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Moving classroom content online poses challenges for two reasons: new content and dynamic content take time. And, time is money. Dynamic content starts with storytelling. The good news is that storytelling is affordable. Let’s break it down. But first, reflect on your most recent learning.
Reflection: What was your last “A-ha” moment?
We learn socially and through our senses. Think about your most recent in-person learning experience. It was likely at the dining room table, chatting with a friend, getting a tip from a co-worker, or new insights from a recent social-distancing walk. Think of all of the ad-lib moments, questions, pauses, redefining, and body language that facilitated the learning. All of those elements are very difficult to achieve online.
When you teach in a classroom you know in a heartbeat if the learners are lost. You quickly adapt, answer, listen, care. We are social creatures. We have evolved to learn both socially and physically. We take cues from each other.
How do you guard against the loss of live feedback when moving online?
1. Dynamic Content through Storytelling: Make a connection with emotional content
Add relatable, emotional, humorous and even personal case studies, scenarios and anecdotes. All of these are basically stories. We are social creatures and learn best when we make an emotional connection with the content. This helps us transfer concepts into our long-term memory.
Those stories are much more effective when they are supported by photos, graphics and/or videos. We are audiovisual (AV) learners. We have evolved to rely on all of our senses to make judgments. Supporting online content with AV content makes a big difference to the learners ability to remember, recall and apply. But, AV content isn’t cheap. Additionally, people are becoming more and more critical about AV content as society becomes more and more saturated with it.
It takes time to source, curate or create AV. But, the good news is that the stories themselves are easy to find and tell. Once stories (case studies) are paired with content, it’s much easier to target the placement of meaningful audiovisual content. Planning is essential when making dynamic, meaningful and authentic supporting content because time is money.
2. New Content Fills the Gaps: Be realistic about how much is, and is not, there
When moving face-to-face (F2F) content online it is crucial to be realistic about how much of the original classroom content is actually in a Word or PowerPoint document. People often think that they already have all of the content because they have notes. “How hard could this be?” It’s true, it’s not hard. It just takes time and requires learning specialists with experience with technology. Each point on a PPT slide must be changed into actual sentences and each point likely requires 2-3 additional sentences to further explain it. If the old content isn’t sufficiently bridged with new content, then the content has gaps/holes. The learner fills those holes with disappointment and confusion. These feelings are in turn directed towards the organization in the form of, “They don’t care.”
But, you do care. Most often, unfamiliarity in migrating face-to-face content to online content can catch organizations off-guard. Every last detail must be perfect. Online learning can reduce seat-time for the participants but requires a lot of upfront time investments from the organization. These misconceptions and assumptions in first time migration to online learning can result in unrealistic expectations due to insufficient planning.
What do you do if you do care, but you don’t have a lot of money?
- Create a long-term plan and think of your content as living content that will be augmented regularly, strategically and responsively
- Build through stories and authenticity to make the personal connection
- Communicate consistently about updates and be responsive to feedback
Online learning is an important tool in our 21st century society. Good online learning feels good. Bad online learning is a complete chore and can contribute to bad morale. That’s the conundrum – bad elearning hurts everyone, good eLearning takes time, and therefore money. The best way to control costs is to plan realistically.
That’s where we come in!
It is important to get a Learning Environment Needs Analysis from a professional consultant to make a successful shift to online learning. We will analyze your organization, and help develop a plan for how to move forward flexibly and over time.