Modern learning is a social and collaborative process of knowledge building where a learner interacts with the content and the instructor as well as with peers. Thus educational interactions within an organization can be of three types:
- Learner-to-Content interactions
- Learner-to-Instructor interactions
- Learner-to-Learner interactions
For asynchronous learning delivery, where instructor and peers are absent, the Learner-to-Content interactions are of the utmost importance. Such deliveries are often ‘just-in-time’ to meet immediate or urgent learning needs and ‘just-for me’ for personalized learning. In the absence of direct human interaction, interactivity in learning design can create the much needed avenues of learner engagement. Here are some means of achieving this interactivity:
Hyperlinks to various resources can be included in the reading material so that the learner can gain detailed knowledge or descriptions. For instance, hyperlinks can take the learner to key words in the glossary section of the course, if he does not understand the meaning of the terms. Similarly, hyperlinks to external links or websites can also provide the learner an opportunity to delve into the details of the topic of the course.
To embed human touch in e-courses, podcasts can be included to make a strong learning delivery. Audio as a medium can be well accessed through all user devices – desktops, smartphones or tablets. This increases the reach of the delivery, making podcasts perfect for just-in-time learning delivery – especially if the learner is frequently out of office. There is no need to look into the screen and the learner can just plug in his earphones and learn instantly. Easy to create as well as disseminate, short capsules of learning can increase the appeal of an e-course by leaps and bounds.
Similarly, short videos can be included to provide an opportunity to learn instantly. In addition to the textual content of the e-course, videos can be created to encapsulate the main points – providing short refreshers for the learner that can be accessed as and when required. Instead of shooting a video with real-life characters or settings, animations and graphics can be used to decrease the cost of production of videos.
Learners often take notes in a classroom, which they later recapitulate for greater knowledge assimilation. Taking cues from this, e-courses can be linked to Personal Wikis that can be accessed by the learner as he or she proceeds through the course. At the end of the course, the instructor can take a look at the notes and give suggestions or comments to create better learning.
Additional reading material can also be included in e-courses to provide the opportunity for learners to increase knowledge – as and when required. The downloadable resources also create an opportunity of offline learning – which is quite a boon for learners who have sporadic internet connectivity. Using this strategy, we created a sales training course for a leading direct sales company. While the course provided knowledge necessary to sell a range of products, the downloadable resources provided the learners the necessary tools to sell the products well. Even after finishing the course, the sales personnel required frequent refreshers which the resources provided. They could also take printouts and share with the prospective clients to make a stronger pitch. The downloadable resources became one of the most popular features of the course – utilized by all learners.
Though not strictly part of asynchronous learning, polls can be included within the e-course for learners to discuss relevant topics and get the general views that other learners have. To maintain the learning pace, the poll can be included at the end of a module – inviting opinions based on the information shared in the module. Since the learning is fresh in the mind of the learner, the reactions will be a true reflection of how the learner relates to the topic. The results of the poll can be shared with learners – in real time or later. The results can be also used to initiate debates and discussions on other platforms such as classrooms or discussion forums.
Finally, assessments keep the learners on their toes and make sure they go through the content well. They ensure course completion – often a major factor when measuring the impact of an e-course. A range of assessments can be created – from multiple-choice questions to true/false or interactive drag-and-drop exercises. Scoring and certificates at the end of the assessments can give the necessary push that learners often require, by creating a competitive environment.
The common grouse against asynchronous learning – that it lacks learner engagement – can be mitigated by making suitable allowances in the learning design. We have listed only a handful of them – there are many more that can be utilized keeping in mind the learning objectives and learner needs as well as the available technologies for learning development and delivery. Do you want to learn more about how you can make your e-learning initiative more interactive? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or fill the form below and we will be happy to help!