As the number of remote workers continues to rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting adjustments to the way people work, learning and development professionals have been tasked with shifting their traditional instructor-led and facilitated training to online or virtual delivery platforms. And they have been challenged to do so without compromising the learning experience. Virtual classrooms, online training, and blended solutions help to overcome this challenge, but how does this all work when the skills require a more hands-on approach to train?
To help with growing knowledge in online and virtual environments, we must design and develop learning experiences that not only engage and motivate learners, but also simulate the application of new skills and reinforce behaviors. Here are a few basic tips for delivering engaging and effective training to your remote workforce to help simulate (and stimulate) skill building. To capture your learners’ attention in an online/virtual environment:
Let them drive. Do this by personalizing the experience and allow learners to “test drive” the new skill. Design a user interface that gives them some control over their learning journey and lets them adjust their path and pace. Allow for pre- and post-checks and practice activities so learners can self-gauge their progress. Add flexibility to the navigation so they can explore, review, reinforce, and grow their knowledge.
Let them experience a compelling story. There is no better way to effectively convey information than to tell a story. But in order to truly engage the learner, it must be a compelling story, and one that is relatable. In fact, let the learner be part of the story by making decisions and exploring the outcomes. Regardless of the skill being taught, there is always a compelling story to be shared with a teachable moment. All it takes is a little creativity and a solid story arc.
Let them have fun and learn from mistakes. Create activities so learners can apply knowledge in fun, challenging, and secure ways. Convert your traditional quizzes to scenarios with specific outcomes and feedback based on decisions. Incorporate scoring and rewards to increase motivation. Let learners repeat activities to improve scores or advance in the training. The repetition grows knowledge!
Let them apply what they learned. Key takeaways and new skills should be immediately applicable and available to learners when they are on the job or in context for certain situations. Demonstrate the benefit and value of applying those lessons. Make them memorable and accessible. Create tools to aid with recall of steps in a procedure or create job aids and reference guides for tasks that are not performed daily. Implement tools that can be used repeatedly, set performance metrics, monitor the outcomes, and recalibrate when needed … and continuously improve to grow knowledge.