In our fast-moving digital age, you might think classroom training is dying out, but the evidence suggests that’s not the case. In fact, a report by Towards Maturity found that 54% of formal corporate learning is still being delivered through face-to-face methods.
However, the report also highlights the desire of L&D professionals to improve choice for employees around where, when and how they learn.
Extending that choice means creating new opportunities for people to learn outside the classroom, using digital technologies, like elearning. It’s a chance to improve the effectiveness and agility of formal learning by blending the best of face-to-face with the best of online. However, where organisations have a lot of classroom content, to do this successfully, there are some ‘golden rules’ to follow to ensure you achieve the best outcome for your organisation and your people.
1. Avoid wholesale content dumping
It’s tempting to simply transfer classroom content straight into digital form, especially where the face-to-face session covers everything required by the subject matter experts or where the feedback from participants has been positive. However, this approach is a big gamble; sometimes it will work, but in most cases, it will backfire. It’s the equivalent of turning a novel into a movie without adapting it for the screen – you’re unlikely to win an Oscar!
Instead, this is a chance to review the content and tailor it for a digital audience; what worked well as an instructor-led activity may fall flat in an elearning course. It’s an opportunity to go back to basics and review what the training is trying to achieve, the needs of the learners, the best technology for the job and how the whole experience can be evaluated against key objectives.
2. Build around the person
In some ways digital learning has to work harder than training conducted face-to-face. There’s a lot competing for our attention in the online world, especially at work. Josh Bersin has characterised today’s employee learner as ‘overwhelmed, distracted and impatient’ with just 1% of a typical week to focus on training and development.
Focusing on the reality of people working in your organisation is a good place to start when transforming classroom content into a digital format. How long can they reasonably spend learning online? What devices do they have access to? Will they have to fit elearning around their daily tasks?
3. Consider User Experience
Because digital is different, how we treat content should be different too. When it comes to online learner experiences, the bar has been raised because we’ve very quickly got used to enjoying super slick user experiences from outside of learning. Digital learning should also be accessible and digestible, otherwise it won’t make the intended impact. In a face-to-face environment, if content is unclear, a learner can raise it or discuss with a colleague.
With digital learning it’s so important to be clear and unambiguous otherwise learners may switch off. But with intuitive design digital learning can concisely get across key learning and encourage ‘replayability’.
4. Use interactivity effectively
Although it may be tempting to try and impress with interactivity, this approach requires caution. Interactions definitely lift content and add dynamism but when included to excess they can be distracting. If interactions make the learning experience confusing this will work against the intended learning outcomes.
Great learning interactions take content to a higher level by encouraging the learner to engage with a subject through tasks and activities. A creative approach to digital learning can reframe all kinds of subjects in an innovative way that your learners may not expect; presenting content in a fresh way encourages curiosity.
5. Don’t lose the human touch
Digital shouldn’t be soulless. With online content, there are plenty of ways to create empathy and human connection through clever design and technologies. For example, immersive experiences such as virtual reality can help to heighten emotion and video content can be highly relatable and emotive.
Creating opportunities within elearning for communicating with peers or integrating social elements can further help to support human connection. And even where it’s better to continue with face-to-face for elements of the programme, integrating technology to support peer connection and social discussion is a powerful way to move learning beyond the classroom.
Balancing the blend
As organisations continue to modernise their formal corporate learning programmes, it’s inevitable that some things that were once taught in the classroom will be delivered digitally in future. Understanding how best to turn face-to-face content into amazing elearning will continue to be a challenge as businesses realign their learning blend to meet their goals. However, it’s also an opportunity to get digital right and create a balanced formal learning strategy that’s built around the people.