While the global health challenges are ongoing, the rising numbers of vaccinations are a positive sign. Many of us are looking ahead to a new new normal where we can safely work, play, and learn face-to-face once more.
But while virtual education training became a necessity last year, don’t think it will go away when the R-values drop. As someone who was talking to organizations about their staffing and training needs before and during the pandemic, there is one thing I am confident in: online learning is just getting started.
Typical face-to-face learning tends to lean heavily on individual instructors, relying on their personal organization, understanding of the content, and performance skills to engage learners and communicate effectively. This results in a world of difference from one classroom to another, with quality and content varying from instructor to instructor, and even session to session.
A well-designed online course creates a stable foundation for your content, ensuring it is presented consistently to all learners. The benefits of content writing and instructional design specialists can be extended to everyone and learning objectives are met every time.
In-person training and education is costly and time-consuming to provide. Booking a space, providing supplies, printing materials, travel, on-site prep… the list goes on. While producing an online learning experience does have upfront costs, even a big project that pulls out all the stops and with attractive and engaging interactive media elements will easily pay for itself in a short space of time.
If you've got great ideas, knowledge, or skills to share, the value of your message is ultimately limited by how many people hear it. In-person training and education confines your audience to those who can be at your physical location. By moving it online, your audience becomes global, and it becomes easier than ever to show leadership in your field.
In today's world, there are a million different things in our lives that get between us and the things we want to learn. Many of us are juggling the responsibilities of work, families, our homes, our own physical and mental health, and it is often not reasonable to set aside an entire evening or weekend to attend an in-person seminar.
This need for flexibility, to open up learning opportunities to those who can't easily make it to a particular location or carve out a particular period of time, has been ramping up for decades. After the pandemic, learners will expect more options for accessing high-quality learning experiences online.
These are just a few of the advantages that investment in online training and education can provide, and to be clear: none of this is new. Before COVID-19 was identified in China, when few people ever imagined a viral pandemic would shut down worksites and schools worldwide, forward-thinking organizations were already building eLearning options for their staff, clients, and communities.
We're not just talking yoga or software coding classes, either. Over the spring and summer of 2019, Onlea worked with the Alberta Boiler Safety Association (ABSA) to design and build an online version of their widely-attended seminar on pressure equipment safety legislation. Creating an eLearning experience to help more power engineers, welders, business owners, inspectors, and other energy sector workers protect themselves and others was a challenging, but worthy project.
Of course, there are people who believe their particular content could never be taught as effectively online and those who simply enjoy the in-person experience more. I'm not advocating for the total elimination of all in-person training and education, but the problem of how to create online learning experiences that are just as engaging and effective as those in a classroom is one of design.
By working with an experienced instructional design expert, you might be surprised at what can be accomplished, and how much farther your budget can go with the thoughtful application of technology. If you can teach it, you can teach it online.
It's worth looking into. We're seeing more and more that the demand is there, and organizations are taking advantage of rapid uptake of digital learning literacy of the past year. Don’t be left behind when your learners start looking online for the same training and education you provide in-person.
And if you do invest in eLearning, make sure you take advantage of experienced professionals in this area so you do it right the first time!
The need for high-quality online training and education existed long before the pandemic, Covid just forced the world to see it.