Article: The seven critical components of online learning

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The seven critical components of online learning

Still unsure of how to make the most out of your digital learning? Here are a few steps to help you drive an effective learning program.
The seven critical components of online learning

Online learning has become the go-to mode of learning as a number of companies still find their way back to ‘normal work’. As economies open up and employees return to their workplace, there are new learning habits and expectations that companies have to cater to. One such focus area is designing an effective digital learning roadmap – that’s suited to employees working remotely or from an office location.

There’s a need to design a digital learning roadmap that has the potential to excite the learner as well give them the opportunity to reboot, re-focus and review their progress. In this article, we look  at the steps that Harappa Education offers its learners across a range of courses – including communication excellence, manager excellence, sales excellence and women leadership program. 

The following steps will give you an in-depth understanding of the process of learning that’s most effective for digital learning:

1. Learning needs analysis: Employees embarking on a learning journey need to understand their current level of proficiency. An effective diagnostic introduced at the early stages of the learning path can also help identify individual challenge areas that will be important to the learner. This can help the manager as well as the L&D team to personalize learning resources as well as define the key focus areas.

2. Enable self-paced courses: One of the hallmarks of digital learning and learning on demand resources is that the employee can pace their learning depending on their own speed and preference. In order for a learning delivery to be successful, companies must apply research based frameworks and smart professional techniques that are easy to apply. 

There’s often a series of courses to tackle when working on a skill area. And designing the sequence of courses can help the learner and understand the range of courses that need to be tackled. For example: A course of communication excellence can range from courses on “How to decode others”, “How to listen actively”, “Thinking critically”, “Speaking Effectively”,  “Writing proficiently” etc., Knowing the areas of strength and weakness can help employees pace their course work and align them accordingly.

3. Introduce live masterclasses: This next step in the learning process can help employees overcome any shortcomings in the learning process that self-paced courses entrench. Right from asking questions, learning through practice activities and role plays and get expert opinion. A virtual session with the faculty can help deepen the understanding of the course frameworks, apply learning and receive feedback in real time.  For example: A course of manager effectiveness will need to enable sessions on recognizing and addressing internal obstacles, practice constructive feedback, learn what to do when there are no right answers i.e., being comfortable with ambiguity, and how to move from conflict to collaboration.  The advantage of including live masterclasses as part of the learning roadmap is that it allows the employee to share examples from their own day to day worklife. 

4. Build in tiny habit drills: A weekly behaviour based challenge to develop habits that bring about sustainable and lasting change will exponentially improve the learning effort. Lasting change is often driven through concerted effort and by building daily habits that help the learner break the ‘learning to forget’ cycle, that’s often a challenge area with learning.

5. Periodic check-inks: Another step that can help boost learning by review is to introduce periodic check-inks as part of the learning roadmap. This involves conversations to address queries or to offer suggestions and resolve any issues. These check-ins can enable the learner to reflect back on their own learning trajectory and make necessary amends. Check-ins with the learning instructor/ expert, manager, peer can help the learner gain the confidence to improve.  

6. Create a reference library: Creating a list of reference material related to a skill area can help an employee navigate their learning roadmap in greater depth and with greater success. And this list of resources doesn’t have to be all books. It can include articles, videos, podcasts and any other media that are fun to use and can nurture both interest and curiosity in the reader. 

7. Post- program assessment: Nothing shows progress and value in the learning journey like an improved assessment score. A rigorous post-program assessment is needed to measure workplace impact and demonstrate an actual shift in behaviour. Not only can post-program assessment build the business case for learning, it can also greatly motivate the employee and can help build a growth mindset.

The ideal learning journey starts with an analysis and moves to an orientation session followed by course work and then masterclasses. Companies that want to make most of their learning programs need to ensure that their course is workplace focused, time optimized, personalized and has a pedagogy that’s rooted in research, expert insights and behavioural science.

(This article is curated based on Harappa Education's approach to training managers, sales leaders and women on driving excellence in their job roles.)

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Topics: Talent Management, #RaiseTheBar

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