Online Training: How to keep motivation strong
Learners are increasingly able to find information for themselves, thanks mainly to widespread use of the internet (Google, Wikipedia, etc.). There is a huge body of tutorials, ‘how-to’ videos and discussion forums by line of business experts online, making it quick and easy to find the solution to many work-related problems. So what does an ultra-connected learner stand to gain from the distance or blended training courses offered by their company, which are not as instantaneous or fast as their own search results? And if the learner has to take the training course anyway, how can the trainer get them lastingly engaged in the course when they have to make time for it in their everyday workflow?
To keep learners’ motivation strong, many think the answer is to shorten the average duration of e-learning solutions. The average duration has been cut down to 15 minutes, or even much less in the case of videos, whereas it used to be more like 30 to 45 minutes just a couple of years ago.
Can motivation, which is a decisive success factor for a training course, be maintained from a distance?
Our lifestyles and our fragmented digital practices increase the risk of diluting our motivation for distance learning courses, as shown by the high dropout rate for MOOCs.
The different motivations of the learner are seldom unequivocal: it is more a matter of working out which of the many motivations is the dominant one.
Motivations should always be taken into consideration when designing a training programme, since they underpin the achievement of all of the objectives the learner has set for his training, whether implicit or explicit.
In addition to working out what prompts an individual to train, it is interesting to note that there is often a misunderstanding in companies, which might explain, at least in part, the gap between the course design and the way its users perceive it.
The difference that often exists is between HR departments’ motivations and employees’ motivation when courses are being organised. HR departments often have economic objectives (cut costs, sell more, etc.) while employees are more motivated by a desire for greater personal fulfilment in their work or a desire to increase their value on the job market (vocational objective).
Motivation can’t be forced
The learner has to be involved and made to feel personally responsible. One of the success factors for a course lies in its co-construction by the learner himself. The good news is that e-learning modules, more than any other course format, provide ways to engage the learner and support him through to the end of his training.
Needs targeting can now be refined using the various online evaluation and self-assessment tools. Right from the beginning of their training, the learner can be guided directly to a suitable learning path for his level of competency, with a very clear picture of the benefits he can expect to reap.
Defining learning objectives is made easier by the use of specific online training modules. For example, a video will show a specific movement, the learner can join an online community to tap into other people’s knowledge or obtain explanations, etc.
Answers to specific situations can be provided more rapidly. Tutoring by subject matter experts, either online or in classroom situations, and either synchronous or asynchronous, has become an increasingly common feature in companies’ blended training programmes.
There is greater responsiveness to changes in job fields and knowledge, mainly as a result of intelligence and efficient curatorship of information.
We are finally able to customise training to suit people’s character and psychological make up. The more the formats offered match the learner’s preferred learning channels, the more effective the training will be (one learner might prefer a book, another a series of videos, another articles, yet another quizzes, etc.).
Digital solutions offer enormous possibilities
The notion of customising learning strategies is one of the essential keys to activating learners’ motivation.
This is why training portals are becoming the norm, they offer several different types of training methods, suited to individual learning preferences. Learners are offered a standard training course, but are free to choose to suit their affinities (entry by type of resources), the time available, and the problem they want to address first.
Personal Knowledge Management is a key skill that allows the company to benefit from all of its employees’ individual initiatives.It also lets employees go over and above the training programmes offered by in company training departments.
Learners no longer train out of obligation but because they see the training offered as complementary (and doubtless more reliable) to any courses done outside the company setting.
To reap the benefit of learners’ self-study initiatives, companies need to let out the reins, let learners study where they will, and even accept that they might not follow the course through to the end.