Thinking about online training for you or your team? Here are our top tips for getting the most out of online training.
If you or your employees are working from home, you might be thinking about taking part in online training to make the most of the quieter period. Online training is a great way to learn new skills, but it comes with its own challenges and issues. Studies show that the completion rates for online courses are around 10 to 15% meaning most people never finish what they start. Here are a few ways to help you and your staff get what you want from an online course.
Explain the ‘why’
Make sure employees know why they are doing the course. What are the benefits for them personally and professionally? They are more likely to take the course seriously if it’s not just seen as a time filler.
Right course, right person
Ensure the course content and style is right for the person. People are often enticed by free or cheap courses that appear to offer what they want at first but actually don’t deliver. Sometimes the learning is cheap but there is a hefty fee for a certificate or only part of the learning is included for the price. The course might be an introduction or teaser for a more expensive course, so read all the details carefully before buying. Make sure the key things the person needs to know are covered in detail rather than just being mentioned.
Find out if the delivery style of the course will suit the employee’s learning style. Some online courses are just clicking through and reading pdfs, which will put some people off immediately. Others might require essays or assignments to be completed and not everyone will have the skills to do that unsupported. Other courses are very interactive with virtual group sessions and activities, which, again, might not suit very introverted employees. There are so many different ways online courses can be delivered, so do take the time to find the right one.
Do your research
If you are buying a course in bulk for your staff, smaller training companies may be in a position to offer bulk discounts or may be willing to tailor content or do bespoke virtual sessions to make the material relevant to your workplace or industry. It’s definitely worth shopping around rather than just going with a big name. Ask for recommendations on LinkedIn or through local business groups.
Check the tech
Check all the technical requirements for the course and make sure you and your staff have the knowledge and resources needed to access the course. For example, if you sign up for a graphic design course it might require you to use specialist software that will need to be purchased. Some courses aren’t easily accessible on mobiles and tablets and staff may not have laptops or PCs at home. If staff have IT issues, make sure they know who to contact – is it the course provider or your own technical team? If it’s your own team, make sure to notify them about what people are doing in advance so they can give the right support. As part of this, you may need to ensure employees have the relevant anti-virus and security on their devices and are aware of what information should not be shared outside of the organisation.
Managing your time
Time management is probably the greatest challenge with online learning. Without set learning times and goals, people often struggle with motivation, structure and planning. There are some things that can help.
- Working to a timetable as you would if you were attending a live session can work well. For example, have Tuesday mornings as your ‘class time’ with a backup time planned if something comes up and then schedule separate time for activities and research. Putting this in your diary helps you stay on track.
- Accountability partners is another proven technique. Pair up people who are learning, ideally pair up people doing the same course, but it can be any learning, and ask them to arrange a weekly call where they each set out what they want to have achieved by the next check in. Encourage them to write this down and possibly create a company template to make it feel more official.
Encourage managers to show an interest in what their teams are learning during their regular contact (if they are not furloughed). It will help reinforce the relevance and importance of the training. Perhaps congratulate people on completion via a company wide newsletter.
Don’t take on too much. It’s easy to overestimate what can be accomplished in a given time period. Remember that people have home and family commitments and may also be completing their day to day work in less than ideal circumstances. Make sure outcomes are achievable and realistic and manage expectations. Don’t set yourself or others up to fail.
If you need any support with online learning, please get in touch as we have a large network of trainers and should be able to help you find what you need.