The coronavirus pandemic is becoming the world’s largest experiment in online learning.
The COVID-19 outbreak is changing the way people work and learn. As it continues to spread, organizations are reducing face to face interactions and massively increasing the use of virtual platforms.
For remote working, companies will see how productivity and efficiency can be maintained when large numbers of employees work virtually. Measures and outcomes such as deadlines and production schedules, work quality, and customer satisfaction will need to be tracked and evaluated.
Outcomes also need to be tracked for virtual training and eLearning.
Companies need to assess more than just course completion – they need to be able to see how often employees are visiting training, what they are learning and how they are applying new knowledge. You can read more about this in Forbes article.
The perceived success of eLearning will be a factor in whether or not this is a permanent change in how we learn.
At ITSM Zone, our team of eLearning experts broadcast an ITSM Crowd Special Edition in which they talked about the best practices that you might want to think about as part of making switch from classroom to online learning. As well, each of them shared Top Tips for you in order to make your journey easier.
Top Tips that Can Improve your eLearning
Our Director and Lead Tutor, Claire Agutter, shared her 12 years’ experience when it comes to eLearning. So, how do you approach eLearning successfully?
Here are her Top Tips:
Create a study plan and stick to it
A study plan is critical to online learning. A training course that might be 3 days in a classroom isn’t necessarily a good experience if you lock yourself in a room and do 3 days of eLearning. That can be a little intense. Instead, look at how long you have to study, look at the deadlines and then break your study down and make a study plan. Knowing when all of your assignments are due until the end of the eLearning course will facilitate your time management.
Take your time and apply what you're learning
Great eLearning courses don’t stop at being interesting, they take that engagement and use it to push audiences, customers and company leaders into ACTION.
With eLearning you do have this advantage – you are not forced to study in a classroom for eight hours. If there is something that you see during your study time and you think that is relevant for your role you can pause your training and start thinking about how you can apply it. Make sure you actually apply what you are learning during your studies, because that is one of the best benefits of eLearning.
We’re getting feedback from students at the moment that the uncertainty around coronavirus is making them feel less productive and disrupting their ability to study effectively. eLearning is preferable to virtual classroom in this situation, as you can pick it up and put it down when you feel able to. We’re also hearing this is a huge advantage for parents who are combing homework and study with their new role of home school teacher.
Create a support group
During your eLearning you can feel a bit isolated if you study on your own. Think about who you can interact with during your training. For example, you can join a LinkedIn group or forum. As well, colleagues, friends and family can be supportive here. For example, our Spotlight on Kanban course offers tips for home study and projects as well as IT cases.
Study little and often
Time management can be challenging. Besides your classes, you will have other commitments like extracurricular activities, work, and social engagements. Creating a study plan allows you to study little and often. Add your study sessions to your calendar like any other commitments. This ensures that you remember this is time set aside specifically for studying. Even with an hour or two per a day you will be on track with your study plan.
Complement your training with online research
There is a whole world of content online – blogs, forums, discussion groups. Start doing your research and build on your knowledge that you are gaining from you training course.
Getting Your Company Prepared for eLearning
ITSM Zone Operations Manager, Kirsty Unila, provides dedicated support to our customers and partners. She and her team look after corporate accounts and make sure our clients have everything they need – from training needs analysis to ongoing reporting and next steps. Based on her role, she is sharing her Top Tips for eLearning from a corporate perspective.
Global training in a local office
Training isn’t just important to any company, it is vital.
One of the top things that holds back a company is the knowledge of their employees and how fast they are expanding their skills. Internal training is vitally important to keeping a company sharp and competitive. Many times, training is viewed as an important task but is put on the back burner because no one knows how to handle it effectively. It is important to highlight that online training gives the same outcome/certification as classroom training. One of the biggest advantages of eLearning from a corporate perspective is that the global training is in your local office. Secondly, it is cost-effective. Compared to classroom training, there are no travel costs and not time out of the office. If you’re training a globally distributed team, you can be reassured they are all receiving the same messages and being trained to the same standard.
Training and investing in your staff gives you better return on investment in terms of staff retention. Existing employees can mentor newer members of the team and help put learning into the operational environment. Pairing a new employee with a mentor is a great component to add to your continuing onboarding process. Mentors can offer guidance and be a sounding board for newcomers, welcoming them into the company. And it’s a win-win: new team members learn the ropes from experienced employees, and, in return, new hires offer a fresh viewpoint to your mentors.
Use virtual hangouts
As many companies are facing or planning for closures due to COVID-19, eLearning is a way of providing distance learning solutions, training and resources to help your team stay connected. During your training process you can always use virtual hangouts to chat between students that are taking the same training. As well, the lockdown doesn’t mean that you can’t contact your training tutor support and ask for advice.
One of the tools that ITSM Zone can give to company managers is reporting. Managers can monitor the activity of their staff and make sure everyone is progressing as they should be.
Take time, set times
Make use of the reporting, have a plan, and give your team enough time to do the training. As a manager, check on progress and ensure staff are moving through the course as they should.
Best Practice in eLearning Creation
ITSM Zone Education Portfolio Manager, Kat Turner, has been in the education field for more than a decade. She shared Top Tips about best practice in eLearning Creation.
The way we are learning is changing
The way we are learning is changing very quickly, the way we want to consume, and access learning is changing. Professionals want to access learning that:
eLearning creation needs to respond to this by providing a predictive learning experience with value for businesses, meeting the needs of the learner and business expectations.
Mobile learning is a must for high engagement
“Mobile learning now features among the top three business development priorities for companies and ranks only behind the need for seamless business alignment and improved data mining.” (Brandon Hall Group)
Mobile learning is the top trend in 2020 for eLearning (https://elearningindustry.com/) and will continue to be so. This relates to:
Learning should be short and interactive
According to the Journal of Applied Psychology, learning in bite-sized pieces makes the transfer of learning from the trainer to the student 17% more efficient
Short, focused learning encourages interaction and should be Action oriented. How short should it be? It depends on the content but our eLearning is set at 10 minutes maximum, this enables learners to study in bite sized chunks and aligns with the best practice of microlearning, which can be used to deliver just in time training and achieve a specific outcome quickly, for example when learning a practical skill.
Short lessons should be combined with a clear goal that must be reached by the end of the session and the goal must match or relate to the specification learning outcomes. For example, in our Agile Scrum course an outcome might be to Explain why Agile methodologies are important and how they add value, this is practiced with an exercise and tested with a quiz.
The focus should be on what needs to be learnt rather than what you want to teach and work from that. With E-learning the best practice is to aim to pre-empt the student’s questions and be predictive, as you won’t see them face to face, so when writing I usually think to myself: does this make sense, have I explained it enough, have I addressed the content from different perspectives?
Learning aids should be included such as:
Performance support tools are a learning aid that should be used to reinforce learning. For ITSM Zone, this will include study guides, reference materials, case studies, templates, tips to support workflows and other materials, depending on the course. These can be easily accessed in the same place as the learning.
We have both advanced and foundation level courses at ITSM Zone, and these require a different approach to create the best online learning experience. For example, Certified Business Relationship Manager (CBRM) is an advanced course which has a large case study built into the lessons and exercises, and real-world examples and testimonials from CBRMs in the industry. It is an open book exam, so it tests you on your ability to apply the skills and knowledge learnt at foundation level and focuses on you developing the practical skills to be a strategic partner and perform a strategic BRM role. You can also opt to join the BRM Institute and gain advice from the BRM community to further support your learning. In contrast, a Foundation course like Cloud Computing is about providing you with a fundamental understanding of cloud concepts from a business and technical perspective. It provides research exercises and tasks to expand your learning and support you developing your knowledge of cloud models and environments. Foundation courses use tools and links to nudge students towards self-directed learning in a supportive way.
Storytelling techniques and personalization help to engage and motivate
Personalization can be used to match material to a career pathway based on their current skills and interests or future needs. It can be as simple as asking the student to reflect on a key point and apply it to themselves or develop exercises that get them to draw on their experiences.
All of these methods are best practices in eLearning. We use them at ITSM Zone to help us meet the needs of professionals and organizations, as we continue to develop and respond to developments in the industry.
Developments in eLearning Software
ITSM Zone Technical Director Dave Agutter is a highly experienced service delivery manager who has 25 years of IT experience. He is constantly reviewing the technology used by ITSM Zone to make sure it provides the best possible learning experience.
Technology allows you to move seamlessly from device to device
At ITSM Zone we are constantly doing changes of how we produce eLearning. The ability to learn at your own pace using interactive content that is available on any device is what our learners are demanding. Our training allows you to stop and start when you wish and pick up exactly where you left off no matter what PC or mobile device you use next.
Traditional “death by PowerPoint” is (or should be) no more
Let’s admit it. Presentations are here to stay but their format is (or should be) undergoing a radical transformation. At ITSM Zone we transformed our content to change it from so-called "death by power point" to engaging, interactive, digital first lessons that avoid boredom and maintain learner attention. We use interactions including drag and drop exercises, quizzes, real world links and cartoons with a narrative to illustrate how to apply material in the workplace.
We are always doing our best to make your eLearning fun: weaving a story, harnessing the power of videos and visuals or just trying to keep it challenging for you.
eLearning provides a better working environment
For managers and leaders, the best possible outcome is to have employees who can apply what they are learning in the working environment, as well as passing certification exams. Technology helps bring eLearning to life, and reporting allows managers to view their employees progress in real-time with a course pathway. This helps to confirm the ROI from your training investment.