5 Advantages Of Creating Your First Self-Paced Course

How do you the address the growing popularity of remote classes and take advantage of the opportunity they present? How big a change is this for you from what you do currently? Let us talk about creating your first self-paced course.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Leadership In Online Classrooms: In eLearning, Everyone Is A Leader

It is important for both students and teachers to develop and practice leadership in online classrooms to make eLearning environments rewarding and effective. This article will consider some of the key ways this can be achieved.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Asynchronous Learning Advantages And Disadvantages In Corporate Training

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Asynchronous Learning In Corporate Training

Offering the employees control over their online training experience is often a priority for eLearning professionals when designing and developing online training courses. This is exactly what asynchronous learning does; it allows employees to learn at their own pace by giving them full responsibility of learning and the power to attend only when it is convenient for them. It really sounds fantastic. Synchronous learning techniques, on the other hand, may simulate the traditional classroom experience more successfully, but the truth is that the average modern learner leads a busy life; more often than not, aligning a busy schedule with the synchronous learning requirements is quite challenging. Asynchronous learning respects factors affecting regular attendance to online training courses and ensures that they are accessed and completed at different times for each employee, improving learning outcomes. But are there any drawbacks of the asynchronous learning method? In this article, I'll share 5 advantages and 5 disadvantages of asynchronous learning in order to help you determine when you should use it for your online training deliverable and when you should not.

5 Asynchronous Learning Advantages

  1. Offers employees complete control over their learning.
    As a learner-centered method, asynchronous learning gives employees full responsibility of their online training experience. This means that everyone is allowed to decide how, when, and where to learn. Furthermore, not only distance but also time barriers are eliminated, and thus, as employee-trainer interaction takes place according to personal schedules, there is more potential for personalized guidance and attention from online facilitators or trainers.
  2. Respectful to one’s own learning pace.
    Asynchronous learning gives employees time to reflect on what they are learning before answering questions or joining online discussions. As not all employees absorb the online training material in the same way, an asynchronous learning solution can benefit even employees with poor learning skills by offering them the ability to take their time to complete responses and develop their critical thinking skills.
  3. Convenient.
    Asynchronous learning is the ideal learning solution for adults with busy schedules, as it doesn’t require employees to be online at a specific day or time. Employees can communicate with their online facilitator or virtual classmates at their own convenience and instantly have access to information, online training assignments, and other online resources.
  4. Less social obstacles.
    While online interaction and collaboration are proven to enhance the online training experience, the truth is that there are many employees out there who don’t enjoy socializing and feel uncomfortable about the idea of participating in online discussions, where their more dominating peers have the greatest impact upon the virtual classroom. An asynchronous learning approach helps introverted learners eliminate social anxiety, as learning in isolation makes them feel safer and more comfortable.
  5. Interactive regardless of location and time barriers.
    Asynchronous learning methods allow employees not only to learn at their own pace, but also to interact with their peers and online facilitator no matter which the time zone they live in is. Discussion boards, blogs, and emails are always available to ensure that online interaction is effective, online collaboration for group projects is possible, and conversation takes place over distance and place.

5 Asynchronous Learning Disadvantages 

  1. Lacks instant feedback.
    Feedback in eLearning
     is essential, as it helps both employees and trainers address issues and misunderstandings related to the online training course material. And, of course, the quicker the feedback is received, the sooner can the employees get back on the right learning track. In an asynchronous learning environment instant feedback is impossible, as the online training course is not live and employees may waste valuable time waiting for their questions to be answered by their trainers or even their peers.
  2. Lacks personal interaction.
    Personal interaction among participants is eliminated in the asynchronous learning context, and the lack of a more “human” atmosphere disconnects employees not only from their peers, but, interestingly enough, from the online training material itself; not feeling part of a learning environment can make employees see the online training course as a burden. Learning in isolation may work for some, but it certainly does not work for most people who need personal interaction in order to maintain or even increase their motivation levels. All in all, not being able to personally interact with other people can lead to failure to achieve the learning goals and outcomes of the online training course.
  3. No live collaboration and real time activities.
    Learning at one’s own pace also means waiting for others to respond, often for long periods of time. Asynchronous learning doesn’t offer the ability for real time discussions and live collaboration, both of which are proven to increase motivation and engagement. Furthermore, overall communication between collaborators can be difficult due to the general sense of being isolated and “disconnected”.
  4. Can cause lack of motivation.
    Lack of live interaction can disengage and demotivate employees, who may need encouragement and stimulation in order to log in, read the material, and complete the online training course. In fact, procrastination is more likely to occur in an asynchronous learning environment than in any other online learning environment. Personal interaction helps employees maintain their interest, whereas isolation rarely boosts motivation.
  5. Requires self-discipline.
    Finally, asynchronous learning asks from participants to be focused, goal oriented, and with great time management skills. Success in an asynchronous learning environment requires of employees to be both strongly committed and disciplined, which can be a huge disadvantage for those who are not exactly highly self-motivated.

Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of asynchronous learning can help you determine whether it is ideal for your future online training plans. There is no doubt that asynchronous learning can be incredibly beneficial, but there are certainly some cons to consider before following a pure asynchronous learning approach.

However, there are certainly some ways in which you can achieve success in developing effective asynchronous learning programs: Read the article 6 Tips For Creating Engaging Asynchronous Online Training Courses and discover 6 tips for asynchronous online training that can help you develop engaging, exciting, and memorable online training courses.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Synchronous vs Asynchronous Learning: Can You Tell the Difference?

Synchronous vs Asynchronous Learning: How To Integrate Them Into Your eLearning Course Design

Synchronous learning happens in real time. The learners typically log on to an eLearning platform, such as a web conferencing or webinar tool, and engage with the instructor and peers. This can even come in the form of an online chat room where learners gather at a specific time and date to broaden their understanding of the topic. It is an ideal option for distracted or unmotivated learners who need a more collaborative online experience, as well as self-guided learners who require a higher level of support or direction.

This is the exact opposite of asynchronous learning, which can occur at any time. Learners are able to complete modules whenever they like, regardless of whether other members of the online class are logged on. They are given the tools and information they need, but must decide when and how they will use these online resources to achieve their learning goals. With that being said, there are usually deadlines and schedules that a learner must follow. For example, they may have to turn in their online assignments by the end of each month or have to participate in at least one online discussion per week. Asynchronous learning courses often have a common space where learners can post questions, turn in online assignments, or engage in eLearning activities.

4 Tips For Designing A Successful Asynchronous Learning Strategy

  1. Variety is key.
    Integrating a wide range of online activities and exercises not only avoids dreaded learner boredom, but it also caters to a broad range of learning preferences and styles. For example, offering a text-only online course might exclude learners who prefer to learn via eLearning videos and simulations. This is why it’s essential to include a good mix of learning materials into your asynchronous learning strategy. Bear in mind that self-guided learners are more likely to disengage from the eLearning experience if the online course fails to grab and hold their interest.
  2. Develop a solid support structure.
    One of the downfalls of asynchronous learning is that it lacks face-to-face instruction. As such, you must have a solid support system in place to assist those who need additional help with the subject matter, or even the learning management system. If they encounter a glitch or cannot log in to the eLearning platform, they should always have a way to get in touch with someone who can offer assistance.
  3. Create a collaborative online community.
    Self-guided learners who are participating in asynchronous learning experiences run the risk of feeling isolated. They are not engaging in real-time discussions on a regular basis. Thus, they are not able to collaborate with their peers and benefit from their experience as often. To alleviate this, consider building an online community, such as a forum or blog, where learners can meet and share their ideas, concerns, and questions. You might even want to think about developing online exercises that require learners to team up, via web-based project management platforms, to complete the online assignment or solve a common challenge.
  4. Make it easily digestible.
    Your asynchronous learners are probably going to be accessing learning materials on-the-go. Therefore, you need to make the modules bite-sized, so that they can get the info they need as quickly as possible. This also gives them the ability to pause once they’ve completed a module and then pick up where they left off at a later time. Digestible learning materials help to avoid cognitive overload, as well, which is always a plus. Be sure to include a course map that allows learners to track their progress and quickly view which module is up next.

3 Tips For Designing A Successful Synchronous Learning Strategy

  1. Set the tone.
    The key to an effective synchronous learning course is creating the ideal learning environment. Since your learners are going to be participating in a real time discussion or online presentation, you need to have their full attention; this means removing all distractions from the room when they are accessing the eLearning course, and setting aside enough time in their schedule to sit in for the entire online discussion. Make them aware of the expectations well in advance so that they know how to prepare for the event.
  2. Don’t overload learners with text.
    Only include text for the key takeaways of the online presentation. Don’t overload their mental processes by writing out your eLearning script word for word on the screen, or giving them text passages for each story that you share. The only exception to this rule is, of course, when you have hearing impaired learners in your audience. If this is the case, then you may want to consider adding optional subtitles that can be turned on or off during the event.
  3. Create a flexible schedule.
    Unlike asynchronous learning, synchronous learning courses typically stick to a schedule. However, this doesn’t mean that learners should have to put their lives on hold in order to participate in a virtual discussion. Try to make the schedule as flexible as possible, and record your online events so that absent learners can still get the information they need at a later time. Before you begin the eLearning course, conduct a survey to figure out the best days and times for your learners, so that you can create a schedule that works for them. Also, keep their busy personal and professional lives in mind when creating the deadlines for online assignments and eLearning assessments.

To determine which approach is right for your learning goals and objectives, as well as your audience, conduct surveys, focus groups, and needs evaluation analysis before you begin developing your curriculum. If you’re still on the fence about whether an asynchronous or synchronous strategy is ideal for your learners, you may want to think about utilizing a blended learning approach that offers the best of both worlds.

Looking for an affordable way to reach out to online learners and boost peer-to-peer collaboration? Read the article 6 Tips To Use Google Hangouts For Synchronous Learning to discover how you can use FREE Google Hangouts in your synchronous learning strategy.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

7 Tips On How To Use Forums In eLearning

How To Use Forums In eLearning

Over 3 billion people actively use the internet, which is almost half of the world’s population, and roughly 70% have a social media account. This speaks volumes about social interactions in our tech-centric world. More and more people are turning to the internet to reach out to stay updated and in-touch. As eLearning professionals, we have the opportunity to tap into this need for virtual interaction by using online forums in our eLearning course design. Here are some top tips for using forums in eLearning experiences.

  1. Choose the ideal platform.
    Before you begin developing your instructional strategy in order to include forums in eLearning, you will have to decide which online forum you are going to use. If you want to post articles then ask your learners to comment on the posts, or even create posts of their own, then a blog may be the answer. On the other hand, if you want to stick to shorter responses and have more control over the online discussions, then a threaded message board could be the ideal solution. When choosing an online platform, think about the learning objectives of the eLearning course and the needs of your audience. If they are a bit reluctant to join the online discussion, consider a social media platform that they are already familiar with. For example, you can create Google, LinkedIn, or Facebook groups and invite your learners to become members.
  2. Set the ground rules beforehand.
    They key to running successful forums in eLearning is setting expectations and guidelines in advance. Learners must know their role in the online forums, as well as how they should behave when interacting with their peers. How often are they expected to post and who will be given access to the thread? Can they start their own discussion by creating a new post? Will the instructor need to check-in on the online discussion from time to time, or are you handing the reigns over to your learners? Also, let them know what is appropriate and what the consequences are for posting disrespectful commentary.
  3. Plant the idea then watch it grow.
    Forums give your audience a place to share their ideas and explore the subject matter outside of the traditional eLearning environment. As such, the facilitator’s presence should be minimal if you are trying to encourage peer-based collaboration. Guide the online discussion by posting a question, thought, or idea, then let them take over. Monitor the conversation to ensure that it stays on-topic, but give your learners the opportunity to share their skills and insights with each other without interruption. When you feel as though the current idea has been thoroughly examined, post a new idea to get the online discussion flowing again.
  4. Create smaller groups for reluctant learners.
    Even though many learners use technology on a daily basis, some of them may still be reluctant to share their thoughts and experiences in a public forum. In these cases, it may be beneficial to divide the class into smaller groups of 5 to 10 learners and only allow members of the group to see the discussion thread. This encourage hesitant learners to engage in the online discussion without feeling as though they are being judged, which leads to more active participation overall. If you notice that specific learners are still not interacting with their peers on the forum, then reach out to them privately and address their concerns.
  5. Link to interactive resources.
    Online forums typically lack that all-important multimedia element. However, you can add that in by including links to YouTube videos, articles, and online scenarios, that will engage and inspire your learners. You can also link back to learning materials you’ve created, such as a page within the eLearning course or an eLearning assessment, so that your learners can refresh their memory and test their progress. Just make sure that the links you provide are relevant to the conversation. If not, then create a new thread where they can share their thoughts about the multimedia presentation of the eLearning course material. This helps to keep each thread focused and avoids any confusion.
  6. Create a posting schedule.
    Many autonomous learners may procrastinate about posting if they aren’t given an online forum schedule. For example, you can ask them to create at least one post or comment by every Sunday. Keep in mind that online learners have to fit this online learning activity into their training schedule. So, give them ample time to post and give a virtual nudge to those who haven’t posted by the end of the week. It may be wise to give them a schedule in advance and let them know what you’ll be discussing each week. This gives them the chance to work the posts into their schedule, as well as brainstorm their ideas for the specific topics.
  7. Know the many uses of online forums.
    Online forums aren’t just for peer-to-peer discussion. They can also provide learners with the support they need from their instructors or tutors, and keep them up-to-date with the latest news about the online course. For example, if you need to change the time of the upcoming live event, simply login to the forum and post a notification. Do some brainstorming to figure out how online forums can make your eLearning course more immersive and interactive for your audience.

Forums in eLearning give learners the opportunity to connect with their peers and receive invaluable feedback. They are particularly useful for learners who lack motivation or are easily distracted, as they keep them immersed in the educational experience and cater to a wide range of learning styles.

Now that you know how to use forums in eLearning, check out the article 10 Netiquette Tips For Online Discussions to find out how online discussions contribute to your critical thinking, as well as 10 top netiquette tips for participating in online discussions.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

6 Tips For Creating Engaging Asynchronous Online Training Courses

How To Create Engaging Asynchronous Online Training Courses

Giving employees the opportunity to build their professional skill sets and stay up-to-date on the latest policies and procedures on a 24/7 basis offers a vast array of benefits. But how can you design truly effective asynchronous online training experiences without missing out on that all-important motivation factor? In this article, I’ll share some tips for asynchronous online training that can help you develop engaging, exciting and memorable online training courses.

  1. Make it as interactive as possible.
    One of the pitfalls of asynchronous online training experiences is that they may lack the immersion and interactivity that the synchronous approach can offer. This is why it’s essential to integrate as many interactive elements as possible. From branching scenarios and effective eLearning games to videos that grab employees attention and hold it by piquing their interest, the goal is to draw them into the learning process and then keep them there by offering them a sufficient amount of exciting and entertaining interactive activities and learning materials. If employees can interact with the online training course, then they are more likely to actually retain the information they are being offered. Remember that employees don’t necessarily look forward to training events. As such, you will have to give them plenty of opportunities to become active participants by encouraging them to interact and engage with the subject matter.
  2. Keep it clear, concise, and easily digestible.
    Employees who are participating in asynchronous online training aren’t going to have an abundance of time at their disposal. More often than not, they are going to access the online training material when it’s most convenient for them, which means that all of the information will need to be clear, to the point, and bite-sized in order to offer the most benefit. Ideally, online training modules or lessons should not be longer than 15 to 20 minutes. If a subject requires a greater time commitment, then break it down into easily digestible modules, so that your employees can complete it quickly and conveniently when they have the time to do so. Also, in case you plan on making the online training courses more lengthy, allow employees to pick up right where they left off, by enabling a bookmark feature or including a clickable course map.
  3. Tie everything into real world benefits and applications.
    Employees are accessing the online training course for one reason only: to receive real world benefits or to master a skill or process related to their job. Thus, every piece of your online training content, activity, or assessment should tie into real world benefits or applications. They must be able to see the value of what they are expected to learn or else they won’t be able to connect or relate with the asynchronous online training course. Since employees won’t have an on-site trainer to emphasize these benefits, you will need to address them at the beginning of each online training module and then remind them periodically via recaps, assessments or real world examples.
  4. Use message boards and online groups to spark discussion.
    Given that asynchronous online training experiences often lack a collaborative element, you will need to supplement it by encouraging them to use message boards, online discussion groups, blogs and instant messages to interact with their colleagues and address any concerns or questions they might have. By collaborating with other employees virtually, they gain the ability to not only build team work skills, but also to benefit from one another’s experiences and insights. For example, by using Google Apps for education or project management platforms, you can ask them to design a blog that delves into company policies or processes, or to create a scenario based upon on-the-job challenges.
  5. Incorporate stories and examples that create a connection.
    Ultimately, employees need to form a connection to the online training experience. Even though they might not always connect with it on a personal level, they should be able to relate to the subject matter professionally. To do this, it is often beneficial to integrate stories or real world examples that include challenges or situations that they encounter while at work. For example, if you are creating an asynchronous online training experience for customer service associates, you can include a story about a customer service employee who deals with a difficult customer which emphasizes the importance of superior customer care. This allows them to sympathize with the character in the story while learning how to view the situation from the perspective of the customer.
  6. Give them ample opportunity to assess and recap what they have learned.
    Periodic assessments, overviews, summaries and recaps are essential in asynchronous online training courses. You need to be able to gauge their progress and how much knowledge they have actually absorbed and retained, so that you can determine if further action is required to improve their job performance. This will also give you a good indication of whether or not your online training strategy is truly effective or if certain aspects need to be modified to boost employees' comprehension and knowledge retention.

Use these tips to design amazing asynchronous online training experiences. Even employees who may be pressed for time or lack the motivation to become active participants are sure to get the most out of their online training if all of these essential building blocks are in place.

Wondering how to adopt a learner-centered online training approach that gives employees control over their own training and ties into real world benefits? Read the article Top 5 Benefits Of Learner-Centered Online Training where I highlight the many benefits that a learner-centered approach can bring to your online training courses.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

7 Tips To Create an Effective Asynchronous eLearning Strategy

How to create an Asynchronous eLearning Strategy

There are a variety of benefits associated with Asynchronous learning. For instance, not only can it offer learners the ability to access information and coursework when it's most convenient for them, but it also allows them to learn at their own pace and fully acquire the knowledge that is being provided before moving forward. The question is: how should you begin integrating an asynchronous learning approach into your eLearning design strategy to create the best possible eLearning experience? Check the following 7 Tips To Create an Effective Asynchronous eLearning Strategy

  1. Create an online forum to encourage collaboration.
    The main challenge that arises with asynchronous learning is that learners often lack direct access to instructor and peer assistance. However, adding an online forum and/or social learning elements, such as Facebook and Twitter, allows you to encourage group collaboration. Learners can then tap into the knowledge and experience of their peers, or communicate with the online facilitator, while still studying the core content at their own pace. To illustrate, consider posting a question or comment on the board to spark online discussion and ask learners to post their opinion or answer. This also gives online facilitators the opportunity to view learners’ participation, track their progress, and even get feedback about the eLearning course. In other words, it offers the best of both worlds.
  2. Set expectations and learning objectives up front.
    Before the learner even begins the eLearning course, expectations and learning objectives should be discussed. The syllabus or eLearning course outline should clearly define what's expected of learners, deadlines that must be met, and what skill sets will be developed throughout the eLearning course. This will help to keep the learners on track and also motivate them to become active participants in their own eLearning experience, given that they will have a clear idea of the benefits involved.
  3. Be consistent with email communications and/or updates.
    It's essential to keep the eLearning course up-to-date and to remain consistent with communications. Include communication methods in the eLearning course outline so that learners know how to reach the online facilitator should they run into a problem and set expectations for when they will receive a reply. For example, you can let them know that the online facilitator should respond within a 72-hour time frame or that they prefer to chat via email. Also, ensure that all links are active in your eLearning course and that the information is still relevant. If you come across an issue, send an email to the entire class letting them know that you are aware of the problem and that you have remedied the situation.
  4. Develop an eLearning environment where learners can discuss and interact.
    Blogs are invaluable tools if you are taking an asynchronous learning approach. They give learners a place to address any questions or concerns they may have, and offer online facilitators the ability to interact with learners and share important updates. It may also be wise to have an update page within the LMS itself that learners can visit periodically in order to get regular updates from the online facilitator or answers to questions that may arise. This offers them the support they need without making the instructor feel as though they are tied to the LMS round-the-clock. Most importantly, it's essential that the learners feel comfortable about posting and interacting on the blog or forum. They should feel encouraged to offer their input and opinions, and should be reassured that their thoughts and ideas are valued.
  5. Include resource links within your eLearning course.
    An essential element of an asynchronous learning strategy is reliance upon online resources. You may want to consider placing relevant resource links in the eLearning course itself, so that learners can have access to important sites and articles that will help them to better understand the subject matter. For instance, if you feel that there is a webinar that may be useful in a particular eLearning course, then hyperlink that within the module so that learners can quickly and conveniently find it online. In many respects, this will allow you to create a more immersive and engaging strategy.
  6. Offer interactive elements to make the eLearning course more engaging.
    Including podcasts, videos, and audio presentations can enable you to design asynchronous learning courses that are exciting, engaging, and informative. These tools also appeal to a variety of different learning needs, as opposed to text-based materials. You may also want to consider including games and scenarios to boost interactivity. Design reality-based scenarios and games that allow the learner to see how their newly acquired skill sets or information directly applies to life outside of the virtual classroom. This is not only a great motivational tool, but also a means to improve overall knowledge retention.
  7. Appoint an online facilitator to monitor and guide the eLearning experience.
    Though asynchronous learner is not instructor-led, it may be helpful to appoint an online facilitator who can guide the eLearning experience and offer assistance periodically. It's important to keep in mind, however, that the facilitator should not necessarily be an active participant in the process, but an individual who sparks discussion and encourages learners to interact with the core content and one another. An online facilitator could moderate the online forums ensuring that the discussion remains on topic, and ask the important questions that help to move the discussion along. In essence, an online facilitator should help to keep the eLearning course on track and offer invaluable advice and guidance to those who may need some additional support.

Still undecided whether synchronous or asynchronous learning is the best option for your eLearning course? The Benefits of Synchronous and Asynchronous eLearning article takes a closer look at the benefits of each eLearning type, and explains why a blended learning approach may be the ideal solution.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.