Picture this: It’s a Monday morning. You walk through your office doors, take a turn down the hallway and walk into a large conference room. Today the space is set up classroom-style. You are teaching a mandatory employee training session. As you introduce yourself, flip off the lights and fire up your PowerPoint presentation, you notice some of your employees discreetly checking their email, Facebook and Twitter accounts on their smart phones. A few people are taking notes, and a couple individuals are halfway asleep. How much human interaction is this classroom-based training session producing? Let’s be honest: not much.
Some employers are hesitant to implement online learning (eLearning) because they fear doing so will erode workplace relationships by limiting employees’ interactions. This is an understandable concern. After all, traditional learning affords learners the opportunity to ask instructors questions in-person and have live discussions with their peers. With this perspective in mind, the assumption that face-to-face learning fosters more interaction than online learning makes sense. However, this preconceived notion is incorrect. John Walls of the Houston Business Journal says, “True eLearning provides many, if not more, opportunities for interaction than instructor-led training.”
Why eLearning Facilitates Online and In-person Interactions
Online learning encourages peer-to-peer and trainer-to-trainee communication, both on and offline. Why? Here are a few reasons:
- eLearning can be personalized – Classroom learning is typically designed in a one-size-fits-all fashion. Not so with eLearning. Online learning can be tailored to a student’s specific needs from a course’s start to finish. Personalization of course content may increase a learner’s level of confidence and motivate him or her to discuss questions with peers and administrators.
- Online learning increases employee engagement – When an employee is engaged in an eLearning course, he or she is more likely to pursue in-person and online interactions with coworkers as well as trainers. Social learning promotes learner/employee engagement by making use of the creative, interesting aspects of technology. For example, interactive videos are often used in eLearning courses. The article 10 Ways to Boost Engagement in Compliance eLearning notes, “As with regular video clips, (interactive videos are) able to increase the learner’s emotional engagement. By giving (learners) a choice about what happens next, engagement is further heightened.” Instructors can choose to make participation in online courses mandatory, which also grows trainee engagement.
- Social learning keeps instructors in-the-know about learners – Online learning programs are strategically designed to keep trainers constantly updated on each trainee’s progress, attendance and overall participation in a training course. When an instructor notices that a learner/employee is struggling or failing to meet course requirements, he or she can take initiative to reach out to that person.
- eLearning makes instructors accessible – It is a rare person who has not, at some point in life, been frustrated by an elusive instructor, whether in a college course or a new employee training session. Classroom-based learning programs are usually taught by one person possessing a limited amount of time and resources to devote to interacting with learners. However, eLearning courses usually allow learners to contact multiple instructors with questions. If a question goes unanswered, trainees will typically have the option of requesting a live chat session with an expert. Also, employees participating in an eLearning course are generally encouraged to connect (on and offline) with their fellow learners, further expanding communication.
Business owners who want to host strong, healthy workplace relationships and maximize human connection and interaction should consider implementing a social learning management system that enables online learning. The TOPYX Learning Management System is unique in that it features a no-pay-per-user policy. In other words, whether your company has 100 users or 100,000, the cost of TOPYX remains constant. Review LMSs in the marketplace to experience how the right social learning platform can strengthen your workforce by promoting comprehensive training and relational connection.
Have you deferred implementation of an LMS out of fear that eLearning will break down workplace relationships and isolate employees? If so, today is the day to put that concern to rest. Remember, online learning does not limit human interaction; it facilitates it.