THREE BIG REASONS WHY ONLINE LEARNING IS NOT GOING AWAY, AND NOR SHOULD IT

If you had known me in 2019 I can assure you I didn’t even know how to get on to a Zoom call. I was the biggest technophobe ever. So, if you are skeptical, afraid, or just down right over online, don’t despair, if I can do this, anyone can. Amazingly I now even consider myself a technophile and fan of online learning, even for personal mastery and leadership – which one would think would be enormously hard, right? To be honest, no, my experience has been the opposite and after 18 months of teaching exclusively online, I recently did a face to face intervention with a team; and have come away thinking more about the benefits of online learning and less about the downside. The upside in fact has become overwhelmingly apparent over the past year and a half. Almost 18 months ago, I switched from teaching delegates in person, to teaching online. The shift was huge, for my business and for me personally. However, I am so grateful for what online learning has taught me.


My primary target market are Human Resources and Learning and Development Professionals because they are often the people who make the decisions about consultants like me. Historically I have had three major problems for you, my clients:

  1. How do delegates sustain what they have learned?

  2. How do clients measure delegates attendance, comprehension, application and engagement?

  3. How do I provide delegates with constant access to my material?

Online learning solves all three of those concerns and provides for you, my client, a return on investment report that is far more than anecdotal.


SUSTAINABILITY

Whether we like to admit it or not, the hybrid workplace is the way of the future, and according to the Remote Work & Compensation Pulse Survey, it was revealed that 44% of employees favoured a hybrid working environment. This hybrid model encourages employees to work from home 2 – 3 days a week, and work from the office for the remainder of the days. This allows for productivity to remain intact, whilst enabling consistent social interaction among employees, both of which appear to be important for productivity. However, increasingly the probability of being able to connect with colleagues face to face on a regular basis is a thing of the past. So what is the workplace going to look like 3 years from now when lots of colleagues won’t ever have met one another in person?


With this is mind durable meta-skills are the skills to focus on for the future. I use the words “durable skills” instead of “soft skills” because that’s what they are – they are transferable skills rather than job-specific. These are skills like self-trust and self-confidence, which are probably more important to have since we have no idea what skills the future of work is actually going to require. Company restructures and the loss of relevance of current jobs mean that training in terms of not only technology and AI, but also durable skills to support employees, is vital. This is so that the company and its employees remain relevant in the ever-changing working environments.


Online learning offering virtual classrooms that delegates can access any time on an ongoing basis means delegates can continue to develop their personal growth and productivity rather than be subject to an overwhelming information dump in classroom style training. This ongoing learning lends itself to sustainable learning.


MEASURABILITY

One of my biggest headaches for nearly two decades has been how I prove to my clients that their spend on training is worth it to the business. Having never really been able to provide for client’s proof for their return on investment in an un-bias, statistical way when I was purely face to face. With online learning one can measure everything from attendance to comprehension to application back in the workplace through un-biased reporting; and what’s most exciting for me as a social scientist who loves data on human behavior, with online learning we can measure not only your delegate participation, but we can also gather value information about your employee culture’s real attitude to the organization. My predictions for the future of learning is that service providers and consultants must be able to measure outcomes and provide their clients with behavioral information about their employee culture. When something is measured accurately and visibly, the learner has physical, statistical proof that they are improving themselves, which can even inspire a change in behavior. Online learning allows for this.


Online learning also allows for learning to be personalised, which results in employees requesting training for themselves because they believe they need it. The role of Human Resource and Learning & Development will change significantly too I think in order to facilitate personalised training & development pathways for employees.


ACCESSIBILITY

In the old world of work, 95% of learning was done face to face. This was costly, logistically difficult and often delegates in provincial offices would miss out. With online learning, money, geography and time are no longer obstacles.


Something I have learned in the past 18 months, is that although online learning is more accessible now, it isn’t always easy to get right. Increased screen time and decreased social interaction means that online learning platforms need to be designed to enhance the learning experience. It must be visual. It must be emotional. It must mimic what we consume willingly on TV and on social media. Online learning has to be convenient and user-friendly and if I were a large corporate I would create a culture that invites online learning rather than one where delegates were forced into learning.


At the Personal Mastery Lab I have adopted a policy where once a delegate in an organisation has signed up for a programme, their access to my virtual classroom for that programme is never taken away as long as they work at that organisation. This allows for the delegate to go in and out of the virtual classroom whenever they want, which not only provides an accelerated learning experience but also an opportunity for learning not to be restricted by a particular time-frame. In a world of fluid time, massive work expectations and fast-pace like we have never felt before, providing flexi-learning opportunities rather than restricted and limited access to learning will become an absolute necessity and something for all organisations to consider through online learning.


If you would like to know more about the benefits of online learning or how you or your organisation can benefit from the Personal Mastery Lab, please be in touch with sam@saffronbaggallay.co.za

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