6 Tips To Use Inquiry-Based Learning In Modern Online Training Experiences

6 Tips To Use Inquiry-Based Learning In Modern Online Training Experiences
Summary: Asking questions is the best way to gather information, which is the basis of learning. Can inquiry be effectively applied to modern training, especially in online settings?

How To Use Inquiry-Based Learning In Modern Online Training Experiences

They say curiosity killed the cat, but human beings are quite different from felines. For us, the need to know has driven our greatest discoveries. It has helped us learn new languages, experience other cultures and advance our education levels. In the eLearning space, inquiry-based learning can lead to better resource distribution. With so much educational content available, online learners can get overwhelmed. Worse, they can get inundated with useless information. Using questions as the basis for your online training gets to the heart of the matter. It ensures that your corporate learners can focus on their own areas of interest. Here are 6 tips to use inquiry-based learning in modern online training experiences.

1. Kick Things Off  With A ‘Questionable’ Template

Inquiry-based learning isn’t a training course. Rather, it’s a method of teaching. This means your online training content, course outlines and materials remain the same. What changes is how you deliver this content. Start the session with an open-ended question. Since this is online training, you could have an audio clip with instructions, or guiding text. The introduction should invite trainees to ask a broad-spectrum question about the topic. Offer examples of a good question, then give them a blank slot to type in the question. Top tier templates include ‘What does this online training course mean to me?’ Or ‘Why was I signed up for this online training course?’ Or even ‘Why am I at this computer right now?’

2. Define Broad Categories

The idea behind inquiry-based learning is to open the corporate learners’ minds and get them thinking. It jolts passive trainees and piques the interest of academic types. Remember, your eLearning template should be based on online training content, so it should be broad, but drawn from your course material. Once they’ve typed in their question, tell them you’ll get back to it.

Now offer a question-based summary of the online training course. Avoid technical terms and instead, use everyday language and function-based subject divisions. Good examples include, ‘How can I get better at dealing with customers?’ ‘What can I do to advance in my department?’ ‘What new tools can help me do my job better?’ ‘What’s the next step in my career?’

3. Find Out What Corporate Learners Really Want To Know

Now that you’ve established a framework, you can go from macro to micro. Your inquiry-based approach doesn’t start on the screen. It begins long before, in the planning stage. This means you should build your online training content around these questions. Anticipate learner queries, then use your online training content to develop lessons around them. Emulate a search engine approach to write a list of potential questions. The more the better. Put these questions into an algorithm. When corporate learners are prompted, they type a question. The algorithm will pull out a query that closely resembles theirs, then offer a lesson about it. Their question then becomes a ‘chapter heading’ so to speak.

4. Review What They Have Learned

A clever way to source these questions is through a pre-training survey during the eLearning course development stage. Send it out to relevant industry experts and prospective corporate learners. Run focus groups, as well. Knowing what your corporate learners want before you prepare the online training course gives you a marketing edge. It also offers them better value. After your trainees have gone through an online training module or chapter, prompt them to share what they’ve learned. It could be in the form of a review quiz, or they could summarize their online training course in a brief paragraph. Ask them to close by asking two or three questions. These questions should tell you what they want to learn next. The algorithm will then pull out a similar inquiry from its database and keep it for the trainee’s next session. Tie the questions and online training content together to create an overall framework. This way, whichever order the corporate learners follow in their prompts, they will still cover all the online training content.

5. Use Simulations And Branching Scenarios As Self-Evaluation Tools

The inquiry-based learning model focuses on how well corporate learners can apply their information processing skills, as well as their ability to analyze the situation and arrive at their own conclusions. Simulations and branching scenarios allow them to not only indulge their curiosity without the risk, but to evaluate their own performance and reactions. For example, how they might handle a disgruntled customer or workplace conflict. Instead of focusing on the content itself, these real-world activities enable them to explore the questions or problem firsthand. Which serves as a valuable, open inquiry-based instructional method.

6. Reinforce With Confirmation Case studies

Another form of inquiry-based learning is confirmation inquiry. Which involves working backward from the solution and investigating why the results are correct and tie it to previously learned knowledge. For example, provide employees with a case study that includes the solution. Then ask them to explain why the solution is viable and how they would handle a similar situation in the workplace. This allows them to explore their own behaviors and habits to see if there are any areas for improvement, as well as reinforce the knowledge they’ve already gained by connecting it to new concepts or ideas.

Life trains adults to hide their child-like need to know things. The older they get, the more curiosity is misinterpreted as ignorance and inexperience. However, that questioning spirit still exists in us, even if it’s silent and suppressed. Reactivate it and use it to benefit trainees in online training courses. Build your online training course around questions, developing an algorithm-based cache derived from search engine technology. Trainees type their queries and the online training course matches them to content-based answers. It creates a coherent flow so that whichever pathway or sequence trainees use, they end up learning everything they need.

Would you like to learn more about the inquiry-based learning mode? Read the article Instructional Design Models and Theories: Inquiry-based Learning Model to discover a detailed overview of the principles, history, and forms of inquiry-based instruction.