3 Classroom Strategies That Work For Corporate eLearning

Using Classroom Strategies To Enhance Corporate eLearning Experiences

This is a scenario that most instructors face in the corporate classroom: Students are physically present in classes, looking directly at them, but it is evident that they are not paying the least bit of attention to the topic. This lack of attention is also clearly illustrated in the review assignments, quizzes, or exams. An instructor can find evidence that students do not understand key concepts that were highlighted as critical to understanding the material. This leads to a sense of failure - a feeling quite dreaded by all instructors. The same is true for eLearning; when learners do not pay attention, it clearly reflects on the assessments and overall lack of improvement in the learner’s performance. An article "Why can’t students just pay attention", throws light on the importance of increasing learner attention. Though classroom strategies and solutions are aligned more towards traditional learning, they can all be suitably tweaked for eLearning to make technology-aided media more effective.

What Does Research Say On The Subject Of "Importance Of Attention"?

There is a lot of modern research on attention in the cognitive psychology literature. To find the detail of ways to enhance attention, it is important to understand what is meant by "attention". Attention, as defined in the cognitive literature, refers to the idea that students have a finite amount of cognitive resources available at any given moment to devote to a particular stimuli from their sensory environment. To that end, students’ attention is constantly shuttling between what they are experiencing externally and internally. However, class is interesting and there is activity, students tend to pay more attention. Students can focus on activities and this also helps them remember the information for later use or application. However, when class isn’t engaging, students will find other things to occupy their attention.

Sometimes, with the advent of available technologies, students often tend to multi-task while in class. Some may try to engage in activities on their laptop, iPad, or phone - activities like checking messages, emails, or other alerts. These may actually be part of their work or study plan, which leads them to believe that the activity is not really distracting. For instance, reading a message on the availability of seats in an upcoming workshop comes directly under the array of "necessary" tasks for the student. But when this task is done within the classroom it is a distraction, and the students thus draw necessary resources away from immersing themselves in the learning content, resulting in poorer performance.

In self-paced eLearning, the fear of such distraction is greater as the learner is solely responsible to take up learning. Distractions, even if they are work-related, will diminish the effect of learning considerably and that is something all eLearning developers worry about.

What Can Be Done?

Although some learning experts believe that the burden of attention rests solely on the student, there are things we can do to help to keep them actively involved in their learning. For students to pay attention in a class, there needs to be sufficient need for that attention to be devoted to the material at hand. That is, we need to engage the students in ways that make it difficult for them to pay attention to anything else.

Classroom Strategies To Use In eLearning 

There are several classroom strategies for engaging students, and many of them have been written about under the umbrella of “effective teaching strategies” and “learner- centered” approaches. Reality is that any strategy that utilizes the following will engage students and involve their attention to the learning material and not to other pursuits:

1. Ask Questions And Invite Responses. 

Questions can be posed not only for assessing learners, but also to provide a suitable break from learning. They provide a much-needed interval and invite the learners to think and do. Different kinds of questions can be asked to foster learner attention, including multiple-choice questions, true or false, or fill in the blanks – all requiring quick thinking and a quick feedback can be provided for all within the e-course. This shortens the "wait-time" that is often when learners get distracted. If the time, when they provide answers and then are given feedback, is less, learners are bound to get charged up and look forward to more.

All questions do not have to be straightforward –bringing variety in questions can also bring variation to the content– which fosters learner attention. Stories and scenarios are the simplest ways to build up a real-life scenario that kindles the learner’s imagination and forces him/her to think in practical terms. There are various ways that a story can be utilized to present questions. A story can be told using different mediums –text, graphics, or audio-visuals– as well as a combination of any or all of the above. For an immersive experience, the learner can be made part of the story and given the authority to make decisions. Steps to reach the decision could be given as options that the learner can "check". Alternatively, an open text field may also be provided, where learners can write their responses. Descriptive feedback supports this type of an interaction, where instead of a simple "correct" or "incorrect", the feedback includes how the response was correct or why it wasn’t.

"Fix-it" stories can be shared to encourage quick and critical thinking among learners. A scenario can be described, where the learner needs to make quick decisions and think on their toes – often what is required out of them in the real world.

Another option is where a story is deliberately left incomplete; it can also provide "food for thought". The premise of the story can be given and the learner can take it forward through single or multiple branching. This type of question builds the decision-making capabilities of learners as the story reaches multiple conclusions as per their choice of actions.

2. Invite Questions To Foster Peer Discussions. 

Don’t do all the asking; give the learners a chance to ask questions as well. To ensure that the learners are suitably excited by the topic, they can be invited to ask a set number of questions on the topic and post it on a social forum. With the help of an online instructor, a healthy discussion can be lead on the top questions, where learners can provide answers to the questions their peers have posed. This supplements self-paced delivery of learning and provides a way for learner to connect beyond the learning content.

3. Invite Student Comment, Feedback, And Response On Learning Content. 

e-Courses can include questionnaires to collect feedback from the learners. A comment section can also be included that provide learners a way to have their say about the kind of learning material they want to see more of. This can be a very effective way to create learning content which is aligned more to the needs of the learners and is focused more on student perspectives.

Final Word

As basic as these seem, these classroom strategies do promote student engagement to a greater level. And with their success it is evident that if we want to create a climate of learning, curiosity, inquiry, and engagement, we need to work with students – taking them along every step of the way.

eBook Release: G-Cube LMS Enterprise
G-Cube LMS Enterprise
G-Cube Enterprise LMS aids organizations to effectively manage and track learning activities. The proprietary LMS supports a new-age UI to provide optimal learner engagement, better knowledge retention, increased ROIs, and business performance.
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