Connect Without The Coin: 6 Budget-Stretching Tips To Boost Learner Engagement In AND Out Of The Virtual Classroom
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How To Boost Learner Engagement In AND Out Of The Virtual Classroom Without A Huge Budget

One of the reflex reactions you might have when trying to cut costs is to cut your online training program. To eliminate resources, reduce maintenance and stop developing new online training content. However, synchronous and self-paced online training activities can give your employees ongoing support and bridge the gaps. Thereby, stretching your resources even further and making them more productive on-the-job. Are there ways to connect without the coin so that you achieve the desired outcomes? Here are some cost-conscious tips to boost learner engagement in and out of the virtual classroom.

1. Host A Live Q&A

A great supplement to virtual classroom sessions is a follow-up Q&A. Invite online learners to submit their questions ahead of time and then answer them during the live event. This gives you time to ponder the subject matter and invite relevant in-house experts. For example, the sales manager who is well-versed on customer objections and overcoming them with persuasion skills. You can even host the Q&A on social media platforms or forums in lieu of using video conferencing platforms.

2. Include Simulations That Allow Them To Test Real World Application

Simulations let online learners apply their new knowledge and skills in a practical setting, minus the real world risk. Which makes it a great follow-up activity for virtual classroom sessions. They can learn from their mistakes, identify areas for improvement and see how the information translates on-the-job. Many organizations assume that simulations are out of their price range. However, you can use templates to simplify the process and reduce costs. Which can be reused time and again to develop interactive online training resources without going over budget.

3. Incorporate Video Snippets That Show Them Skills In Action

Produce video snippets that demonstrate how learners can use their skills and highlight the purpose behind the training. You can even repurpose existing resources to reduce costs. Or have your online learners contribute their own videos showing how they perform a task or overcome a challenge using their talents. This prompts learners to reflect on their behaviors and actions by watching skills in-action. Another cost-effective way to connect without the coin in the virtual classroom is to incorporate do/don’t videos. Which enables them to mimic favorable behaviors and identify negative habits that hinder their productivity.

4. Invite Learners To Host Their Own Events Based On Their Area Of Expertise

There's a lot of knowledge to go around, you just need to know how to tap into it. One of the most resource-stretching and engaging ways to connect with online learners is to invite them to host. Find out where they excel and welcome them to guest speak at your next live event. Then record it for later viewing. Give them some guidelines so they know what to expect. For example, they need to develop an outline so that they cover all the main points. And they must field questions from their peers at the end. Or provide them with a list of JIT resource links that relate to the subject matter.

5. Launch A User-Generated Online Training Library

User-generated online training libraries don't dig into your training budget and they give online learners the opportunity to reinforce knowledge. For instance, they must create a podcast or video clip that covers a work-related task. This requires them to explore the task in greater detail as well as the skills surrounding it. They need to know it inside-out to teach it to their peers and include all the essentials. An added benefit is that they gather peer-based feedback. Someone might leave a comment or send them a private message to point out a mistake. Or to give them a virtual pat on the back for a job well done.

6. Pair Training Sessions With A Social Media Support Group

Collaboration and knowledge sharing are two of the most powerful budget-stretching tools at your disposal. You can pair live events and virtual classroom sessions with social media support groups, which help online learners glean more from the experience, ask questions and share opinions. For example, they're able to discuss topics that are still unclear or how the subject matter ties into their work duties. Or even talk about what the liked/disliked regarding the event format and guest speaker's ideas so that you can improve future online sessions. These social media groups are great for resource sharing, as well. Learners post links to videos, articles and related activities that help their peers broaden their perspectives.

Bonus Tip: Invest In An LMS With All The Trimmings

As a stakeholder, you may be convinced that investing in an open source or freemium LMS is the way to go. That you simply don't have room in your budget for a robust platform with all your must-have features. However, investing in an LMS that has a fluidic player, certification support, gamification, and all the other trimmings can be more cost-effective. You won't have to find a replacement in the not-too-distant future to meet your evolving needs. Plus, the system will help you boost engagement and participation rates by facilitating anytime, anywhere JIT support.

Connecting with your audience and engaging them on a personal level doesn't have to be costly. These tips can help you convert them into active participants instead of forcing them to sit on the virtual sidelines. Whether you're opting for a blended learning strategy or moving your entire training program online, the key is to incorporate user-generated content, invite them to host and use social media to achieve the desired results.

Invest in an LMS that can help you deploy flexible self-paced training resources and host engaging virtual classroom sessions using a single platform. Adobe Captivate Prime can scale to meet your needs and your budget without settling for fewer features or functions.

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