Why You Should Use A Learner-Centered Online Training Approach
By adopting a learner-centered online training approach that gives employees control over their own training and ties into real world benefits you can create an unparalleled online training course for them. If you're still on the fence about whether this approach is right for your online training deliverable, here are the basics and benefits of a learner-centered design.
The basics of learner-centered training
In a learner-centered training environment, employees are in control of their own online training experience. All of the online training activities and materials are designed to cater to a wide range of learning needs. As such, each employee has the opportunity to take an active role in the training process and the eLearning professionals are merely there to offer assistance or guidance when needed.
According to David Jonassen, a leading proponent of learner-centered instructional design, there are four key attributes (or the 4 C's) of a learner-centered training course:
All of the learning activities included in a learner-centered strategy must be relatable and relevant for the learner. It must be tied to a real world context and enable the learner to connect with the subject matter on some level.
Learners must be able to tie the subject matter to real life situations or problems they have faced (or are currently trying to solve). They must also be able to use past experiences or already acquired knowledge to use when absorbing new information.
Learners are given the chance to use their own thoughts and opinions to solve problems while collaborating with their peers and sharing insights. At the completion of each collaboration exercise, the learners will be able to come to their own conclusion and tie the experience into their own real life challenges or situations.
Taking part in conversations with their peers, or even engaging in an inner dialogue with themselves, give learners the opportunity to absorb new information more effectively and gain an in depth understanding.
The Benefits of Learner-Centered Online Training
- It offers a fully personalized training experience.
Above all else, learner-centered online training allows for personalized and powerful eLearning experiences for all employees. An employee who prefers rich and immersive multimedia eLearning activities will benefit from learner-centered design just as much as someone who gravitates toward online training courses that involve stories and games. Likewise, some employees may want to access the online training session on their mobile devices, while others would prefer to participate on their laptops. All of these learning needs and preferences can be accommodated within a learner-centered design. This is also why it's essential to do your research beforehand to find out what your audience needs and wants in an online training experience, so that you can make it happen.
- It boosts knowledge retention.
Learner-centered online training courses give employees the opportunity to not only acquire new information more effectively, but also to retain that knowledge for later use. A learner-centered approach gives eLearning professionals the opportunity to design online training experiences that challenge the employees based upon their personal and/or professional needs, rather than creating “one size fits all” online training courses that don't walk that fine line between difficult and tedious. Employees are encouraged to access previously acquired information and then put that knowledge into action, so that they can commit it to long term memory.
- It improves on-the-job performance.
There are a number of job performance benefits that come from effective learner-centered online training courses. First and foremost, this approach empowers employees by encouraging them to not only think for themselves, but to understand that all of their decisions have consequences and rewards. It also allows them to go at their own pace and to pick-and-choose which learning materials best suit them and/or which lessons they will explore next. This boosts on-the-job performance because it puts them in control of their own skill set development. They are no longer passive observers who have no power over their training, but they are in fact active participants who have the ability to achieve their professional goals and reach that next tier within the organization.
- It builds teamwork and critical thinking skills.
Despite the fact that learner-centered online training sessions may give the power back to the employee, it also involves a great deal of group collaboration. You can encourage your audience to interact with their colleagues through group exercises, which can be done remotely with online project management platforms, and to solve problems by communicating with peers. This enables them to benefit from the experience and knowledge base of other employees through social interaction and collaboration, while still having control over the online training experience.
- It creates an online training environment that ties into a real world context.
The simple truth is that no matter how much time you devote to carefully crafting your content or designing visually striking graphs and images, you just aren't going to offer any real value to your audience if the online training course fails to offer real world value. There are plenty of opportunities to integrate real world benefits and challenges into a learner-centered online training deliverable. Create branching scenarios or simulations that are focused around on-the-job situations that they might encounter, or games and real world examples that make them see how the subject matter directly relates to their real lives outside of the virtual training classroom.
Bear in mind that these are just a few of the many benefits associated with learner-centered online training. This approach can be used in virtually all corporate environments, even in compliance training, which can turn potentially boring or tedious subject matter into an engaging and immersive online training course.
Another effective online training approach that you may want to consider is persuasive learning. In fact, it can be used alongside a learner-centered design to make it even more powerful and effective for your audience. Read the article 5 Tips to Design eLearning Based on Persuasive Learning for creating a successful persuasive eLearning strategy.