COVID-19 information

Written by: Jenna Panas 

When we think about online learning we typically think about a webinar where the presenter drones on about their PowerPoint presentation while we check our email, surf the internet, and do anything but pay attention to the information that we are ostensibly learning. Is it any wonder then that online learning for professional development is perceived as a short-cut, a less than approach when compared to the rigors of having to attend trainings in person.

However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Just as in person training can be dull and uninspiring, depending on the abilities of the trainer, online training is heavily dependent on good design. The internet is a visual medium – online training that has compelling infographics, learning stories, and photos is more appealing to a learner. Those designing trainings must emphasize finding or creating graphics that support the learning objectives, and utilize text to emphasis points. Rather than a physical instructor being the primary vehicle for transmission of information, graphics do the heavy lifting for good online learning.

Training that has interaction for the learner built in – whether that is clicking on pictures, answering questions, or interacting with the learning environment – creates a stimulating environment that keeps learners engaged. Rather than being able to passively sit through a video that auto plays or a webinar in the background, by creating an environment that the learner needs to click through and engage with, learners will stay with the training for the entire time.

The overall organization of the training is also important to the learner. Content and activities should relate and build on each other. Information should move sequentially without extraneous information included.  A good learning management system or website that provides simple navigation and organization of materials will also increase the ability of learner’s to access a course and subsequently increase their satisfaction with the experience. That learning management system also allows for the incorporations of multiple elements: visual learning, videos, audio instruction, learner interactions and learner assessments is ideal. This structure allows for multiple engagements with a learner which in turn creates a better opportunity for the learner to absorb the material.

Online training is wonderful for all the reasons we are already familiar with – you don’t have to travel, it is accessible anytime, but by using good design, online training can also deliver outcomes superior to in person training.