Principles Of Effective Online Learning

Principles Of Effective Online Learning
Artur Szczybylo /
Summary: These principles of online learning are quintessential to the success of any L&D plan. By applying them effectively, you can take your virtual training program to the next level.

Online Learning Reimagined For The Modern Learner

Understanding the principles of online training is vital to making your L&D schemes effective. The early days of online training, instructional guides, and PowerPoint decks were turned into online, “page-turning” programs. While there is no doubt that some content is purely cognitive and needs to be learned through close study, such programs offered no human interaction and, for the most part, were unengaging.

eBook Release: Lead The Charge With State-Of-The-Art Live Virtual Learning
eBook Release
Lead The Charge With State-Of-The-Art Live Virtual Learning
Download the eBook Lead The Charge With State-Of-The-Art Live Virtual Learning and learn how to apply the principles of online learning.

Collaborative learning empowers individuals to retain the information as well as think for themselves. Quality training equips employees with knowledge and guidance on how to apply the information on the job.

Multiple studies published in the Harvard Business Review, Science, Nature, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have found that students learn best in active, social learning environments. A LinkedIn Survey of 2,000 learners found that more than half of them feel more motivated to learn in a social environment with their colleagues.

The most important job of instructors is to inspire and engage learners. Through the process of asking questions, providing advice, giving context, and explaining specific examples and solutions, an instructor brings learning to life for each individual in a unique, meaningful way. Additional learning occurs in the interactions between learners.

Instruction needs to be built for the context in which it is delivered. This is why listening to lecture recordings and clicking through PowerPoints may expose students to information but does not necessarily ensure that they retain it. Adapting live in-person training to a virtual environment requires the consideration of learners’ needs, as well as the needs of instructors and their organizations.

Basic Principles For Online Learning

Effective online learning requires the ability to design the experience in order to enhance learning outcomes and interaction. To increase effectiveness, live online instruction should incorporate:

  • A common visual experience for all learners
    In a physical classroom or seminar, every learner is looking at the same thing. Variable views in video conferencing tools allow learners to switch the way they view the presenter, the slides, and the participant gallery; they may choose to view chat or not. Creating a common, shared viewing experience is usually not possible. By contrast, enhanced VILT tools enable the host to control what the learner sees—including the display of video, slides, and chat. A common visual experience for all learners minimizes distraction and ensures focus on the content that needs to be retained.
  •  Short bursts of content interspersed with peer interaction
    Online content is best retained when delivered in bursts under 7 minutes long, with an ideal content length of 3 to 5 minutes. Good instructors engage in careful sequence planning to ensure that the content builds on one idea after the next and that the interaction activities are appropriate for the content being delivered. While polls and chats are a starting point, enhanced VILT tools offer a variety of interaction options that the instructor can choose to promote the kind of peer interaction that will spark ideas and promote retention. These include

    • Quizzes and games
    • Focused chats and Q&A for each topic
    • Word-based tools such as fill-in-the-answer, word clouds, sticky notes, and task lists
    • Simplified feedback delivery such as raised hand, agree/disagree, laughter, applause, speed up/slow down, upvotes, and star ratings
    • Instructor controls such as the ability to hide the attendee list, enable anonymous chat, and select learners at random
  • Peer group breakouts
    Small group projects are a hallmark of many live training programs as they enable learners to collaborate and learn from one another. Enhanced VILT tools can offer the same interaction in virtual group rooms, encouraging true collaboration beyond just speech.
  • Motion
    This is one of the most important principles of online learning. The human brain is wired for detecting motion. When people interact with a computer alone, they are constantly making something move. To combat limited attention spans for staring at words on a slide, online presenters need to provide a variety of slides, layouts, videos, and interactive features. Enhanced VILT tools offer a multitude of options to keep the presentation moving and learners’ brains engaged.
  • Accessibility
    Virtual classrooms improve upon accessibility of in-person training thanks to embedded closed captioning, keyboard commands, color controls, enhanced navigational features, and partnerships with screen readers for the visually impaired.


Download the eBook Lead The Charge With State-Of-The-Art Live Virtual Learning and discover how to combine the principles of online learning with cutting-edge technology in order to lead your business to success.