Online Learning Programs Succeed or Fail Before They Are Implemented.

[tweetmeme]Experts have opined on the development of the skills necessary to succeed in online learning for years, and although in today’s business environment it is easy to find an online course provider that’s both convenient and accessible; your workers may face significant challenges in developing the skills necessary for this type of learning.   Online training programs targeting adult learners in the workforce have grown dramatically over past few years.  Yet relatively few online learning providers offer what it really takes to have a successful online learning program.

In many recently published studies  and articles most students, when asked, agree that online discussions with fellow students and the instructor are central to the learning experience.  Instructors can encourage students to develop techniques to make the most of online discussions, which may add to a student’s learning experience and promote success in the online course.  The instructor can also encourage students to apply concepts from the online course, or as one student described it, “use it or lose it,” to develop an ability to retain and synthesize course objectives.   Another key for successful online learning is the importance of making a connection with fellow students.   Students who develop a meaningful connection with their co-workers and peers receive and provide support to one another.   The online connections also promote a sense of being a learner among other learners.

Staying motivated in the course is a challenge for students taking stand alone online courses.   It is important to develop a personal motivation strategy to make the online learning experience successful; one that can keep them from losing interest or burning out.   However many students simply do have the skill set necessary to develop this kind of strategy, let alone being able to implement it in a meaningful way.

Students in a recent study published by Educause Quarterly agreed that taking the following practical steps helped them succeed in their online courses:

Tips for Successful Online Learning

  1. Develop a time-management strategy.
  2. Make the most of online discussions.
  3. Use it or lose it.
  4. Make questions useful to your learning.
  5. Stay motivated.
  6. Communicate the instruction techniques that work.
  7. Make connections with fellow students.

Learning Environment

Many companies rush into online learning as a way to save money, and while it is true that on the balance it is less expensive, great care and planning should be taken in order to make sure it is a successful program.

An ideal study environment is just that – ideal.   Some students need absolute silence while others can’t seem to concentrate without noise in the background.   No matter what the preference, a well-lit place that is free from distractions is recommended.   Note that students make much better use of thirty minutes of disruption-free study than an hour’s worth of commotion-filled learning.

Keep your online learning sessions short!  For most learners a one to two hour session is ideal.

Don’t assume that all of your employees have the same level of computer savvy as you do.  Provide required training on course orientation and computer basics; how to log in, what to expect when logging in, basic screen layouts, how to get additional resources, etc.   Make sure everyone knows how to ask for help!

Implementing a great online learning program starts with great planning.  Correctly implementing an online learning program will greatly improve its success and its survival ability during tough economic times, and lead to greater overall satisfaction and increase the learning opportunities for your company.

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