Why Online Learning Works for Today’s Learners

Online learning gets a bad rap—and deservedly so. For decades (yes, it’s been that long!) eLearning courses have been clunky, ugly, awkward, difficult to use, boring and just plain ineffective. As teachers of face-to-face, interpersonal skills, we at VitalSmarts ANZ saw the live classroom as the only place where complex interpersonal behaviours could be taught, or at least taught well. For years, we peered over the wall from the comfort of our classrooms at online learning and saw only the glaring inadequacies and technological shortcomings.

From Drab to Fab

But then, something happened. Slowly, online learning platforms started leveraging the best in adult learning concepts and practices. Online learning technologies began to allow for more social interaction, started to deliver bite-sized and easy-to-integrate content, and deployed content with spaced and blended learning options which, when utilized well, translated into powerful learning experiences. Online technologies began addressing challenges and solving problems we battled with for years in live classrooms. To be frank, most eLearning courses still don’t take advantage of these technologies. But slowly, we saw the possibilities and became converted to the idea that we could build an online course that would deliver a high-quality and effective learning experience—one that may even be superior (and here’s the caveat) for a large percentage of modern learners.

This evolution in learning technology was not random. It was driven by and walking a pace or two behind an evolution in the learner. Learners themselves were changing. Obvious changes included shorter attention spans, higher expectations, and greater susceptibility to distractions. In addition, learners have become increasingly data-driven, protective of their time, and place a greater emphasis on efficacy.

Most importantly, the modern learner sees the internet, not the classroom, as the primary place of learning. As a result of this evolution, we at VitalSmarts ANZ are confident the online learning technology can now deliver a rock-solid learning experience. Utilizing the latest e-learning advances and leaning on our decades of experience in designing award-winning courses, we’ve not only adapted to the limitations of online learning, but completely debunked the myths that online delivery is an inferior modality for learning.

5 Reasons Online Training Works

Learning & Development leaders are seeking training solutions catered to an increasingly digital and global workplace. Future solutions need to meet the unique needs and demands of the modern learner. They need to be entertaining and accessible and most of all, effective. Here are 5 reasons why online/on-demand training answers the call for a valued and effective learning experience.

  1. Our Brains Are Wired For Bite-Size Learning

Online/on-demand training utilises microlearning—the spaced delivery of bite-sized nuggets of content. And it works because this is how our brains best process and retain information. Research shows we can only remember seven (plus or minus two) things at a time and we’re unable to focus on a learning activity for more than ten to fifteen minutes at a time. Bite-size information, when artfully pieced together, reduces cognitive load and allows the brain to more efficiently process and learn.

  1. Modern Learning Is Instant and Automatic Modern-day consumer behaviour demonstrates that when people want something, they want it now, they want it to be entertaining, and they don’t want to deal with unnecessary fluff. That behaviour extends to the workplace—we want our learning and development to be just right, at the right time, and in micro-moments to fit within a busy day. The modern learner wants everything customized to his or her unique tastes and eccentric needs.
  1. Connect To Learners Where They Are—Online The internet sets the perfect stage and audience for online/ on-demand learning. Just consider that there are more than 40,000 Google search queries per second, 656 million tweets each day, and 67 million Instagram posts shared in 24 hours. Our excessive internet activity demonstrates that we like to learn, contribute, be heard, share, and stay connected in bite-sized chunks.
  1. Video Enhances Learning YouTube has transformed the landscape from a “tell me” society to a “show me” society. And it’s no surprise as to why. Research shows 65% of people are visual learners. Specifically, studies show presentations that pair video with text are 83% more effective at long-term skill comprehension and retention than text alone.
  1. The Up-And-Coming Workforce Demands It By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. Millennials are digital natives who grew up in a media-saturated world. They don’t like to be lectured. They thrive on self-discovery and personal experience. And they expect learning to be accessible and go hand-in-hand with entertainment and exploration. Online/on-demand training leverages the digital and mobile technologies Millennial rely on.

Tips to Make Virtual Learning Effective

  • Keep It Short

The cut-off for an effective online training session is ninety minutes. Anything longer has diminishing return. However, if you do need to lengthen your session, never go longer than two hours and add a ten-minute break in the middle. Learners need time to process and regroup before having the energy and attention-span to refocus on screen.

  • Utilize Engagement Tools

Take advantage of the digital tools connected to virtual platforms. Polls are one of the most common and effective tools. When you intersperse polls throughout each session, you engage the audience, gather opinions, and move from theory to application through questions.

  • Put New Skills To The Test

As sessions come to a close, end by asking learners to make a commitment to practice the new skill. Then, at the start of the next session, ask learners to chat or answer a poll related to their assignment. When you queue real-life application of skills, it’s more likely to happen.

  • Make It Accessible

Take advantage of the flexibility that Online Training platforms offer. If you deliver virtual materials that can be accessed anytime, anywhere, you’re more likely to see quick and consistent user adoption.

Crucial Conversations Virtual courses harnesses the latest instructional design behind modern learning to deliver a flexible, social, and interactive experience that translates into real behaviour change. Crucial Conversations Virtual courses are designed to reach the modern-learner with bite-sized learning modules, social learning and reinforcement, and ease of access. Users learn through activities focused on observing and recognizing the skills, and then applying those skills to a crucial conversation of their own.

Don’t Take Our Word for It

Success Story – Baptist Care

BaptistCare embarked using Crucial Conversations as a training program in 2019 – commencing with the 2-day face to face format. The Crucial Conversations training provided their managers and teams leaders with a practical toolkit and framework to build their skills in managing these high stakes, emotionally charged discussions – leading to positive results and better relationships.

However, they soon realised it is often hard for regional team leaders and managers to access face-to-face workshops due to the time away. As a state-based organisation, they would have stafftravel from all over the state to participate in the 2-day workshop.

COVID-19 pushed them to re-evaluate their delivery options in an environment that stopped a lot of travel. And so they opted for the 2-day virtual training of Crucial Conversations. The registrations filled in 90 minutes of being launched and two subsequent online series have also filled quickly.

Most importantly, we saw some great outcomes from their first online series. In the feedback collected, 100% of respondents said the content was very good (Poor, Ok, good and very good). They loved the clarity of presentation, mix of activities, the timing of the sessions and the platform for delivery.

“I love that I can do the course, it doesn’t really take too much time out of my normal work routine and gives us time to process what we have learnt on previous days and time to ask questions in the next session.” – Participant

“The training was so relevant, I did not lose 2 days travelling and the expense of travelling, accommodation and productivity.” -Participant

Crucial Conversations in a virtual classroom has helped so many clients to continue to equip and resource their staff all over Australia New Zealand, in a way that works for them. To address the needs of large groups in the  most efficient and effective way, a multi-modality strategy proves time and again to be the  most successful. Therefore, we intend to continue to offer both virtual and face to face options in the ‘post COVID-19 world’.

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