Online Learning: Here to stay?

We recently received the poll results displayed below from CIPD about whether or not we have become over reliant on digital learning experiences, so we thought we would look further into how digital learning is being used in the workplace and how you can get the most out of online learning activities.

image from cipd

What is online learning and what are the benefits?

Online learning/training is pretty self explanatory – it encompasses all learning that is conducted virtually, in an online setting. Some examples of digital learning include online courses, educational videos, interactive simulations, gamification, and virtual reality experiences.

Basically any type of training that employees can do via a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

And that is its main benefit – accessibility. Anyone can partake, anywhere at any time, without having to incur travel or other costs. If software/hardware is required, employers should provide it. Plus when it comes to online assessments, results are often immediate.

What is the alternative to online/digital learning?

In-person learning is carried out face to face. The timing of this training is usually set in stone – specific time and place – not available on demand, so not as flexible as online learning. However, having a teacher available to ask questions and clarify any issues can be a bonus.

What do people prefer when it comes to workplace learning and training?

Back to the poll results. More than half of respondents replied that they thought organisations were somewhat over reliant on technology and a balance needed to be found between digital and in-person learning experiences.

There are several reasons why people may be reluctant to adopt technology in learning, including lack of access to technology or internet, concerns about privacy and security, lack of familiarity with technology, and a preference for traditional learning methods.

Additionally, some people may feel intimidated by the use of technology in learning or may not believe that it enhances the learning experience.

Are we over-reliant on digital learning experiences?

Describing businesses as “over-reliant” on technology is a stark contrast to previous years.

Back in 2020, the CIPD and Accenture’s Learning and Skills at Work Report found that one in five organisations (21%) did not use any technology to support learning activities, with many continuing to rely on classroom-based training. [source]

So we were hardly “over-reliant” three years ago!

SO what has changed?

The Pandemic!

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in digital learning with seven in ten organisations (70%) reporting an increase in use of digital or online solutions over the last year, according to the most recent Learning and Skills at Work report. [source]

The barriers that were stated as hindering technology-adoption cited in the 2020 report – a lack of learning time, limited budgets and lack of management time or support – seem to have all but disappeared.

  • 77% of organisations say they’re successfully using learning technology
  • 69% saying they’re innovating in their use of learning technology.
  • 36% have also increased their investment in learning technology.

Benefits of Technology and Online Learning

Despite the reluctance of some individuals to adopt technology in learning (as demonstrated in the poll), it has several benefits that can significantly enhance the overall learning experience. Here are a few points to consider: Technology can –

  • provide access to a wealth of information and resources that may not be available through traditional learning methods. With the internet, students can access a wide range of educational materials, collaborate with peers from different parts of the world, and interact with experts in their fields of study.
  • make learning more engaging and interactive. For example, gamification of learning activities can make the experience more enjoyable and motivate students to learn. Additionally, virtual and augmented reality technology can create immersive learning experiences that can help students better understand complex concepts.
  • personalize learning based on individual needs and learning preferences. Adaptive learning can be used, which adjusts the difficulty of learning tasks to match the student’s level of understanding. This can help prevent boredom or frustration and make the learning experience more effective.

Overall, while there may be some initial reluctance to adopt technology in learning, the benefits it offers are significant and can greatly enhance the learning experience.

Ways to Get the Most From Online Learning Activities

If you want your employees to get everything they can from their online learning activities, they must choose to be productive.

How they learn can affect their online activities, too, because some people are much more hands-on when it comes to learning something new than others.

But employers/bosses/team leaders can help.

Encourage these strategies to enhance your employee’s online learning experience:

  1. Set goals. Keep your purpose firmly in mind. Remember your main objectives, discuss them with your employees if unsure. Work together to come up with a training plan.
  2. Limit distractions. Focus their attention on their studies when applicable. Keep phones turned off during learning hours. Provide a private room if they struggle to focus in an open office.
  3. Understand their productivity zone. i3 identifies productive environments. This helps get the most out of the working environment so that they can focus and concentrate best.
  4. Avoid giving up when things get tough. Online learning can be just as challenging as classroom learning, and it can be even more difficult for some people. If it matters to you and your business, you should encourage staff continue to pursue it. Work through the obstacles they face and the rewards will be worth it.

    If they start to feel discouraged, remind them of all of the great things that they’ll be able to do with their new knowledge. It can help advance their career or cement their position in the workforce. They may feel more confident and empowered.
  5. Enlist others and share the experience. If they learn online with coworkers, staff have people to talk to about what they’re learning. They can also help each other with any difficult assignments, sympathize about a difficult topic, or cheer each other on when they’re nervous. A support system can help everyone get more from learning online.

Where is online learning heading?

Today, from the comfort of your home and workplace, people can develop their career, stay updated on industry developments, learn a new skill, or enhance other areas of their life.

As digital learning continues to evolve, more and more innovative and engaging technologies are being developed to enhance the learning experience. For example:-

  • Social learning platforms that allow students to collaborate and learn from one another in a digital environment.
  • Adaptive learning software that uses data and algorithms to personalize the learning experience for individual students.
  • Augmented reality tools that bring learning to life by overlaying digital information onto the real world.
  • Mobile learning apps that enable learners to access educational content on-the-go.
  • Artificial intelligence-powered chatbots that provide students with instant feedback and support.

With so many exciting options available, online learning is transforming the way we teach and learn. Whether you’re a student, educator, or lifelong learner, there’s never been a better time to explore the world of digital education.

The possibilities are endless. Begin today to explore the world of online learning. You’ll be glad you did!