Learning is a cognitive function. It requires the brain to work in complex ways. To maximise that functionality, the brain needs a conducive environment in which to work. Here are 5 tips for your online learning that can enhance that learning functionality, and hopefully improve outcomes in the process.
It’s no surprise that we work better when we’re motivated. Praise is a big part of it, but we’re talking about more than a pat on the back here. Praise comes in different forms:
“We’re all in it together!” The worst kind of learning is when it’s done TO you. That environment instantly creates negativity, resentment and poor motivation. When learning is done WITH you, people feel they are part of something bigger, they realise what they are learning contributes to that bigger picture.
A learning culture also must be democratic (again, learning WITH you!), so there needs to be ways for learners to feedback to managers/instructional designers. Avoid open-ended answers. Structure them so the feedback is constructive. It’s called ‘Learner Voice’.
As mentioned in point 1, support systems in a learning culture includes peer mentors who can support those who may struggle. But it works the other way too – what broader expertise exists in the workforce? Can support topics be authored into an online training course by these people?
There is a danger in all learning resources that while the author understands it, the learner might not. A few considerations:
Passive learners do not learn as much as active learners. Fact.
Knowledge gained from passive learning does not remain in the long-term memory for long. Fact.
Active learning requires interactivity. It’s the nearest elearning gets to having the tutor there to work with you. There can be various interactions built into the authoring software, but we’re talking beyond that:
WHERE do learners complete their courses in your organisation? Because that space tells them how important the process is by what’s around them. If they’re stuffed into small, windowless rooms and given half an hour to do the course – they’re being told that learning isn’t valued. Put them in a space which is pleasant, friendly and helpful – the message is very different.
What are conditions like? Loud and noisy? For some people that distraction impedes learning (though not all!). Others find silence stressful. In a learning culture, these factors will have been investigated and decisions taken to create the right environment for most people. If they’re sat at computer screens – are they sat correctly? There are health & safety factors to consider here.
So, to summarise, learning is a complex cognitive function. It’s rendered so complicated because there are other aspects of the brain that want to make contributions. It’s important to get your online learning environment right. Getting as many of these factors ‘right’ for learners will improve their learning experience – and hopefully the outcomes that follow.
Phil Parker, Learning Development Consultant, Nimble Elearning