Going Digital: How to Move from Instructor-Led Courses to Online Distance Learning

By March 23, 2020 No Comments

Times are changing and digital learning and remote work is becoming increasingly more common as organizations and institutions shift their policies to accommodate the convenience, wellbeing, and safety of their learners and teams.  Every sector of education has been touched by the advances in online learning and in the face of COVID-19, now more than ever it’s arguable that no sector in general can thrive long-term without incorporating some form of distance learning and/or remote work.

Why Digitize Your Training Programs and Encourage Distance Learning?

Virtually every area of our life, from activities like filing taxes to applying for a job to even purchasing a car, is becoming streamlined through technology and education is no exception. The modern learner wants accessible, engaging, and dynamic learning that allows them to efficiently complete coursework, easily access resources where and when it’s convenient for them, and better retain important information long-term. This can be encouraged through the flexibility of  distance learning.

Further, in the event of an emergency where office or university locations are closed or restricting access, distance learning minimizes any disruptions in terms of productivity and provides continuous access to necessary resources. This allows learners to complete coursework, stay connected, and make valuable use of offsite time without any hitches. It is a good idea for every business to incorporate a Learning Management System (LMS), or a platform that can support distance learning, to their business continuity plans.

Some additional benefits of online distance learning over instructor-led courses or onsite training and education include…

  • Cost-Efficient. In most instances, a digital learning platform such as an LMS, can provide learning at a significantly lower cost than instructor-led courses and onsite trainings. More specifically, with usually no licensing fees necessary in order to run the product, an open-source LMS can provide a flexible, configurable, and interoperable solution at little to no cost at all that can support multiple styles of formal and informal learning.
  • Increased Productivity. Distance learning allows learners to take courses or review resources on their own time, preventing the need to steal work hours or days away for an ILT (Instructor-Led Training). This allows employees to perform daily duties as usual and get in some training during off-hours.
  • Minimizes Risk. Distance learning can be incredibly useful in emergency situations or when remote work makes the most sense. With a digital training program in place, L&D admins can give learners permissions to complete coursework without the need to commute through traffic or put others at risk during a health crisis, for example. Additionally, a digital platform can help keep people connected and informed.
  • Revolutionizes the L&D process. The typical lecture-then-exam approach to learning is quickly becoming outdated and often proven ineffective long-term. Innovations in eLearning technology allow you to transform the digital learning experience by including unique tools and solutions tailored to the needs of your industry. This includes but is not limited to: mobile learning, virtual learning environments, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, gamification, and much more. By providing your organization with the capability to easily adapt to meet changing needs, digital learning also allows you to “future-proof” your training programs.

While recreating the experience of in-person classroom sessions in a digital environment can be challenging, it’s certainly not impossible. If the shift from instructor-led courses to distance learning has your team feeling overwhelmed, these tips will help the transition go as smoothly as possible for your development team, your instructors, and your learners.

How to Move to Online Distance Learning

1. Design your digital learning ecosystem.

The first step to moving your in-person training and courses online is designing your learning ecosystem. This encompasses all the tools and solutions used to deliver, manage, and track your learning programs, such as the LMS, HR solutions, curated content, and tools for social connectivity, reporting, or other needs. Evaluate your educational needs and determine which elements you plan to incorporate or integrate in order to deliver streamlined, organized, and dynamic learning.

2. Leverage the best tools and solutions.

An engaging and dynamic experience is crucial for effective online distance learning. When selecting which tools and solutions you’ll be incorporating into your learning ecosystem, it’s important to consider various forms of eLearning content to help diversify lessons and encourage information retention. This can include micro content in the form of short video clips or gamified activities and lessons, forums for collaboration among learners, and both self-regulated learning and virtual classrooms.

3. Prioritize your lessons.

It can be hard to pack detailed instructor-led lessons into an online environment. You can’t simply post the slide deck from a 3-hour lecture or replicate certain activities and learning objectives from an onsite course.

When circumstances change and in-person courses move to an online environment, it’s important to prioritize the most important information and key takeaways in your lessons to avoid overwhelming learners. This allows them to more easily digest the information in a more self-sufficient digital space. Provide them with as much information to peruse as possible but lay the foundation for what’s crucial to know for increased efficiency.

4. Train your instructors.

Although online learning has been around for years, there are still plenty of instructors who have yet to teach in this format. It’s imperative your instructors have a clear understanding for how to manage and leverage eLearning in order to educate modern learners. In the event that your team needs to quickly shift to online distance learning, instructors still need to teach and communicate effectively, encourage collaboration where applicable, and report on the success and engagement of specific teaching methods or approaches to certain topics. Ensure your instructors know how to use the technologies within your institution or organization for a seamless transition to digital learning.

5. Support your IT team.

More than learners and teachers, the shift to online distance learning impacts the instructional designers and eLearning developers within your organization the heaviest. The pedagogical experts on your team will likely have their hands incredibly full with importing learner information, uploading course materials, and helping instructors leverage the functionality and flexibility of a digital platform.

Not only is it important to encourage these members of your team during this often-stressful transition process, but with additional hosting support through an LMS provider, you can significantly ease the burden off their shoulders. A fully-managed eLearning solutions provider like eThink can handle all aspects of the LMS including implementation, AWS cloud hosting, management, customization, and support, allowing your IT team to focus more on supporting the user experience for various types of learners and less on the back-end maintenance of the system.

Moving from instructor-led courses to online distance learning can be a challenging project; however, digitizing your efforts can help create more accessible, engaging, and cost-effective educational experiences for learners. And, incorporating digital learning into your education strategy allows you to future-proof your learning programs and easily adapt to make necessary changes as needed. The latest advancements in eLearning technology allow you to incorporate multiple styles of learning while tracking the success and engagement of each approach you take. For additional resources on remote L&D and online distance learning, check out these resources below:

For more information or to speak with an expert at eThink about digitizing your training or education programs, contact us or request an individual demonstration below.

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By March 23, 2020