30.10.2020 | News
Digital learning on the rise
How companies can combine the advantages of
e-learning with face-to-face training
Lifelong learning is indispensable for most professions ... and has always been. All that is new is the speed; and even more - especially as a result of the corona situation - is the acceptance of digital learning. Alexander Peschke and Markus Felder from next level consulting explain the possibilities and advantages of e-learning and the obstacles and dangers that should be considered.
Learning online is flexible, saves time and money - but it requires certain rules, consistent (self-) discipline and, last but not least, learning progress check-ups. "The crucial factor for success is that companies have to be aware of how the strengths of e-learning can be used," emphasizes Alexander Peschke.
What you should consider while learning digitally
By no means you should digitalize what has been done in classroom training one to one. The shorter and more varied the units are, the greater the learning effect. This requires more effort in preparation, but will lead to a better result.
A pleasant aspect of digital learning is the consideration of the different types of learning types. Depending on your preferences, the learning material can be provided in written form or in explanation videos with graphic animation. And the participants can consume complicated content repeatedly or skip familiar content - but there is still the risk of losing the thread or missing something important.
This is where exercises or multiple-choice tests offer a good opportunity to control and consolidate the learning process. Despite all the didactic diversity in e-learning, it is important to remember that all learning material must be regularly updated and adapted to innovations. While this is relatively easy with texts, it usually involves considerable effort when it comes to videos, podcasts or online lectures. So it' s better not to put short-lived information into complicated videos!
An effective advantage of virtual learning lies in the relatively simple integration of prominent people via video messages - whether they are board members of a global company or a well-known expert. This allows you to adapt general learning programs to your own company or department and situation - which not only motivates the participants, but also anchors the learning content in a deeper way.
Learning strategies, goals and controlling
Learning is not only fun but also an effort, which can be compared to climbing a mountain. You can enjoy a vision that you didn't have before, but there is also the effort of the level, where you have to master many (sometimes exhausting) kilometers ... and on top of that on your own, in front of a monitor. That's where motivation, help and also the right planning is needed to create an individual learning strategy. All this can be taught by professional trainers, the mountain guides of knowledge. Similarly useful are working groups, where you can discuss what you have learned or try out new knowledge. Give and take, learn from your own mistakes and those of others is the motto. "We should work harder on transferring knowledge in a playful way," says Peschke. "We can learn from the developers of various computer games which motivate millions of users to play regularly in order to discover new worlds and earn bonus points.
The great advantage of e-learning, its flexibility, is also accompanied by a certain degree of personal responsibility. In this context, it is important to make sure that the participants do not lose the overview and/or motivation. The participants should be given a comprehensible red thread and be guided individually. "The training should be structured in a way that everyone can help him or herself according to their own needs," explains Markus Felder. A beginner can delve into the basics, while there could be a 60-second video to refresh an already familiar learning content.
Learning goals also require regular monitoring. This has less to do with surveillance than with motivation and indications to learning obligations. For example, participants can be reminded of their workload via emails if they are not seen on the learning platform for a longer period of time. In addition, tests can be used to check understanding and knowledge levels and, when a certain number of points is reached, provide access to attractive supplementary training courses.
Learning journeys - the new mix of virtual and presence trainings
Not everything can be learned in a digital format on a screen - in addition to e-learning, face-to-face training and personal interaction are also required to develop social skills, for example. "We are already developing learning journeys with our customers that include not only classroom training, webinars, but also self-study elements such as e-learning, case studies to be worked out or presentations for management, colleagues, etc.," reports Alexander Peschke on the new practice.
Concerning the learning sector, presence training can be perfectly combined with reflective web sessions. "This certainly wouldn't have worked so smoothly before Corona, but now it's accepted with great pleasure" adds Markus Felder and emphasizes two positive effects: Firstly, for the participants, who consciously make sure to apply what they have learned - because they are going to talk about it afterwards. And secondly for the trainers, because they receive feedback on the effectiveness of the seminar after the practical application and not only on the training itself. This intensifies the customer relationship in both directions.
Web-based training allows everyone to prepare individually, so that they can achieve a balanced level of knowledge with the others in face-to-face training. In this ideal case, participants with previous knowledge will not be bored, while newcomers will not be overwhelmed if they don't know the basics of terms and information.
Web-Sessions - locally and temporally flexible knowledge transfer
Before Corona, participation in webinars was limited to a few "early adopters", but the acceptance of these and other digital forms of learning has increased significantly - the new form of knowledge transfer is now assumed in many places as part of a comprehensive learning program. The great advantage of not being tied to a specific location and the fact that there is no need to travelling all the way to the training center and back home can also be transferred to the temporal level: "We can offer online training much quicker and with greater flexibility, because for the participants it requires less organisational effort," explains Alexander Peschke.
Regular time-prompt dates, divided into basic and expert discussions, can be offered. Such one-and-a-half-hour sessions pave the way from stockpile learning to demand-oriented, short-term learning. And these online meetings also offer the possibility of networking, where one can discuss and exchange ideas with others, where knowledge and information can be passed on and also received back.
"Due to the circumstances associated with Corona, a great leap was made here - but we are still pretty much at the beginning regarding this Short-Term, Agile and New", summarizes Markus Felder and refers to an online product of this new kind with a significant name: "Shots - those are Short Online Trainings, where it' s all about a manageable topic, about methods and tips that can be implemented very quickly.
No matter whether it concerns daily cooperation in companies or further education and training: Due to Corona, web sessions have become established and are now highly respected by both employees and managers. "Even if this rethinking with regarding online meetings would have been possible to a large extent before Corona, in many places it was only born out of necessity", Alexander Peschke highlights positive aspects that we can take with us out of this crisis: That home learning works and that we don't have to make a journey of several days to a seminar hotel for every training course.
"With all the anonymity that sometimes goes hand in hand with digital learning, we must always keep an eye on the people in their diverse personalities," notes Markus Felder. "That's why the individual tailoring of a learning program to the target group is an important success factor in digital learning. And Alexander Peschke recommends: "Pilot a digital learning path for a well-structured topic and finally combine it with a suitable classroom training.
Both experts agree: The mix of digital learning and face-to-face training is the key to success, combining relevant knowledge with the necessary skills and garnishing the whole thing with incessant social skills. Learning means understanding and feeling, perceiving and recognizing, falling down and getting up, amazement and enthusiasm.