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Course Continuity Planning: Preparing Your Learners for the Unexpected

By December 22, 2020 No Comments

When building a learning program, it’s important to consider how you can maintain and progress in the face of any disruptions to your traditional training models. This has become even more apparent in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which encouraged many organizations and institutions to evaluate how they could pivot learning to remote environments and solutions that could continue to support learners at a distance.  By now, most organizations have had to move in-person lesson plans to a virtual or hybrid teaching model.  How challenging it is sustaining these environments depends on the bandwidth and expertise of your instructional designers or IT team and how effectively they’re leveraging the tools and solutions in order to maintain course continuity.

Moving classes from in-person to online is more than slideshow presentations, lectures, and a set of pdfs.  Educators have to apply best practices to eLearning, and that includes being prepared for unexpected challenges in the areas of technology, engagement, and learning environment.

Technology

Technology, which is the cornerstone of digital learning, can be one of the more frustrating parts of remote instruction.  Aside from day-to-day challenges such as connectivity issues or difficulty assembling learners synchronously, your Learning Management System (LMS) or eLearning platform requires a handful of backend processes and upkeep in order to function properly and deliver modernized training programs for the long term.  However, the proven value of a flexible and scalable eLearning solution is empowered, engaged, and educated learners who can confidently deliver educational outcomes.

Managing updates, optimizing eLearning design, and troubleshooting technical issues while trying to support learners directly can be extremely stressful for learning managers. Without pre-planned strategies for business continuity, it can be challenging to adjust approaches as needed during times of uncertainty or as your organization shifts and evolves. However, by preparing instructors and learners in advance for the unexpected with a flexible solution they can access anywhere, along with recommended additional LMS support, technology can be a key component in your organization’s success, not a hinderance or opposition to face.

Immediate Support

A few immediate ways to support learners in case of an unexpected technical glitch can include:

  • Use mobile applications to connect with team members and engage learners from anywhere.
  • Let learners know what to do if they cannot connect during a scheduled class session.
  • Utilize asynchronous opportunities for learning and collaboration whenever possible.

Communicating the process before it happens can deflect anxiety-laden emails and texts. If learners have difficulty using the software, where can they go for support? Make a clear distinction between academic help and technical support in order to provide thorough and efficient responses.

One of the best ways to address inevitable technical issues and more effectively support remote learners is to include a separate onboarding element or short training that explains how to use and interact within the system.  Providing learners with the knowledge ahead of time should minimize the distress of a technical problem should it occur. 

Furthermore, finding the right provider for your eLearning solution is another way to minimize technical concerns. By partnering with a reliable LMS solutions provider, you get an extensible IT team to fully manage and support back-end processes and troubleshooting, so your instructors can focus more on directly supporting users. This allows for a more scalable and sustainable learning and training investment.

Engagement 

Engaging students online can be a challenge, but without student interaction and learner engagement, virtual learning is a struggle.  To optimize training programs for digital learning, instructors need to develop diverse teaching methods that keep learners engaged, help them retain the information and understand how to apply what they have been taught.  Intentional course planning that includes the following can prepare students for a more engaging experience: 

  • Immersive content such as augmented or virtual reality
  • A variety of content delivery including video, audio, written text, or gamified lessons
  • Creating challenges, achievements, and friendly competition among learners with badges and leadership boards. 
  • Creating opportunities for collaborative learning and boosted interaction with web conferencingforums, and other interactive approaches to learning. 

Connecting Learners 

One of the larger benefits of remote learning is the flexibility and convenience it provides for learners. However, conducting certain lessons or trainings within your department or collectively as an organization can be engaging and valuable for learners. Whether it is a 45-minute lecture or a 30-minute virtual classroom session, educators should adhere to best practices for synchronous lectures if they want an engaging experience for constituents.  For example,  

  • Encourage learners to use webcams whenever possible. 
  • Use breakout rooms to collaborate in groups during larger company trainings.   
  • Use polls, ask learners questions, and encourage them to ask questions in chat panels.
  • Include written material or downloadable resources with live lectures.

Using these best practices for lecture-based online trainings can go a long way to improving the value of your L&D initiatives.   

In addition to these elements, as you plan learning objectives, maintain clear transitions for course continuity and consistent engagement. This makes it easier for learners to understand the value of remote learning with streamlined, efficient courses.   

Future-Proofing Your LMS

The best way to prepare learners for an online training experience and adapt to any organizational trainings is to build a connected and future-proof learning ecosystem that is intuitive, streamlined and scalable. It means finding a partner who can ensure your LMS is there when you need it.  eThink offers unlimited LMS support for open-source Moodle and Totara. With high-touch, high-quality expertise, eThink assists in every step of the LMS process from implementation to integration, consultation, and daily management.   

eThink offers support for an enterprise-wide LMS platform.  If you’re looking for a more streamlined, organized, and scalable training solution, contact us to see how we can address your eLearning needs. 

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