With the remote aka aloof learner no longer a part of the physical class or team where group dynamics play a major role in motivation, performance on the job, and learning behaviour suffer. The individual learning styles and limitations of the delivery model in isolation become another critical factor in terms of garnering higher learner engagement and training outcomes.
Leveraging Learner Variability
Some learners are self-learners and prefer self-paced courses. Others require a webinar-styled live interaction to sustain their curiosity and motivation to learn. Employee attitudes toward learning initiatives can range from being highly antagonistic to highly ambitious with all shades in between. There is an urgent need to ensure that different types of learners are engaged optimally and refrain from dropping out earlier from courses. In remote, aka aloof working scenario that is the new normal, how do we bring in balance and make learning meaningful to all?
The solution irrevocably lies in the way we harness technology to keep the tempo of training and learning high. Blending both the worlds of asynchronous and synchronous learning (e.g.: webinars) meaningfully can be the way for L&D practitioners to surmount the challenge of encompassing all the learning styles and increasing collaboration and interaction.
Here are some practical steps which can increase the engagement quotient of webinars:
1. Vary Event Formats
Mix and match the formats for a highly engaging experience. Your options include:
- masterclass sessions,
- panel discussion
- live Q&A sessions,
- live videos,
2. Use Diverse Elements
Effectively incorporate pre-recorded elements, live streaming and slides amidst real-time conversation to create more value.
3. Create space for audience participation
Weave in role-play, break out rooms, think-pair-share activities, case analysis, opportunities for dialogue, virtual show and tell activities, recapitulation of key ideas, giving step-by-step walkthroughs, summarising, sharing experience, etc. are some ways in which the audience can be invited to actively engage. Give participants the power to contribute by drawing or writing when you use a whiteboard.
4. Invite Questions
Ask for comments and questions from participants every five minutes to not let the engagement flag. In a fireside chat, facilitate the audience to message the moderator to ask questions. Questions that force learners to choose sides and stay invested.
5. Social Check-In
An informal chat and use of names encourage higher active participation later.
6. Call For Action
Strategically place live polls, up-votes, and surveys to make learners participate actively. CTA buttons like emojis, raise hands trigger the learner to be active.
7. Delegate Responsibilities
Assign group leaders for break-out room activities. Depute participants for staff roles for the day: advancing slides, muting or unmuting, fielding questions, chat administrator, screen sharing etc.
Blended learning conventionally is considered a combination of digital and face-to-face training sessions. However, it has evolved to become the coalescence of synchronous and asynchronous learning methods that create a blend that completely lives in the digital space. While the appetite to have a live interaction, communicating and collaborating in real-time as in face-to-face training of the past is taken care of through synchronous sessions, self-paced independent study and practice happen in own-time asynchronously.
The trick is to strengthen the enablers and remove the blockers of learning behaviour. Buttress synchronous webinars with a lot of asynchronous learning activities to not only create value during webinars but also take care of the interests of learners who need more autonomy, personalized approach, flexibility, want to take things at their own pace, revise or maybe catch up on a missed session. Figuring out the right combination to maximize impact is the key to effective training sessions.
A well-planned training that has something to offer to each kind of remote learner is likely to have five components:
- Pre-learning – e-learning for onboarding through asynchronous methods. All the information that falls in the category of ‘know before you check in that includes briefs of the course, agenda, rules and regulations, initial readings etc.
- Core learning – synchronous learning methods may include webinars with varied formats of presentations, as discussed earlier.
- Post-learning – revising, reading and understanding, case studies etc. using asynchronous learning methods
- Assessment – use of asynchronous methods to determine how much of learning outcome or competency has been achieved. It also helps to evaluate what kind of follow-up, revision or iteration in modules is required.
- Follow-up/Refresher – synchronous methods for case studies analysis, discussions etc., that take place in a webinar.
All the asynchronous learning activities that mainly are undertaken in a self-paced autonomous mode before attending a live session are considered pre-session activities. Learners can prepare by going through micro modules, pre-recorded videos, video lectures, PDFs, documents, etc. Those are introductory and knowledge-based, case studies, step-by-step procedures, demonstrations, previous session videos, product features, etc.
The asynchronous learning activities are undertaken after a webinar that includes post-learning activities, assessment, and reference work to extend the knowledge fall in the ambit of post-session activities. They include guided practice, summarization, reflection, revision, checklists, notes, assignments, interactivities for assessment, reference work, in-depth readings, projects, quiz, MCQs, providing feedback, etc.
Leverage our employee-generated learning model to co-author, collaborate, review and quickly update and distribute content. In addition, it ensures that all your modules are customized and relevant. Built with a focus on ease of creation and the WYSIWYG interface, it is a worthy partner in your learning journey.
A well-thought balanced combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning strategies makes the best use of the affordances while circumventing the constraints of each. They positively reinforce each other to provide an optimized blended learning experience for your course participants. The increased enrichment, flexibility, autonomy, engagement, and motivation creates an umbrella to include all learning style variability.
Videhi Bhamidi is a Principal Strategist overseeing the Didactics and Discovery projects at Easygenerator. With over 15 years of experience in e-learning, user-experience research, and thought-leadership projects, she is a regular contributor to L&D magazines. She is an Oxford alumnus and strives to fuse design, research, technology, and didactics in her solutions.