HR Saskatchewan - Spring/Summer 2016 - (Page 11)

FEATURE Is Distance Learning Meeting Your Training Needs? By Ramona Stillar W hen serious about training as an investment, we must ensure it contributes to our organizational goals and that employees find value in the experience. Not surprisingly, several layers of this type of training emerge for consideration. Relationships Count! Often, online learners are concerned that courses won't be engaging. Therefore, creating opportunity for meaningful contribution and relevant learning will be directly related to course design and the relationships forged therein. How are relationships forged in an online environment? The instructor must create physical presence. Learners feel connected when the instructor speaks directly to them. In an asynchronous environment, this happens via a prebroadcast video message. Yes, you heard it here, when the instructor is a talking head, the learners feel like s/he is speaking directly to them. Eye contact is as necessary as in a personal encounter. Instructors must overcome any trepidation they have about being on camera and talk to learners as if they were sitting directly in front of them. When accompanied by content screencasts or when learners can see body language and facial expressions, they feel even more connected. It is essential that broadcasts are succinct and purposeful otherwise, learners stop listening. A second way to forge relationships is through purposeful chats that are recorded for future reference. The instructor should moderate learnerled chats or "pop-in" to check how things are going anytime learners are responsible for content delivery. The chat is also useful with study or project groups. Learners appreciate opportunities this type of discourse offers as they get to know their course mates. Forums are not valued in the same way. Distaste occurs when forums lack purpose, become predictable, or if comment posts exceed response limits. Learners report that they comply minimally when required to participate and respond. Reasons for doing so include a belief that the instructor doesn't really read the posts since there is usually minimal feedback. Design or Decoration? Amazing instructors and fantastic course design make great courses. Web designer Jeffrey Zeldman says content precedes design and design in the absence of content is decoration. Learners agree! There is significant difference between design and content. Learning Professional Melissa Carter views design as learner-centric whereas content is teacher-centric. She suggests design is focused on what the learners need to know and do. Effective design leads to content that inspires, educates, persuades, informs or entertains learners. Learners identify the following key elements for success: * Organization: The best courses are very structured. The syllabus includes an outline, contact information, expectations, timelines, and assessment information. Learners dislike changes to course content, materials or interaction times once courses begin. This is disengaging and stressful! * Distributive Learning: Learners are very clear that a logical sequence of lessons and tasks, organized by modules are vital. Frustration and ambiguity sets in when these components are missing. * Personalization and Pacing: Sharing ideas, building collaborative content, moderating chats, or presenting projects helps learners to personalize. This discursive process leads to greater application and understanding. Instructors must model intentionally, provide clear guidelines, insist on time limits, and provide equal opportunity for choice. Timely access to materials is critical. Learners want to work at their own pace. Inability to move forward once a lesson is complete leads to scheduling conflicts and anxiety. It is important that instructors carefully examine the benefits and challenges of opening content as they may need to keep content 'locked' in the case of required pre-requisite skills. When not the case, learners want ready access. Content and Learning Materials Learners value relevance and thrive when content is presented thoughtfully. These six elements are key: 1. Learning Outcomes: Lessons must clearly state outcomes for learning at the outset. Guiding questions enable learners to focus attention and time. 2. Learning Materials: Relevance of learning activities is extremely important. Learners seek succinct information sources that relate directly to outcomes. It is important for instructors to edit video and only include materials that assist learners to understand content. Supplementary resources should be included elsewhere. 3. Clarity: Directions should be evident within the course not just in assignments. Learners want to know what will be required prior to beginning. This is especially important if assignments can be completed in any order. Furthermore, assignments need to be easy to access and submit. Building these directly into the course is recommended. 4. Less is more: Learning expert Eric Jensen reminds instructors that learners pay attention to the most salient information. Therefore, instructors must construct lessons so that what is most important is evident. This is accomplished through chunking content, providing advance cueing, and using behaviourally relevant prompts such as badges, opportunity to level-up, or animated images that point to subsequent activity. 5. Timing: Instructors must exercise judiciousness when planning how content is delivered, practiced, and applied so that course outcomes are met in a timely way. Instructors should indicate in the syllabus how much time will be required for the course and how long they Saskatchewan * #HRSKMagazine 11

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of HR Saskatchewan - Spring/Summer 2016

Letter to the Editor
From the Editor
Leadership Styles: Helping or Hindering Engagement?
Building an Accountable and Self-Directed Workforce
Is Distance Learning Meeting Your Training Needs?
Advancing Women in Leadership
Spotlight: Stan Slap – the King of Culture
Saskatchewan HR Trends Report, Spring 2016
Legal Corner: The Use of Contract Workers Can Create Hidden Liabilities for Employers
CHRP Corner
The Resource Room
Advertisers Index

HR Saskatchewan - Spring/Summer 2016