HR Answers: How to Overcome the Challenges of Online Learning and Training

tired young Black woman studying online learning on laptop and notebook
By Billy Mike

4 minutes

Feelings of isolation, passivity and a lack of feedback are common obstacles to effective remote learning.

This article was reprinted with permission from the myQuest blog. Read the original post here.

2020 was a highly disruptive year for businesses, requiring them to rapidly but effectively deliver training remotely while maintaining the same level of quality, engagement and experiential focus.

Many organizations that deliver online or blended learning still fail to achieve the training outcomes they are after. This is due to lack of engagement, poor completion rates, and low knowledge retention rates. According to a research conducted by Dr. Hannah Gore, an e-learning engagement expert, only 3.8% of learners engage with content that’s delivered via an LMS, or learning management system. In addition, frequent video meetings increase our cognitive load and force us to focus more intently on conversations in order to absorb information, which eventually leads to “Zoom fatigue.”

The Issues of Online Training

There are several problems associated with online learning and training.

Learners are isolated: In the real world, learners usually have peers and instructors that are there with them throughout the training and help them complete it. In the online world, however, learners often feel isolated and frustrated due to lack of human contact. Most of the time there isn’t a place for them to interact with their peers or with their instructor, and they rarely receive encouragement or support. Even when participating in video training sessions, learners are usually on the receiving end and don’t get to ask questions or contribute to the discussion.

Learning is passive: The online learning process is not experiential, and learners don’t always get to practice what they learn and apply it in their daily work. Employees often just watch videos and read information but are not encouraged to go out and experiment with the new knowledge they’ve gained. Research shows that when learning is passive—say, listening to a lecture without having the opportunity to apply the information—learners can forget up to 48% of the information they initially absorbed after two weeks!

No feedback loop: When going through online learning programs or even virtual sessions, learners don’t receive any feedback and have no idea how they’re doing and how they can improve. The absence of feedback can lead to frustration, lack of engagement, and depleted motivation.

How to Create Online Learning Experiences That Are as Effective as In-Person Training

Action-based learning: To get the learning outcomes you’re looking for, it’s important to make sure employees apply the knowledge they gain throughout the training and move away from passive learning. Action-based learning means learners not only consume information, but also implement it. Implementing information can be done by answering questions about the content or practicing a new skill. If, for example, you teach managers how to conduct an effective feedback session, make sure they actually practice giving feedback to staff and not just learn the theory behind it.

Integrating coaching, peer learning, and a learning community: The three most effective ways to make sure online learners don’t feel isolated and are receiving feedback throughout the training are coaching, peer learning and a learning community.

  • Coaching enables learners to receive feedback and specific guidance throughout the training. Employees who take action as part of training need to understand how they’re doing and what can be improved. Without feedback, no real progress can be made, and the training has no impact in the long run.
  • Peer learning allows learners to collaborate and interact with one another during the training and keep each other accountable. Connecting with peers can reduce the feeling of isolation and increase motivation and engagement.
  • A learning community is an effective way to allow learners to interact, share thoughts and give feedback to each other. Being a part of a community enables participants to learn from each other, and therefore improve their ability to achieve significant progress.

Habit-focused learning: To create transformational impact in an organization, it’s important to make sure employees adopt new behaviors. Some actions must be repeated on a daily basis in order to create real behavioral change. The more learners practice new skills and behaviors, the more autonomous those skills will become, and the greater the impact will be.

The Results

The use of action-based learning, coaching, peer learning, and habits in your training can lead to the following results:

  • Learners remember what they learn even years after the training is completed.
  • Learners successfully implement what they learn in their work and personal life.
  • Learners feel empowered and motivated by acquiring new skills.

Ready to implement these changes? Learn how myQuest’s online training delivery tool can help deliver results that are good as those of in-person training.

Billy Mike is the content manager and learning expert at myQuest, with offices in New York and Tel Aviv. myQuest offers effective learning solutions for training companies, small and midsize businesses and enterprises. Their solutions focus on creating an active learning environment that leads to high completion rates, long-term knowledge retention and skill development.

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