Planning Publish-Pandemic Studying Supply – eLearning Trade
Proactive steps for tomorrow’s learning
The way we live our lives has changed significantly in 2020/2021. Most of us spent a lot more time indoors. Many of us have also spent much more time without friends, family, and colleagues. By and large, we lead a more isolated existence.
Companies have supported their employees in these situations through remote work practices and collaborative technologies. Video calls have increased significantly, replacing face-to-face meetings and even many phone calls. Chats via messenger solutions have replaced water coolers and cross-table conversations. Diving into a new world of remote work, somehow everyone almost managed to keep up.
Learning and the pandemic
At the beginning of the pandemic, training activities had to be switched all too suddenly to online delivery. While many organizations had at least some digital content available, not everything needed was available in an appropriate format.
Instructors who had never conducted training outside of a face-to-face scenario suddenly had to grapple with new video conferencing tools. Learning development teams had to post new content to help employees learn about areas such as IT security for remote working, using the company’s online collaboration tools, and so on.
It generally worked, but it was a very stressful time to be quick to respond to urgent needs and changes for the vast majority of learners in these environments. Over time, they have developed the skills and resources to work in this remote mode.
In addition to more training being offered via video, micro-learning has also gained in popularity. Breaking the learning down into smaller pieces helps tackle the attention challenges in today’s workforce. It makes it easy to deliver on-demand training. It also enables learners suffering from digital overload such as “zoom fatigue” to consume and take more of the content than they would in a lengthy session.
But the world continues to change, and as the global pandemic situation slowly improves, organizations have started working on changes to support the next steps. But what does this mean for professional learners?
Post-pandemic learning delivery planning
Employees (or customers) have different expectations today than they did two years ago. They’ll be different again in a year if things keep getting better. We have moved from working locally to working remotely and are now turning back to working locally. However, it is to be expected that we will not revert to the previous working model. Instead, it will be a hybrid model.
Many people assume that these will be people who split their work between local and remote locations. But it’s probably more nuanced than that. Some people will stay away while others will return to local offices. Others divide their time on a fixed schedule, others do so on an ad hoc basis.
We have been able to use blended learning in eLearning for some time. These generally fall into three categories:
- Not interactive: such as video, audio, graphic and text content
- Asynchronous interactive: like discussion forums
- Synchronous interactive: like physical or virtual classrooms / one-to-one
At this last point I see a new shift coming into play. In the case of hybrid work, it is possible that neither a local nor a remote presence is guaranteed. It could be both at the same time, with some people attending the training in person and others remotely.
While this divided attention environment may seem overwhelming at first, there are things we can do to make it easier to manage. The key is to bring together a shared experience of the best points.
Connection of physical and virtual classrooms
First, consider how you can get your remote learners into the physical classroom. Any video conferencing software these days can let you see people’s videos or avatars on the screen. Hence, you should have a screen in the classroom to place them on. This setup allows the people in the classroom and the teacher to connect with them.
Next, you need to have cameras, microphones, and speakers in the classroom that will allow the teacher to broadcast what the distance learners are supposed to see and hear content, and be able to see, hear, and engage with the classroom learners. Learning as a shared experience should never be underestimated in terms of effectiveness.
There are many ways to switch audiovisual equipment. With various microphones such as array microphones and wireless microphones and an even wider range of compatible video cameras, the technology for this is well established and reliable.
It may even be advisable to have multiple instructors on hand at the beginning of the transition and during longer sessions. While one teacher is teaching, the other can play a supportive role, switch cameras, keep the online learners connected, etc. With practice this can no doubt be accomplished by a single teacher, but don’t forget that with two teachers you might be able to do this are to be able to conduct a course with a larger learner population anyway, so that this is not necessarily an additional effort.
Use of digital tools in the physical classroom
With the virtual and physical class networked in this way, the second step is to ensure that the advantages of a digital classroom can be brought into the physical classroom. The key to this is a setup that allows the teacher to access the same digital tools in a physical room as in the virtual room. Sometimes this can be done sufficiently well by sitting at a computer. At other times, for freehand drawing and writing, additional technology makes all the difference, especially interactive boards.
Many trainers will already have access to interactive dry-erase boards. For those who do not have such technology or need to be more mobile to deliver, relatively inexpensive technology is available. Devices are available that, in conjunction with a projector or screen, can turn them into an interactive tool.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll on society and businesses, but as with any challenge, it has moved us forward and taught us many lessons. We have to look to the future now. We have to find a way to continue putting what we have learned into practice and to examine what challenges and opportunities arise from it.
The coming months will offer new opportunities to integrate what you have learned in the pandemic in new and interesting ways. We were reactive at the start of the pandemic, but this is your chance to take a more proactive approach to providing learning within your company and perhaps beyond.