How to get started with digital learning in your businessPublished: 28th September 2021
By: Lasse Hamre
There are many opinions about the pandemic, but one thing can’t be denied: it did not come at the worst possible time. Technology only recently reached a point that allows many of us to continue our work and school from home. The opportunity to meet digitally has been vital. Zoom school and Teams meetings are two concepts that have become part of our new reality. Technology has greatly modernised the way we think about learning. This article is about how to use this new mindset to further develop high quality digital training offerings.
The pandemic forced many companies to switch to digital learning almost overnight. This sudden shift saw companies’ overall digital competence jump light years ahead of pre-pandemic levels. Both course providers and course participants have made huge strides with their comfort using these tools. This competence is a strong foundation on which to develop a refined digital course offering.
My recommendation is to start with the digital tools you have become accustomed to using. Moving the physical classroom to a digital meeting room can be considered digital training level 1. It is incredible to think that a course offered at level 1 today is much more refined than it would have been just a few years ago. As the company develops its digital pedagogical competence, there may eventually be a need to develop a course offering at levels 2 and 3.
Level 1: The engaging digital classroom
Level 1 online pedagogy is similar to traditional classroom teaching or training in meeting rooms. The main difference is simply that we have removed the physical space. Instead, people participate via video conference from the place wherever they are.
The most common pitfall for trainers is that they don’t activate the participants to any great extent. Learning is an activity and you should always plan for it.
Make use of the features your video conferencing system offers. Ask questions and ask for answers in the chat, give group assignments and distribute the participants in group rooms and/or hold polls. You can also use digital sharing tools. There are countless options here, many of which come in free versions for limited use. A few worth mentioning: Mentimeter for polls, contests, word clouds and more. Miro for collaborative tasks. Wonder.me for dialogues in small and large groups. Test a few of these and see if they could fit your project, and engage your participants.
Level 2: Interactive e-learning courses
While online pedagogy at level 1 requires synchronous participation (everyone participates at the same time), online pedagogy at level 2 opens up for asynchronous participation. In addition to taking the course wherever they want, the participants can take the course whenever they want. The easiest starting point is to record a video conference and then make it available online. Unfortunately, this means you won’t be able to use chat, group rooms and polls when the recorded video meeting is viewed. To create interactivity, you could instead choose to develop e-learning courses.
There are a number of tools for developing e-learning. I recommend you choose an authoring tool that produces Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) files. SCORM is an international standard that allows you to share data from an e-learning course to an LMS (Learning Management System). You will learn more about that later in the article. Working with SCORM means you’re better equipped if you choose to raise your company’s digital course offerings to level 3.
Using an authoring tool allows you to combine text, image and video with engaging learning activities like problem solving, exploration or sharing, depending on what is possible with the authoring tool. If I were to give you one tip, it would be to enable a high degree of interactivity in your course, and make sure that you alternate between deductive and inductive pedagogy. Too many only offer deductive pedagogy, meaning they first present the subject content and then give assignments to check that the participant has understood and learned. This method is unfortunately demotivating in the long run. Be sure to also include inductive pedagogy, which involves asking the participants things like “what would you do in this situation?” Afterwards, summarise with the recommended solution and intended learnings. Inductive pedagogy is often more motivating.
Level 3: Systematic competence development of the entire organisation
To implement digital learning in a system, you need an LMS, a Learning Management System. Using the LMS, the company can manage training activities and offer courses that contribute to the growth and development of the business. An LMS keeps track of the course participants, which is often everyone who works in the company. Therefore, it is smart to choose an LMS that can be integrated with the company’s personnel system.
In the LMS, participants get access to the course offerings. For example, there may be e-learning courses that you have developed yourself or that you have purchased from other suppliers. Here you can also store recordings of video conferences and other professional content in a variety of formats, including PowerPoint, PDFs or video files.
When a participant completes an e-learning course based on the SCORM standard, the LMS will be able to register whether the participant has completed the course and possibly passed a certification test. In this way, you maintain an overview of the general competence within the company.
My recommendation is to choose an LMS that pushes out the learning content using the channels the participant already uses. You will be able to send a course invitation by e-mail and the participant can start the course by clicking on the link. In the same way, you will be able to push content to smartphones and participants can take the course while on the go.
It takes time to build up expertise in digital competence. Define roles and tasks and make a plan for how to cultivate your learning culture. Culture and infrastructure for online learning will together become an important force towards reaching future goals.