More companies than ever are eyeing new ways to engage employees with quality training away from the office. For many businesses, this means a greater investment in on-demand learning programs.
There are several benefits to so-called distance learning. With on-demand learning, companies can save big money on travel costs for in-person training, as well as on the software needed to conduct live training sessions over the Web.
Time is another motivating factor. On-demand training means learning and development representatives no longer have to waste time giving the same training sessions over and over again. Instead, they can simply create an online course once and update it when necessary. The on-demand format also creates fewer occasions where employees are forced to drop what they’re doing to attend scheduled learning sessions that can cut into their daily productivity.
Of course, discussing the necessity of a successful on-demand distance training program is one thing. Actually implementing it is a whole other challenge altogether.
Here are five things to keep in mind when developing a distance learning program.
Accessibility: The most important thing to remember about on-demand learning is that content needs to be easily accessible for everyone. Naturally, this has a lot to do with the platform used to deliver the training. Will the content be shared via email? Can it be accessed directly from a corporate website or learning management system? Will learners need login credentials? Generally speaking, the more seamless it is for remote workers to access their content, the more effective a training program will be.
Mobility: Training materials should also be accessible from any device, including different types of smartphones and tablets. After all, the majority of business professionals depend on their mobile devices for everything these days. There are certain considerations, however, that make for effective, mobile-friendly training content. In general, mobile learning content should be presented in short, easily digestible segments.
It’s also a best practice to avoid giving mobile learners super-granular or overly complex topics to consume. Remember, mobile learning content can be viewed in any environment. Therefore, it’s usually a good idea to stick with straightforward topics — in the form of simple, direct presentations that won’t clutter up the screen or create viewing challenges for learners.
Interactivity: It’s also important to keep distance learners engaged with on-demand content. Because instructors won’t be there for face-to-face interactions, it’s essential to find different strategies for holding learners’ attention. One simple way to do this is to include periodic “check-ins,” or interactive elements that require an action on the part of the learner.
The most common way to add interactivity to on-demand learning is to include questions or short quizzes. Prompting the audience to periodically review information in this manner will help ensure they retain the information on their own. In addition, elements such as polls or survey questions that are updated in real time promote a sense of community among learners.
Measurement: Once a company gets started with on-demand distance learning, it’s critical to monitor and track the program’s performance. Again, learning and development representatives won’t be present to observe the audience or to instantly adjust parts of the training that learners are having difficulty with — so real-time tracking data is invaluable.
Learning and development representatives should use analytics to measure the success of their content and identify areas that could be clarified or improved upon. Are there certain questions the majority of learners are getting wrong? If so, that may be an opportunity to tweak content to emphasize certain parts of the training that are falling through the cracks.
Communication: Finally — and probably most important of all — a successful on-demand distance learning program relies on strong communication. No matter how well a company measures and designs its training content, learners will still have questions and require help at times. It’s important that they can contact the right people quickly and easily to get the answers they need.
Oftentimes, learning and development representatives should be able to help. But subject matter experts should also be available to provide the audience with more detailed explanations when necessary.