Is e-learning a good solution for training? Some argue that you can’t teach people online, only classroom training is effective because person-to-person interaction is what makes an impact. You can’t ask questions or have a dialogue with online courses the way you can with classroom training. Others say e-learning is the most effective way to train because you can include rich multimedia like animations, interviews, and videos. Additionally, you can train tens of thousands of people in a few hours anywhere in the world.
Both arguments are correct, but the reality is that effective and ineffective courses exist both online and in class. So the argument should not be which is better; the question should be, “How can I ensure my online training is effective?”
To get started, here are some rules you should follow.
Rule 1 – Use Existing Training
Online training is best developed from classroom courses that have been taught many times. If bugs have been worked out in a classroom first, the online course will be that much more effective.
Rule 2 – Maintain a Single Point of Focus
When creating an online course, ensure there is only one point of focus. If multiple things compete for learner attention, it becomes hard to concentrate and can be mentally exhausting for learners.
Rule 3 – Retain Attention
People completing online courses may start to drift after five minutes of listening, regardless of how good the information delivery is. This makes it critical to provide interactive elements every few minutes—like questions, online activities, or workbook exercises—to re-focus learners, maintain their attention, and increase retention and recall.
Rule 4 – Use the Optimal Voice-over Speed
The optimal speed for voice-over is a steady pace of 140 words per minute, approximately 10 words per minute slower than the average speed of speech. Any faster and the information is hard to follow, leaving users feeling confused and frustrated. Any slower and users feel the content is boring, slow, and monotonous.
Rule 5 – Test Knowledge
It was once popular in online training to have learners retake incorrectly answered questions until they got them right, often requiring them to review relevant information each time before posing the questions again. This technique often results in learners just clicking answers until they get it right, which stops reading or listening all together.
The best way to ensure learners are paying close attention to the material is to use reasonably challenging questions where the answers are either right or wrong and instant feedback is given. If they fail, they have to retake the entire course, giving them the incentive to focus.
Rule 6 – Capture Feedback
Effective online training captures feedback once the course is finished. Feedback should ask learners for at least one idea on how to improve the course. Examples of common feedback received on online courses include, “get rid of the background music” and “lose the pulsating animations.” Incorporating learner feedback will improve learner experience.
Already we have seen great advances in online training. Over the coming years, we will continue to see improvements, such as interactive avatars, new mobile training, and even interactive glasses that connect to the Internet and create a semi virtual reality environment. The more advanced technology becomes and the more we strive to make online training effective, the more learners will find our courses effective.