Many business and organizational leaders have happily embraced the convenience that online training has granted their employees and HR departments.
Training that used to require gathering large groups of people into a physical office with a live trainer can now be taken care of at each employee’s convenience via their laptops.
It’s undeniable that online options have transformed the world of employee training, in many ways for the better. But just as there’s a big difference in watching a cat video on YouTube and conducting a business interview over Skype, the uses of digital technology to accomplish online training can vary quite a bit. Many online programs, though quick and convenient, are not very effective at educating employees and achieving real change.
The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice the amazing benefits of online training tools in order to offer engaging, interactive, and effective employee training. Here are a few ways to improve how you teach your employees.
Customize the Experience
One of the biggest benefits of E-Learning, or learning through technology (especially the internet), is that your employees can absorb the material at their own paces, on their own schedules, and using devices and programs that they’re comfortable with. With pre-recorded video, employees can also review the material more than once, and go back over any areas they’re confused about.
To add to that flexibility, you might choose to make various types of videos to suit your employees’ needs, experience levels, and learning styles.
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Make Training Relevant and Engaging
Your employees will be able to tell pretty quickly if they’re watching training videos that were shot ten years ago. Cultural issues and legal regulations have certainly changed since then, and continue to change daily. Training must be up-to-date if it’s going to have any chance of being effective.
It’s much easier to engage your audience if your e-learning videos look like they were shot using the latest technology and featuring people who look like they work in the offices of today.
Another way to make e-learning training feel more “real” is to inject some emotion by leveraging real-life, recent stories that illustrate the concepts you want to teach. Stories have been shown to engage our brains very effectively, and using relevant examples hammers home the message that these issues are real.
These are vital and emotional topics with real human impact. There’s no reason that videos about them should be stale or boring.
Don’t be Too Serious
Harassment and bias are nothing to laugh about. They are serious problems with traumatic consequences for victims, to say nothing of the expensive fallout for companies.
But the topic shouldn’t be all gloom and doom. The best training programs don’t just tell people what not to do; they tell them what they should be doing. By emphasizing the correct ways to interact with colleagues, HR training can become a lesson in running a vibrant workplace and bringing your organization’s core values to life.
Yes, employee training is a best practice for avoiding lawsuits and in many cases is necessary to demonstrate compliance. But there’s no reason why launching into a sexual harassment training program should be like opening up a dusty manual full of legalese.
Choosing an energetic, positive spin for your e-learning can make your messages resonate with employees.
Try Shorter Videos, More Often
As we wrote in our full post on the subject, microlearning is a growing trend that makes information easier for people to digest by breaking it down into smaller pieces.
It seems that delivering training all at once, especially when the topic is complicated, isn’t as effective as more digestible lessons delivered over a longer period of time.
It makes sense that in today’s world, where people are used to reading and learning in shorter bursts (just think of email and social media), that this would be more effective. Spreading the training out is a good way to reinforce what students have already learned and slowly build on the training.
Microlearning doesn’t have to be in video form. It can also be with short discussions or even one-page PDFs, for example. But those employers with e-learning libraries might find that simply periodically emailing their employes a short video regularly each week or a few times a week is a better option than dedicating a few hours to the videos once a year.
Add a Virtual Instructor
Live instructors bring enormous benefits to employee training. They can tailor the educational content to the group’s specific needs, answer questions as they come up, give deeper insight into the training material, and generally make the content more engaging.
Perhaps most importantly, instructors give employees a chance to practice the concepts that they’ve learned. That practice and live interaction is what takes a passive training experience and turns it into something actionable that employees are more likely to remember and use.
You might assume that using online training means having to forgo an instructor, but today’s technology is accommodating “virtual instructors,” and many companies and organizations are taking advantage of this hybrid approach. We call this method “virtual instructor led training,” or VILT for short.
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With VILT, your employees can log in and participate in live training via their computers. Through videoconferencing, the virtual instructor can facilitate lively discussions and participants can even interact with one another.
It might not be quite as effective as having the training live, but it’s a close second. Of course, this will only work if your company is willing to invest in the equipment and programs that make this online communication easy and clear. For example, employee laptops will need cameras and microphones, and bandwidth requirements for high quality audio and video will need to be addressed.
As we mentioned in our full post on VILT vs E-Learning, the advantages of VILT keep growing as technology improves. The more advanced platforms available today are impressive, especially compared to what your employees might have experienced personally with free video conferencing apps.
Adding a virtual instructor can cost more than giving your employees full access to a video library, but VILT programs are also very affordable compared to the option of paying for participants’ travel and accommodations so that they can attend instructor-led training live.
Work With Professionals
There are plenty of training companies out there that specialize in making it as easy and affordable as possible for you to get employee training checked off your proverbial list. (That’s why we call these programs “check-the-box training.”)
But getting the training done quickly and easily shouldn’t be your primary concern. Even the most affordable videos are a waste of your money if they don’t work, or even only work temporarily. Ineffective training means you’ll eventually end up with way more significant and expensive problems (lawsuits and bad morale that hurts productivity, for example).
E-learning programs put managers especially at risk of starting to simply go through the motions when it comes to training. That’s why it’s important to choose a learning partner who is dedicated to long-term cultural change.
ELI is one of those partners. We offer many types of training formats, including e-learning, virtual instructor-led training, and on-site training with a live instructor. We are even able to train one of your employees to become an ELI-certified trainer for the rest of your team. If you’re interested in learning more, we hope you contact us. We work with organizations of all sizes and budgets.