Lockdown Learning: How to Maximise Success in Your Remote Learning Strategy

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Steve Finch
Thinqi Ambassador
Lockdown Learning: How to Maximise Success in Your Remote Learning Strategy

As part of the L&D community, you’re probably no stranger to the fact that we’re living during a time of ‘high-frequency change – a term that became a central focus at the 2019 World of Learning event. Yet, even with the changes perpetuated by globalisation and technological advancement, little could have prepared us for the disruption that COVID-19 has caused worldwide. 

In response to government advice, people are now working from home where possible and training courses are being adapted to online classes for digital delivery. For some organisations this method is nothing new, but if this is your first foray into digital learning, the prospect of teaching online classes can be somewhat daunting. 

But have no fear. We’ve taken some of the most common concerns and provided you with potential solutions for each – advice that is founded on years of teaching and learning experience. We’ve left the other big decisions, such as whether or not you choose to wear your ‘smart’ pyjamas today, totally up to you (we are, of course, not judging).

Challenge 1: “How Can I Gauge Learner Engagement in an Online Classroom? Help!”

Shifting learning into a digital environment presents us with a new challenge. While the classroom trainer has traditionally always had the ability to adjust his or her approach according to the learners’ immediate reactions, body language is far harder to read when separated by device screens. A classroom trainer might be able to tell just by the vacant stare of a learner gazing out of the window that boredom is setting in. Likewise, an eager response to a question or an enthused nod is usually enough to indicate that a learner is engaged and listening. 

So, how can you do this for digital learning?

Solution: Digital Body Language

The answer is digital body language – check out our blog post if you need an introduction or a reminder).

A learner’s digital activity can provide useful insights into how they’re engaging with the learning content. You can start by asking yourself the following:

  • How long are learners spending on the learning content? – Perhaps you see they are only spending an average of 30 seconds watching a 4 minute video. Is the video too long? Does it lack relevance? This is your cue to dig deeper.
  • At what time of day are learners most active on your learning platform? – Knowing when your learners are most active means you can reach them at a time when they’re most likely to engage. After all, to meet your learners where they are is part of a good modern learning approach.
  • Which devices are used most to access the learning? – Insight into how your learners are accessing the learning content will inform its design.

Modern learners demand learning that’s empowering and engaging, and to support this we have to do less enforcing and more observing. What are they engaging with? What’s their appetite for learning? How can we meet them at their point of need?

If you want to plan, create and release the right content to your learners in the right format, and at the right time, digital body language is your key to success.

Challenge 2: “How can I ensure learners can easily find the most relevant content when learning remotely? The amount of resources out there is overwhelming!”

Videos, discussions, talks, apps, webinars, podcasts and articles…where do we begin with filtering the amount of content out there? Informal learning is neither as structured nor as prescriptive as its formal counterpart, but it’s still a crucial part of the learning journey. Now that your learners are no longer taking part in face-to-face sessions (for now, at least), you may feel you have far less control over the content they consume and the sessions you are able to moderate.

How can you ensure the learning content they access is relevant without stripping learners of their autonomy?

Solution: Informal Learning Library

This is where an informal learning library can make everybody’s lives easier. An informal learning library is built upon the idea of sharing knowledge and information, which in turn encourages collaboration between learners. It creates a hub whereby all of the training tools and resources can be curated by subject matter experts and encourages organic growth of ‘good’ content. This in turn saves the learner any time that would otherwise be spent searching for that content online themselves. 

Of course, anything that will help make your learners’ lives easier is a sure-fire way to boost motivation and can help remove barriers to learning.

One of the main challenges your remote learners may be facing is isolation. With this in mind, we’ve designed Thinqi in a way that gives users access to a whole community of learners, enabling them to share, reflect and discuss learning activities. This is done through communication tools such as forums, comment threads and real-time chat facilities. Our ‘Networks’ function, for example, allows people to share and comment on resources, engage in discussions and share ‘Playlists’ – a feature that allows users to efficiently bring content together from different sources, and combine them into a single piece of learning content.  Ratings and reviews are another way for users to see what their peers are rating and discover the content worth engaging with. It’s the ideal way to bring people together and pinpoint the best resources, minus the stress.

And we could all do with a little less stress right now, couldn’t we?

Challenge 3: “How can I facilitate online learning without losing the benefits of a ‘coaching’ dynamic? I don’t want my learners to feel unsupported.”

In our blog post ‘The Changing Role of L&D: Coaching For Success’, we discussed how coaching plays an increasingly important role in supporting learners while still allowing them to take responsibility for their own unique learning pathway.

However, you may be concerned that without the dynamic of face-to-face interaction, you risk leaving your learners feeling unsupported and, as a result, discouraged.

How can you continue to support your learners while following social distancing rules?

Solution: Communication Tools

With coaching often thought of as something which happens one-to-one, and in a face-to-face environment, it’s natural to assume that moving into a digital learning environment makes the learning feel somewhat depersonalised. However, this doesn’t have to be the case at all – it’s simply a matter of adapting your methods accordingly.

Try to make use of video conferencing tools to stay connected to learners. Where you can, conduct virtual meetings or digital classroom activities with the camera on; just seeing a familiar face can really help to retain that ‘human’ element of coaching. Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts are just some of the options you can choose from.

What about your learning platform itself? Next-generation learning platforms have come a long way to accommodate coaching capabilities digitally. Coaches need to be able to communicate with learners one-to-one within the digital environment, and have visibility of learner activity in order to measure progress and development. 

For example, Thinqi allows you to manage learners, have discussions and one-to-one conversations, share files, make announcements and set assignments. What’s more, it’s fully xAPI compliant to help you keep track of informal as well as formal learning activity. By using xAPI statements, we can see who views/downloads resources – whether that is documents, videos, content packages or even webpages. We can also log forum posts, acknowledge membership and contributions to social subject-specific online groups, record attendance at face-to-face events (such as discussions or meetings), and capture actions (such as organising an event, or creating a network).

Not only does this help you provide full coaching support to your learners, but it’s also the perfect way to identify, track and develop the people your organisation needs for a bright and prosperous future.

It’s win-win.

In Summary…

Self-isolation doesn’t have to mean learners have to feel isolated. With the right tools, they can feel just as supported in the digital world as they would face-to-face. Keep communication regular, build supportive networks, and ensure your learners can access the right content at the right time, minus the stress of trawling through hit-and-miss search results. 

Remember, as we discussed in a previous blog post, the modern L&D practitioner is a collaborator, coach, data analyst and a curator. With these L&D skills to hand, now is your time to shine.

 

If you’re looking for the right technology to help you adapt to the challenges of remote learning, we’ve got the tools and expertise to help you succeed. Request a demo of Thinqi to arrange to speak to one of our experts.

We’re going to be exploring more about working and learning in a digital environment, so keep an eye on our blog and social media channels to see when these insights are published:

  

 

thinqi logo
Steve Finch
Thinqi Ambassador
Steve Finch is Head of Marketing and Brand Ambassador for Thinqi, the modern learning system. With a background in customer success and digital learning programme delivery, Steve has been helping organisations deliver effective modern learning for nearly 20 years.