We’ve covered plenty of topics on our blog related to Learning Management Systems and eLearning. However, today, we’d like to zoom in precisely on your LMS end-user: the online learner and what they might need to follow their courses successfully.
Addressing your learner’s needs is a crucial element in an effective online training strategy, and here’s why. Say, for example, you or your Learning & Development team have spent time and energy building an online course for a section of your workforce to follow. You’ve included all the information you’d like them to retain and put to use in their daily work. You disseminate the course online via your LMS and wait for the great results to come flooding in on your dashboard. Except they don’t. Maybe some staff complete the course, but only a few people get a decent score; perhaps it takes an age for some folks even to get halfway through. Possibly otherwise diligent people duck out of engaging with the course at all.
What’s going wrong? Your employees are people you’ve happily hired individually for their talents, and the course contains the correct information, but the two aren’t coming together.
Consider Individual Learning Needs
This scenario is frustrating for everyone, not least for your learners. And it’s likely happening because you didn’t consider the needs of each individual. Remember those ‘individuals’ you hired? You see, the idea behind online training isn’t really to work out who is your most talented employee – who passes all the tests with flying colours – it’s actually about bringing your whole workforce up to speed on the things you need them to know. It’s about building confidence in their abilities and pushing your entire team onward and upward in their skill sets.
Your staff are likely a diverse set of individuals. Looking to their needs regarding learning goals, learning style, and how you can build rapport with them will drastically reduce the demotivating scenario described above.
Customising The eLearning Experience
The beauty of a Learning Management System is that it is endlessly customisable and adaptable, meaning you can tailor courses, modules, units and even microlearning experiences to be an inviting, positive experience for many different types of learners. So, for example, you can make online training challenging and competitive for some, lighthearted and fun for others, so they find learning more attractive while offering options for more self-directed learners to pace their learning journey. So how do you begin to address the needs of all these different types of students? Well, your Learning Management System can help you with that too.
Learning online is a somewhat different experience for the end-user than a traditional classroom, workshop or seminar set up. Because it can be done at any time, in any place, the student is likely learning on their own and won’t always have continual, direct contact with the SME (Subject Matter Expert) or educator who has developed the course. This is where it’s essential to build rapport with students individually. Reaching out to discover more about the set of employees following a course can lead to valuable findings when you want everyone happily engaged with their online training.
Look To Your LMS To Engage With Learners
You can use your Learning Management System to help you build rapport by leveraging some of its functions to see what makes your learners tick. For example, launch a few video intros so that several students at a time can ‘meet’ each other and say a little bit about why they’re on the course and what they hope to get out of it. Engaging learners with each other as well as course leaders is a reliable way to encourage participation. Another route is to perhaps include a quick pop quiz at the beginning of a course to get a little insight into the character of individual students and what different people find interesting. Do they prefer reading or watching movies as a hobby? How do they see their career progressing, and in what direction?
Try and think of questions you can ask that will reveal a little about the nature of the respondent. Importantly, once you’ve received any feedback, you should be looking at contacting each eLearner directly so that they feel heard and supported as they begin their eLearning journey. This is a practical step toward building an excellent online training program: one that should benefit both the learner and your company, too, since you’ll be boosting the chance of upskilling your whole workforce. Plus, an employee who feels heard is more likely to have more positive feelings toward being part of your team.
How Does Rapport Improve eLearning?
Opening lines of communication and asking the right questions will reveal what kind of learning preferences your employees might have. For instance, some individuals find video content far more understandable, while others enjoy text-based games or content. You can discover what topics are likely to attract some staff members, and direct them through modules related to their career goals and also, presented in a way they respond best.
Offer Support With Online Training
Another overlooked area of interest for course admins is finding out whether they have space or support at home to complete their studies remotely. You may need to provide additional resources or one-on-one coaching to help some of them along. This in itself isn’t the ‘extra expense’ it may initially appear to be. Think of it as investment in your people, who will ultimately come through for you in the end in terms of how well they perform their work. Also, loosely related to this, but worth a mention here, is that you may find a few people may prefer to complete their training on their phone in transit (somewhere like a quiet train, for example). If the courses you wish them to follow aren’t compatible with mobile devices, they might struggle to find the time elsewhere. Don’t forget this tech element when considering a support strategy, and critically, don’t forget some workers may be differently-able too.
Discover How Learners React Best
Since online training via LMS is a super popular corporate tool these days, it’s likely you’ll have some employees who have completed e-courses before. How did they do? Was there anything they particularly enjoyed in terms of format? Did they ace one module but fall down on another? Was this situation format related? Additionally, it’s important to think creatively when designing eLearning experiences for a range of individuals.
Social Experiences Aid eLearning
While most staff might be okay with training via software, some might genuinely miss a more tangible experience. Look at ways to recreate workshops, team building and other social experiences in an online LMS setting. Make it as dynamic and fun as you can! There are many tools compatible with Learning Management Systems available to do this, and they’re getting more plentiful by the day. Virtual reality, role-playing tasks and live video discussions for instance, can help convey important unit content to those who feel adrift on their own.
Diversity Of Learners
Once you’ve identified the different streams of online LMS learners and set them on a course path that you think suits them best, it may be tempting just to let them crack on with it. While you don’t want to interrupt their studies, you absolutely should be keeping tabs on how they’re progressing.
Your initial research on who your students are and their types of learning preferences should help you anticipate when you may need to step in and for whom. Reacting quickly to stumbling blocks is a vital part of strong course leadership, and your reactions will need to be different for each learner. Similarly, affirming achievement and praising success is equally important, and there’ll be diversity there too. Some students will like the spotlight on them in front of peers to get strong results – for example, seeing their name on a leaderboard, while others prefer to collect small rewards or accreditation. You can generate certificates, points and badges within an LMS, so tailor praise just as you tailor course modules – you can use automation tools to make some of this administration a breeze!
When developing eLearning courses for diverse workforces, you should be placing the needs of your learners at the forefront. The three essential steps toward a successful training programme are reaching out to discover what learning environments your students are working in, finding out what they ultimately want from their online LMS training, and how they most enjoy learning new things. Actively offering personalised solutions to resolve hiccups, plus personalised and attractive courses and support, is the bulk of the work, with rapid response times being key. Throughout, you want to keep up the communication and present creative ways to help people overcome the bumps – because there will be some – but that’s part of the learning journey too.
Finally, ensure that the reward at the end of a course, or module (and even more frequently than that, if needs be) is the most suitable for each individual. Both company goals and personal achievements can be reached if you consider the importance of your learner’s needs. Identify these from the outset, and your LMS-lead training efforts should come through for everyone.