Whether you have been to an online seminar or webinar, downloaded an app to learn a new language, or used online checklists preparing an important meeting– you have definitely (maybe unknowingly) engaged in E-Learning before. E-Learning is not something new, but its learning possibilities have changed considerably through the years. While it was already considered very advanced to flip through an online document in the early 2000s, the technological developments in the recent years, fueled by the rise in E-Learning popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, have drastically increased our online learning options today.
What is E-learning exactly? The various forms, content types, offers and experiences that exist around E-Learning sometimes make it hard to come up with a practical and precise definition for it. Strictly speaking, E-learning can be any kind of learning material or exercise displayed via the internet on an electronic device. But a successful E-Learning is not quite that simple.
What do we define as ‘success’ in E-Learning?
Often E-Learnings are considered successful if their content is displayed in such a goal-oriented structure that the student is able to understand the intended information and acquire the connected skill. At PINK, we go one step further. We consider E-Learning to be succesful when it not only lets the student acquire a new skill, but also lets him or her implement it in practice to make a valuable impact on his/her business and/or personal life. How can you achieve such an impact with an online learning module?
Spotting (or creating) a successful E-Learning course
Peoples’preferences vary. Some prefer reading, other enjoy watching videos, and some want to learn while they are travelling by playing on an app or listening to a podcast. That makes it hard (and until now, impossible) to determine the one specific content type that should be included in all E-Learning courses. However, there are some general success factors that make up an impactful online learning experience.
- Introducing ‘The Why’: Every good online learning course starts with an introduction that gives an overview of the course content and objectives. An important aspect to cover in the introduction is ‘the why’ of the competence – helping students understand the positive impact of the information and/or skill they are about to learn for their professional and possibly personal life.
- Personal learning goals: Although every person is different, research suggests that we are all more likely to follow our goals if we have written them down ourselves or shared them with others1. So, a good E-Learning course does not just describe the general learning goals of the skill or module, it also invokes intrinsic motivation by asking the students to reflect on their personal goals.
- Theory: short but powerful: Of course, any online learning course includes some theory, which can be shared within for example videos, documents, pure texts, graphs or audios. However, the most popular theory sections all have one thing in common: they are short and stripped down to the essentials. Most students don’t care about every piece of information connected to a topic. They prefer spending their limited time on learning the parts most vital for them and their daily routines – and they want to be able to learn this at any place and any time.
- Interactive knowledge capture: Testing understanding of the most important learning material does not only ensure that students capture and process this new knowledge, but also provides the opportunity to engage them through fun quizzes, reflective questions or games. Correct answers provide the students with a sense of achievement, motivating them to move on to the next topic.
- Make it practical: To ensure that people can actually put the new theory into practice, a good online learning course should provide its students with practical tools, checklists and action tips that are (truly!) useful on the job. You can also ask students to reflect or work on practical examples or cases from their (work) lives.
- Motivation: A successful E-Learning course should be able to stimulate intrinsic motivation to change. This can be done by offering an online environment that is enriched by funny videos, social interaction tasks, competitions, fun on-the-job challenges and other forms of stimulation. The content should be fun and inspirational enough for students to be motivated to continue learning and to successfully implement changes in practice
What do you think?
When you think about your past experiences with online learning, which were the most impactful ones for you? Share them with us here. We are curious to hear your thoughts and insights!