eLearning Peril 1: Neglecting the Human Element

Ignoring the Human Element in Learning is a common avoidable mistake.

Properly designed online training will make learners feel as if they are working with a top-notch instructor – and you’ll reap the rewards of an engaged and well-trained team. On the other hand, no matter how professionally prepared or thorough your learning materials are, if they don’t connect with your students, the benefits will be virtually impossible to recognize.

Relying on one learning method – and neglecting the human need for multiple learning styles – is one of the perils of online training.  Pre-recorded online training can’t build a human relationship with the learner, meaning: whatever is learned only through face-to-face interaction is lost in an online interface. A mentor can adapt immediately to the needs of the learner by rephrasing answers to questions or abandoning instructional methods that seem ineffective, using instead the methods that reach the learner more successfully.

So your elearning program must, at the very least, involve the senses a live class participant would be using—sight, hearing, and participatory hands-on work. Making the experience come alive relies on, amongst other things, well-written text that is more than step-by-step instructions, and audio recorded by experts whose expertise and passion for their subject can infect the learners like a live lecture.

What else do you need to address and embrace the human element of online and blended learning?

  • course design that feels natural and welcoming; engaging the user in ways they might not even recognize at the time
  • video demonstrations of step-by-step processes, with a consistent face on them.
  • regular instructors and teachers to build consistency, familiarity and comfort; students feel like they’re coming home to an old friend when they see the familiar face of their instructor, or hear their teacher’s voice.

With all the benefits of putting training online (i.e. greater accessibility, self-pacing, trackability and automation), shifting your reliance entirely to an online learning platform is tempting. Some online training options effectively replace an instructor-led course. They are authorized as such by the software developers and are proven to independently establish the required skills. But if they can be further enhanced by blending with instructor-led training, why wouldn’t you use both?

In 2013, Kineo, a global workplace learning company, in cooperation with The Oxford Group, executive and team coaching organization, surveyed the learning and development teams of approximately 100 companies in a variety of industries.  Responses highlighted that: “…the learning blend led to more effective learning than simply using a single learning method, for example: (comments included) ‘catered for all learning needs,’ ‘online pre-work allowed classroom time to be more constructively utilized… this made classroom time more experiential, reciprocal and active,’ and there were many comments that this led to ‘more engaged learners.’”

You can read the report in full on the Kineo website at http://www.kineo.com/m/0/blended-learning-report-202013.pdf

So what are you doing to incorporate the human element into your eLearning program?