Online learning has become increasingly popular in the last decade. Catapulting to unprecedented levels because of the current global health threat brought about by COVID19. However, even with the surge of online learning, a lot of employees and L&D professionals have been burnt before and remain unconvinced of its effectiveness. Historically online training courses haven’t yielded a strong ROI or learner engagement due to poor design and execution. With the workplace skill gaps widening, employee development is more important than ever. How can we design online training for business communication courses (and other in-demand soft skills) that actually gets results?
Here are some key tips for you to consider when designing impactful online learning:
It is all about quality
Many training courses are just designed poorly from the get-go because the goal was simply to get training materials from face-to-face deliveries online, without designing a logical online journey that takes into account the live elements you are missing. Online courses are more than just resources and information made available online.
From a design perspective, online courses should be interactive and highly engaging. They should have content relevant to the employees’ jobs and allow for easy access to support when learners need it. Design the content to be delivered in bite-sized pieces that are easy to digest rather than large slabs of new information. Make sure you build in practical activities that allow them to put the learning into practice and see results fast – instantly engage them when they can see a shift in their capability and ensure learning is embedded and sustained.
Example: Create short, sharp explainer videos for learners and provide an audio-only option so they can podcast it if they prefer.
Respect employees’ time
Compared to classroom-based training – where employees usually take the time out of their work to attend a session – companies often expect staff to complete online training on top of their working hours. Not only is this disrespectful of their time, it adds extra pressure. Incorporate microlearning methods in your training to reduce overwhelm and encourage staff to login during normal business hours.
Example: Allocate ‘study time’ for staff where they can do short 30-minute sprints inside the course during work hours once a week.
Consider follow-up and application of training
When we ask employees to take online training, for example to enhance their communication skills, it should be because we want them to learn and develop new skills rather than simply out of compliance. Not following up on whether they have any issues, what they have learned so far, or whether or not they think the course is helpful in their line of work sends the wrong message – that it was not important. Build in touchpoints for feedback, support and reflection to support staff in their application of the learnings. Without this, learning will slip away fast, making it a waste of both time and investment.
Example: Book multiple follow-up sessions where teams can ask questions and share feedback on their learning experience or encourage them to buddy up and make time to discuss what they have learnt each week with their partner.
Tailor the content to their world
Often to save money or time, companies create ‘cookie-cutter’ online training meant for all staff that is far too broad. When learners aren’t able to see exactly how new information or skills apply directly to their role, they don’t invest in the learning and struggle to retain it. Build online training courses that give job-specific problems, scenarios, or examples they can relate to.
Tailored content could also mean designing courses that take into consideration your employees’ learning styles. You can do this by providing them a choice on how they want to tackle the content, add more interactive activities, and incorporate rewards and recognition for a job well done.
Example: Provide leadership teams with a guide to run an effective meeting in under 15 minutes. Simple, actionable and an attractive offer for time poor executives.
Top tips for impactful online training from our facilitators
“Be multimodal in your design and include a variety of mediums to support a person’s learning. For example, they might also include: Opportunities for discussion in a community thread, provide options for blended learning with group coaching calls and include short dynamic videos in the modules. And importantly, encourage learners to take breaks to digest the information.”
– Alissa Holten, Coach, The Colin James Method®
“We need to adopt online learning design to suit all learning styles. For example, have written components also available as audio excerpts so people can choose to listen or read. Include more gamified content to make it fun, such as using points, rewards and animations upon completion of sections to deepen engagement and encourage use.”
– Alison Carter, Facilitator & Coach, The Colin James Method®
How can online learning curb common challenges in business communication?
Here are some common communication challenges organisations face:
- Unclear organisational strategies
- Uninspiring leadership communication
- Poor team collaboration and use of meeting time
- Ineffective communication with staff who are working remotely
When designed well, online learning offers countless solutions to these challenges. All it takes is to engage staff and leaders in high-quality online training that provides practical frameworks, examples, exercises and ongoing support to build new skills and apply them in the workplace.
Online learning is the solution to build talent skills and competencies. When designed well, it is flexible, accessible and scalable. It encourages employees to take responsibility for their learning. Learning that is infused with your company culture, and visible in its design, programs, platforms, and employees’ enthusiasm – which will help push you toward success.
Here at The Colin James Method® we’ve been through this process having learnt the hard way that modules with videos and text explainers don’t result in change. Now we use our state of the art learning management platform to combine training videos, audio clips, text, quizzes, exercises and tasks to craft custom journeys for our corporate clients like Intel, AustralianPost and SAP. Take your organisation to new heights! Invest in a well-designed online business communication skill training, today.
The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their professional communication skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.