The pandemic has served as a catalyst for online virtual learning to explode, putting the industry on a fast growth path. Now, students, professionals, employees, managers – everyone is embracing the power of online learning. And why not? This learning model helps the instructors reduce costs, expand the reach and speed up learning. It also allows students to keep pace, coverage, simplicity and convenience while learning in a remote environment.

As social distancing and remote-work become new norms, the value of online learning has increased exponentially. In fact, as per a recent LinkedIn report, 57 percent of learning and development professionals expect a jump in spending on online learning. For the third year in a row, over 37 percent of learning and development professionals expect an increase in their budget. However, the same report also notes that the standards for measuring learner engagement are still not established. It points out that not everyone measures the effectiveness and engagement of online learning. As much as 24 percent of learning and development professionals do not currently measure learning engagement.

Instructors and organizations need to address the gaps in the way they’re delivering these online sessions. They need to assess where, how and how much they can enrich these sessions with more engagement.

Can you make online learning more engaging?
The answer is yes. Here are the 6 ways that can help you make online learning more engaging.

  1. Involve the learner: Try to make the sessions as actively engaging, as interactive and as learner-centric as you can. You can use polls, break-out sessions, practical exercises and hands-on projects to let the learner immerse deeply into the course. These are readily available in some good-quality virtual labs.

  2. Personalized attention: Over-the-shoulder instruction methodologies and customization tools offered by some virtual labs are great choices. They can help you be individually centric with some sessions. This will empower you to address unique needs, doubts and learning-paths. This will, hence, create more involvement and engagement.

  3. Cut-out time-wasters: Plan your sessions with an adequate balance of goals, structure and flexibility. The sessions should have a purpose, and the learners should be informed-plus-aligned to that. Make the sessions productive using smart scheduling and time-management tools that some good-quality virtual labs offer.

  4. Self-paced learning: Allow the learners to be in the driving seat for a change. Use hands-on virtual labs and tools to let them have the power to plan and pace their sessions and get the real world practice they need. This will drive engagement. The emergence of cloud-based models also gives simplicity and convenience without adding costs for the learners. That advantage motivates them too.

  5. Application-oriented learning: Every learner should know why and where a lesson will affect his/her life, career, job, mindset, and skills. This should be well laid-out. But the instructors should also use ways to empower learners with ways to experiment, apply, use feedback, relearn and show practical applications of any concept. Any good hand-on virtual lab would be an excellent choice to avail of these features.

  6. Collaboration is key: Use the right mix of both synchronous and asynchronous mediums to use the power of collaboration with the instructor and other learners. You can design projects, assignments and tasks through some really simple ways that some expert virtual labs provide.

Online learning is gaining traction and  it will only continue to grow to meet organizational training needs. The cost-advantage and the application-centricity of these tools are unprecedented. You can amplify these models’ ROI and impact by using some robust features and solutions available in the industry today. Now that everyone can use it, an online model’s actual value lies in how well it is designed, conducted and delivered to the last-mile. If it doesn’t address learner-engagement and instructor flexibility, it will not be a worthwhile change. So invest in useful tools and new thinking through hands-on virtual labs, and earn your unique advantage.

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