one of the most popular methods to deliver content for educators around the world.

Webinars are often confused with online courses, but they are simply online learning opportunities.

Pros:

  • A great feature of webinars is that you can host thousands of individuals on a single webinar, reaching a massive amount of people at a single time.
  • The ability to have a visual representation of the content while a person is speaking.
  • Many viewers of webinars appreciate a raw user experience that shows the authenticity and vulnerability of the speaker

Cons:

  • Webinars are meant for speaking at people and not having a strong interactive experience.
  • For a professional webinar, a lot of prep time is needed and a quiet area to deliver the experience for the viewers.
  • Immediate interaction is difficult.

Tips:

  • Keep webinars extremely short and to the point. Eliminate any “fluff” or unnecessary content that is not relevant to the task at hand for the viewer. Remember, time is your most valuable resource.
  • Always reward your employees for attending webinars with continuing education credits and measure their success. Adults like to be competitive and show their work.

Asynchronous online courses

As more companies move to online learning, most often found are asynchronous online courses.

These are pre-recorded, prebuilt courses that are self-paced. This means the learner or employee will take the course at their own pace during the allocated time set by an employer for the learning experience.

These are different than live webinars that are moderated or have speakers discussing things live with an audience. Webinars can be converted into a course or multiple courses.

Pros:

  • Employers can manage the learning experience for their team through a learning management system (LMS).
  • The learning can easily be data-driven by quality check within the facility or organisation. If you see trends in outcomes from your workforce, you can focus the learning on those topics.
  • Courses can be created as a very interactive user experience including quizzes, knowledge checks, click and drags, and videos.

Cons:

  • Building a course is time-consuming and can cost an exorbitant amount of money based on the complexity of the course.
  • You will need access to subject matter experts that can work in tandem to create the course.

Tips:

  • Consider both micro and macro learning experiences for your courses. Attention spans are short, and you should not overload your employees.
  • Put your courses into a “preventative maintenance” schedule to ensure that all your content is updated on a consistent basis and meets any standards that it should.

Synchronous online courses

This type of online learning blended with asynchronous courses is a great way to achieve success with vocational training programs.

Synchronous courses are a style of online learning in which the instructor is live with students on the same platform. This is meant to be very interactive to ask questions or even take performance-based tests.

Pros:

  • It provides an enhanced user experience and keeps individuals in a social setting using technology.
  • Instructors can see any “hands-on” tasks that might need to be completed to achieve certification or credentials.

Cons:

  • Students must meet on the platform at a specific time and can’t study at their own pace.
  • There is no ability to perfect a presentation through recording and can cause anxiety if the speaker is not prepared.

Tips:

  • Begin blending asynchronous and synchronous courses together. The more interaction and proof of concept on any vocational skillset is extremely important.
  • Purchase high-level equipment and confirm that you have a strong internet connection that will not be compromised during your session with the attendees.

What will we see tomorrow?

After the pandemic fades and people regain confidence in their daily routines, in-person training will make a comeback as people crave physical workshops and seminars.

The new reality is that online learning has changed the game forever. Any company or individual can find content online for free, but you must confirm that you can trust the source and that the quality of the content is perfected enough in order to leverage it for your team’s success.

Moving forward both in education and vocational studies, the landscape of online learning will become more dynamic and competitive.

Costs will eventually scale down in the purchase of any online course. In higher education, we are already starting to see universities compete heavily and drive price points down for online courses.

Tips:

  • Partner with online learning providers that provide globallym recognised certifications and credentials.
  • Partner with online learning providers that can capture your company’s specific needs and cater your online portal to your demands.

What to watch for?

Today, technology exists that provides your employees the ability to use their cell phone while cleaning or restoring a location and simply “click” a pre-mounted tag.

This monitors the work they have performed, identify if the person is certified, and provide any current education/protocols that are needed.

We are becoming an extremely data-driven industry and moving at speeds much faster than ever before.

Brant Insero is ISSA director of education,training, certification, and standards. He can be reached at brant@issa.com  

This article first appeared in Cleanfax and has been republished with permission. INCLEAN NZ is published by the Intermedia Group on behalf of ISSA. 

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