Company management may tend to focus on the hard facts when it comes to implementing virtual employee training programs. Such systems tend to be less expensive than traditional courses, and offer workers the flexibility to learn at their own pace and the convenience of being able to access materials from a broad range of locations.
While these benefits may seem to promote individualism in learning, virtual programs also offer the ability for management to enhance the corporate community. Here are a few ways that online learning can be as inclusive as it is independently convenient:
Create Virtual Teams
One of the main reasons that online learning can take a solitary turn is the fact that working on their own schedules often means employees are working alone. Faced with this dilemma, Regina Herzlinger, a professor at the Harvard Business School, came up with a variety of methods that encouraged—or required—team building. As the leader of an online course, she utilized a system that calculated which program participants had similar skill levels, and paired them together for partner or group tasks. Herzlinger said the technique worked because it made individuals accountable, not only for their own participation, but that of their collaborators as well.
“When students are on teams, they become much more committed to both each other and the class,” she told Bloomberg Businessweek.
Managers do not need a complicated algorithm, however, to achieve this same goal. Because virtual learning provides concise data about individual participant progress, it’s simple enough to allow employees to work through a few sessions before determining which pairings would best match individual skill levels. Then assign joint or group tasks which encourage team building and collaboration.
Encourage Forum-Based Feedback
Although workers may be progressing individually or in smaller groups, there should be a space in which they can all communicate any issues, concerns, or comments they have along the way. Create a forum where employees can start conversation topics and respond to those begun by their fellow workers. Encourage staff to engage with one another by submitting questions as well as answers to peers’ queries. If employees seem hesitant about participating, it may be useful to set up weekly virtual reminders or even host in-person forums that they can attend and during which they can offer feedback.