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This year’s challenges opened new roads in the area of training development. On December 8th, 2020, we held our sixth webinar, whose topic was company training online, including different formats and techniques, as well as effective, entertaining e-learning solutions. We explained how to build a course, what visual devices can help strengthen the employees’ understanding of the material, make learning easier for them, and what other perspectives are worth paying attention to in the company system, during online trainings.

Despite the advantages of traditional classroom education, company’s have initiated targeted steps in migrating to online courses — especially in a year like 2020, full of similar challenges. From company introductions to professional trainings, you can provide many different kinds of education modules within your own company system, for which we explored a few effective and easily implemented tips in our webinar.

What are company trainings good for, and why are they important?

In addition to the usual notifications and meetings, these days it’s worthwhile paying attention to uniquely designed company trainings as well. They help employees understand what’s expected of them, as well as providing guidelines on the “how” as well. Company trainings increase productivity, and achievement, and play a big part in employee retainment by providing personal career and growth opportunities.

With this knowledge management, we don’t just support the development of younger colleagues, because older ones also like to learn new things and refresh their professional know-how. In fact, a company has its own, continuously growing knowledge base, which you can document and make accessible in a structured way within the company. Making knowledge transfer of new trends and fresh material a routine thing provides serious competitive advantages.

The classroom versus the web

Company training wasn’t immune to last year’s challenges. The disadvantages and difficulties of classroom education were eliminated – like for example the demand for the group’s physical presence, or time constraints. Paper-based training also presents a “physical” obstacle, not to mention training registration and the administration tasks that that necessitates.

In the course of traditional company trainings, independent development is much more limited, as is progress tracking. In fact, classic solutions like orientation days, team introductions and office tours have all been put on the back burner — though these personal meetings hold significant community building power, and increase employee engagement.

How can company training be moved online, so that employees can get useful and successful new skills, in both an entertaining and effective way, all while keeping the personal touch?

It’s not enough for it to be accessible — one step closer to e-learning

The digitization of training materials alone, eg. downloadable pdfs, doesn’t adequately mine e-learning opportunities. The notes that an educator presents in an interesting, engaging way, is unfortunately far less enjoyable to consume as a few pages of typed material. The reader trying to get through the material quickly loses their interest. The interactions that exist in a classroom, greatly contribute to their effectiveness, guide the audience, and summarize the main takeaways — all of which digital course material alone can’t achieve.

The missing student community is not to be ignored when it comes to online education either. Learning in a group is a social event, where colleagues bond, get to know each other in a new situation, and perhaps increase their commitment. On the other hand, e-learning opens new doors to independent learning. Besides that, time spent on learning is pre-defined, while due to the freer nature of online training they can be more broken up, getting lost in the everyday tasks.

All of these challenges can be overcome, and effective, engaging training can be held online as well.

Microlearning: entertaining and quick learning

The structure of print publications into parts, chapters, subchapters and more demonstrates that bigger, more comprehensive topics are worth learning in smaller parts, with pared down topic areas, which also makes retaining the information easier. A more sophisticated version of this, called microlearning, came into being in order to support online learning and company trainings better. The essence of the method is to distribute the material into tiny, easily digestible information bites, and use these units to build the course structure.

This form of knowledge sharing is shown to be 17% more effective than traditional e-learning material. Materials built with microlearning methods are easily accessible for students, everyone can progress at their own pace, and work with more digestible, modular units. Course elements are repeatable, you can set more focused learning goals, and attention is more easily captured with material that’s broken into 2-3 minute long course materials. At the end of the lessons, students can get instant feedback with fun quizzes and questionnaires.

Microlearning increases engagement with digital learning by 50%, and is also a 50% more budget-friendly way to train colleagues. Course material can easily be edited, changed, and added to, and different sections can be flexibly modified. Building and maintaining a microlearning process is generally three times faster than traditional course material.

How do we learn? A few important points to know before planning a course

The best way to learn is through experience, so it’s worthwhile to provide an opportunity for students to actualize the new material through practice, and life-like situations. Online, this can be achieved with fun, critical problem sets and quizzes. Special problems that test decision making and problem solving can also motivate colleagues taking part in the training.

Paired learning experiences are also worthwhile to hold, though e-learning may seem like a one-person, independent problem. Create an opportunity for students to learn from each other, exchanging experiences and information. We can support this online with virtual student communities, where group members can share problems and corresponding things to know with it.

We also know that people remember stories, so it’s important to connect the material with everyday events as well, explaining them with real stories and situations, activating emotional engagement, and making knowledge transfer more effective in the process. Visual examples, especially videos, are useful visual tools for storytelling and demonstrating examples and events.

What you can’t leave out: feedback

During the learning process, you often have to circle back to what’s already been learned, and engage with the material using various new methods. We can make repetition much easier online, using material that’s been organized into sections that are easily accessible and repeatable.

It’s natural for students to require feedback, which secures them in the knowledge that they’re on the right path, and is important in strengthening their motivation to continue learning. E-learning is perfect for testing knowledge at the end of each lesson with a gamified quiz, providing immediate feedback on the material that needs to be reviewed or practiced more. This way it’s not just the specter of a big exam floating before the students. 

Microlearning in practice

The success of corporate training is made or broken on how engaged and interested employees are in making the material their own. The learning process has to be entertaining, the materials interesting and easily digestible, and the design of the material plays no small part in this. 

Material is more digestible if it’s persuasive, well structured, and visually supports learning. If it makes a positive impression from the first moment, with its appearance and organization alone, it’s no question that students will be more motivated to learn.

Content formats and tips for effective e-learning

  • PPT

PPT continues to be one of the most frequent onboarding and e-learning tools, but few people use it well. By simply displaying text on a slide, we haven’t effectively shared the content, nor supported its consumption. We can achieve huge strides by simply paying better attention to how the content is colored and visualized when creating a ppt. Images and icons help the information be more memorable and visible, and creative, varied appearances help maintain attention.

In addition to pictures, we can also play with typography when editing, as you would with poster design, for example. Different font types, sizes and contrasting colors can help direct attention, and highlight the most important information. If long copy is a necessity in a PPT, section it logically: the things that belong together should be close to each other, which greatly supports understanding and retention.

  • INFOGRAPHICS

This year, graphic illustrated healthcare guidelines were especially popular, as they were easy to follow, made it easy to remember instructions with their help, and not least of all made it easier for our eyes to consume the information than written content.

  • ANIMATION

Motion infographics are otherwise known as animations, which provides a much more comprehensive communication solution. As people, we’d much rather watch little videos rather than static images in the first place, and animated projects are perfect for demonstrating achievements and creating more dynamic summaries. A well structured storyline helps to make the information more understandable and trackable, as we lead the audience through the content. In addition to that, the narration allows us to better explain the visualized, highlighted parts in more detail.

  • LIVE VIDEO

Live videos are great tools for leadership greetings, annual assessments, office tours, introducing rules and policies, and more. Pre-recorded materials save tons of time and money, and makes the information available to colleagues in wide circles. Live videos are more personal, let leaders introduce themselves in their own words, and lets onboarding days or trainings become location, time, and presence independent. Videos can be jazzed up with animated elements, so we can create even more dynamic and creative content.

We hope you got a comprehensive picture of how to start building an online course in your company’s system, armed with effective ideas and tips. Our webinar course will continue next year. Thanks for sticking with us until now, happy holidays, and stay with us in 2021!