8 Tips To Minimize Transactional Distance In eLearning

8 Tips To Minimize Transactional Distance In eLearning
Summary: Are online learners engaging with your eLearning course? Or is there a noticeable disconnection? In this article, I'll share everything eLearning pros need to know about ways to minimize transactional distance in eLearning.

How To Minimize Transactional Distance In eLearning

Michael Moore [1] first introduced the concept of transactional distance, which applies to both physical and psychological separation between the learner, the content, and the instructor/facilitator. Dialogue, structure, and autonomy are considered to be key components of the transactional distance theory. The transactional distance theory helps the Instructional Designer make decisions about the degree of structure, autonomy and dialog that the eLearning course will provide. Simply stated, based on the transactional distance theory, the less the instructor directly interacts with the online learner, the more learner autonomy should be allowed, and therefore, the more structured the eLearning course should be. Here are 8 tips to help you bridge the divide and overcome the challenges associated with transactional distance.

1. Host Live Events To Fill The Social Gap

Live events, such as webinars or real-time Q&A forums, are more inclusive than asynchronous eLearning activities. Online learners are able to ask questions and voice their opinions for the betterment of themselves and their peers. For example, multiple online learners may have the same concerns and are simply reluctant to share. Webinars also allow you to collect eLearning feedback from your audience. Thus, you're able to improve your eLearning course design and make it even more interactive and engaging. Don't forget to record these live events and add them to your online resource library. They make great microlearning tools that online learners can use for future reference.

2. Create A Communicative Learning Culture

Make online learners feel like they're part of a larger community by fostering a communicative learning culture. Encourage them to stay active in social media groups and online discussions. Invite them to leave comments on the eLearning blog or post valuable resource links. The goal is to emphasize the benefits of lifelong learning and active participation. Thus, online learners are more likely to get involved and take part in the knowledge sharing process. Another great way to cultivate a thriving eLearning culture is to provide supplemental modules and eLearning activities. For example, an optional eLearning course catalog that online learners can use to build skills autonomously or delve into sub-topics and tasks.

3. Find The Perfect Delivery Format For Online Learners' Needs

The structure of the eLearning course must align with the needs, expectations, and goals of your online learners. As such, you have to choose the most appropriate delivery format in order to reduce the distance and create a connection. The nature of the subject matter also plays a pivotal role. For example, an asynchronous eLearning course wherein online learners have little or no contact with their peers or online instructors may contribute to transactional distance. However, introverted online learners might prefer it over live training events. Research your audience and meet with Subject Matter Experts to determine the best approach. You should also consider re-evaluating the delivery format periodically to ensure it still meets your online learners' needs.

4. Provide Self-Paced Online Training Resources

Microlearning online training libraries and "moment of need" repositories give online learners access to online training resources round the clock. Thus, they always have the opportunity to improve their understanding and comprehension of the subject matter. These tools also allow them to explore related topics and skills on their own, which empowers them to take charge of the learning process. Online learners are less likely to feel isolated or alone if they have targeted online training resources on hand to help them overcome challenges.

5. Set Manageable Milestones To Reignite Motivation

Online learners may start to disconnect from the eLearning course when long-term goals are involved. They are putting in all the effort, but not seeing any immediate results. As such, they begin to feel distanced from the eLearning experience. Setting more manageable milestones can help reignite their motivation and get them back in the game. You can also schedule "catch-up" meetings or progress reports after each milestone. That way, online learners are able to get personal praise periodically, which serves as a virtual pat on the back.

6. Offer Regular, Personalized eLearning Feedback

One of the best ways to alleviate the effects of transactional distance is to provide personalized eLearning feedback that helps online learners improve. This eLearning feedback should focus on their individual strengths and areas for improvement. As a result, they are able to develop their talents and bridge performance/skill gaps. eLearning feedback also makes them feel like your organization actually cares about their development. You're taking the time to highlight their accomplishments and offer constructive criticism.

7. Pair Self-Assessments With Resource Recommendations

eLearning assessments are a crucial part of eLearning for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, they give online learners the power to evaluate their own progress and performance. They also allow them to review the key takeaways and summarize the information. Therefore, online learners can increase knowledge retention and comprehension on their own. You should follow up every eLearning assessment with personalized recommendations. For example, links to articles or eLearning activities that may tie into their areas for improvement. This reduces the transactional distance online learners are experiencing and helps them engage with the eLearning content.

8. Create An Mentorship Online Training Program

Certain online learners may feel cut off from the eLearning course, both physically and emotionally. They are not are able to interact with their peers face-to-face, as is the case with on-site training. Thus, you have to think of new ways to encourage online collaboration and peer-based support. In addition to social media groups and online discussions, you might consider a mentorship online training program. Pair more experienced online learners with mentees who will benefit from their skills and knowledge. You can also create mentorship teams that use Project Management platforms to communicate online.

Transactional distance has the power to create emotional, cognitive, and psychological disconnection. However, these 8 tips will help you create an active online learning community that engages online learners on a personal level. Everyone gets the individualized support they need and the opportunity to interact with their peers. Thus, they become emotionally invested in the eLearning experience and get the most benefit from your eLearning course.

Do you want to engage your employees with the online training content? Read the article 7 Steps To Create Meaningful Online Training Experiences to discover the 7 steps involved in creating meaningful online training experiences.


[1] Transactional distance