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Five tips for keeping learners connected and engaged across the virtual void

The past year has been extraordinarily challenging for organizations that relied on face-to-face on-the-job training. No amount of Zoom meetings can adequately replicate the hands-on experience required to train someone working on a factory floor or the direct read a manager can get during in-person training.

Yet this is our new normal. Even if things return to the way they were, it will likely be a different representation of what used to be natural. Some people will go back to their workplaces. Others will remain remote.

But, some things stay the same. Everyone needs to feel connected. Everyone needs to stay engaged.

How do you do that in this environment? How do you replicate traditional in-person guidance and on-the-job training while keeping people engaged across the virtual void?

Let’s take a look at five strategies you can use to answer these questions.

Bring on-the-job training to remote workers

Nothing will ever exactly replicate an in-person on-the-job training experience, but the right software solution can help close that gap significantly. With the right eLearning platform, you can successfully host on-the-job training events in real-time, replete with live feedback and instruction. Video allows for visual demonstrations and walk-throughs, effectively showing and telling remote learners what they would otherwise experience first-hand in a more traditional setting.

You can also set up ongoing courses consisting of a series of shorter lessons tailored to a virtual environment conducive for microlearning. Feedback can be given both during or after the training.

Issue regular task assignments and quizzes

Like many of us have seen with our children in virtual school, it’s important to establish a regular cadence of tasks or assignments and quizzes. Periodic assessments keep learners engaged and provide you with valuable metrics to gauge how well your learners understand the concepts they have studied.

Assignments also provide great opportunities for teachable moments. If someone is struggling, you’ll know it, and can reach out to them directly to help. Meanwhile, learners can use virtual discussion boards to ask their peers questions as they work their way through their tasks. That promotes group learning and knowledge sharing across the virtual divide.

Establish consistent touchpoints

These could take many forms—a quick discussion to go over an assignment, for example, or a one-on-one mentoring meeting after a couple of classes have been completed. The idea is to continually check in to see how things are going and to allow the learner to ask questions, receive feedback and clarification, and overall simply feel engaged.

It’s important to stay connected. You may need a prompt or two to remind you to initiate these sessions. Consider setting up automated reports about assignments, assessment scores, and other data points, and have them emailed to you on a consistent basis. Use the delivery of a report as a reminder that it’s time to check in with your learners.

Use surveys to give learners a voice and improve your programs

It can be difficult to know how employees feel when everyone’s so separated, but simple and short surveys can help employees feel valued and give you information you can use to improve their learning experiences. The things you can discover can be both endless and surprising. Is your UI easy to navigate and use? Is the training content informative and engaging? Is it easy for learners to sign up for the courses they’re interested in?

Try to stay away from overloading learners with long lists of questions or a constant barrage of surveys, but do solicit their feedback on a regular basis—after a course has been completed, for example. Give them the opportunity to share their experience and perspectives with you, and use their recommendations and comments for future improvements.

Track and report your results

All of the aforementioned steps can provide you with valuable data points and insights you can use to inform and improve your virtual training programs. Test scores, learner feedback, questions, and more should all be compiled into a centralized reporting engine to give you complete visibility into those programs and their efficacy.

Over time, you can track these data points and use that knowledge to make adjustments to course content, UI settings, course offerings, and more. Even seemingly little adjustments can keep learners informed and engaged and help them succeed.

That’s not always easy in the best of times, and the sea change we’ve all experienced over the past year has made it even more challenging. Don’t try to manage it alone. Let Inquisiq help.

Shannon An article originally posted on Linkedin by Shannon Engel

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