How To Create Engaging Asynchronous Online Training Courses
Giving employees the opportunity to build their professional skill sets and stay up-to-date on the latest policies and procedures on a 24/7 basis offers a vast array of benefits. But how can you design truly effective asynchronous online training experiences without missing out on that all-important motivation factor? In this article, I’ll share some tips for asynchronous online training that can help you develop engaging, exciting and memorable online training courses.
- Make it as interactive as possible.
One of the pitfalls of asynchronous online training experiences is that they may lack the immersion and interactivity that the synchronous approach can offer. This is why it’s essential to integrate as many interactive elements as possible. From branching scenarios and effective eLearning games to videos that grab employees attention and hold it by piquing their interest, the goal is to draw them into the learning process and then keep them there by offering them a sufficient amount of exciting and entertaining interactive activities and learning materials. If employees can interact with the online training course, then they are more likely to actually retain the information they are being offered. Remember that employees don’t necessarily look forward to training events. As such, you will have to give them plenty of opportunities to become active participants by encouraging them to interact and engage with the subject matter.
- Keep it clear, concise, and easily digestible.
Employees who are participating in asynchronous online training aren’t going to have an abundance of time at their disposal. More often than not, they are going to access the online training material when it’s most convenient for them, which means that all of the information will need to be clear, to the point, and bite-sized in order to offer the most benefit. Ideally, online training modules or lessons should not be longer than 15 to 20 minutes. If a subject requires a greater time commitment, then break it down into easily digestible modules, so that your employees can complete it quickly and conveniently when they have the time to do so. Also, in case you plan on making the online training courses more lengthy, allow employees to pick up right where they left off, by enabling a bookmark feature or including a clickable course map.
- Tie everything into real world benefits and applications.
Employees are accessing the online training course for one reason only: to receive real world benefits or to master a skill or process related to their job. Thus, every piece of your online training content, activity, or assessment should tie into real world benefits or applications. They must be able to see the value of what they are expected to learn or else they won’t be able to connect or relate with the asynchronous online training course. Since employees won’t have an on-site trainer to emphasize these benefits, you will need to address them at the beginning of each online training module and then remind them periodically via recaps, assessments or real world examples.
- Use message boards and online groups to spark discussion.
Given that asynchronous online training experiences often lack a collaborative element, you will need to supplement it by encouraging them to use message boards, online discussion groups, blogs and instant messages to interact with their colleagues and address any concerns or questions they might have. By collaborating with other employees virtually, they gain the ability to not only build team work skills, but also to benefit from one another’s experiences and insights. For example, by using Google Apps for education or project management platforms, you can ask them to design a blog that delves into company policies or processes, or to create a scenario based upon on-the-job challenges.
- Incorporate stories and examples that create a connection.
Ultimately, employees need to form a connection to the online training experience. Even though they might not always connect with it on a personal level, they should be able to relate to the subject matter professionally. To do this, it is often beneficial to integrate stories or real world examples that include challenges or situations that they encounter while at work. For example, if you are creating an asynchronous online training experience for customer service associates, you can include a story about a customer service employee who deals with a difficult customer which emphasizes the importance of superior customer care. This allows them to sympathize with the character in the story while learning how to view the situation from the perspective of the customer.
- Give them ample opportunity to assess and recap what they have learned.
Periodic assessments, overviews, summaries and recaps are essential in asynchronous online training courses. You need to be able to gauge their progress and how much knowledge they have actually absorbed and retained, so that you can determine if further action is required to improve their job performance. This will also give you a good indication of whether or not your online training strategy is truly effective or if certain aspects need to be modified to boost employees' comprehension and knowledge retention.
Use these tips to design amazing asynchronous online training experiences. Even employees who may be pressed for time or lack the motivation to become active participants are sure to get the most out of their online training if all of these essential building blocks are in place.
Wondering how to adopt a learner-centered online training approach that gives employees control over their own training and ties into real world benefits? Read the article Top 5 Benefits Of Learner-Centered Online Training where I highlight the many benefits that a learner-centered approach can bring to your online training courses.