With the recent shift to remote work resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, HR teams are now faced with the challenge of taking – traditionally in-person L&D programs online. We asked Drew Remiker, Head of Professional Services at NovoEd, to provide insight.
Drew Remiker leads the Learning Experience Design team at NovoEd and has contributed to course designs with many organizations including CEMEX, Comcast, Nestle, The Presentation Company, and even designed his own course for Instructional Designers featured on NovoEd.
1. As the COVID-19 pandemic forces more and more workers to work from home, what opportunities do you see for employers who are new to remote L&D?
Innovation in online learning and development is the biggest opportunity that will emerge from this crisis. Companies that have been hesitant to move select workshops and legacy development programs online will find that they can conduct these programs in a digital format with greater impact, more engagement, and at a lower cost.
2. What are the risks of moving to remote learning and development?
The biggest risk is that in the rush to get programs online, companies will be tempted to sacrifice the impact of the learning experience for convenience. There’s an instinct to replicate the in-person experience through a series of video conferences, supplemented by distributing learning materials online. High-impact learning that produces real results requires more than this. Employees are already reporting burnout from non-stop video conferences for their day-to-day work. Extending this experience to training may make impactful learning impossible.
3. What recommendations do you have for companies without prior experience with remote L&D?
Due to the sudden new normal of remote work, many global enterprises are grappling with how to enable remote learning. The challenge may appear daunting, but organizations have been innovating to move training online for years to accommodate workforces that are increasingly distributed and remote.
My first recommendation for those new to creating online learning experiences is to take a deep breath. View the move online as an opportunity to innovate: to digitally transform and to more fully engage your employees in learning. After that, it’s then down to brass tacks and good decision making.
My second suggestion is to start small before scaling big.To maintain quality, companies should be selective in how they get started, meaning a focus on particular initiatives instead of attempting to move everything online at once.
Thirdly, develop a clear plan. This should include identifying your team and clarifying learning objectives before identifying the appropriate technology solution, the timeline, and the desired content. It’s helpful to establish a common framework and structure for moving training online before you start. For example, the learning strategies and methods you use when migrating a one day workshop may be different from those used to adapt a 12-week leadership development program.
Finally, cast a wide net when thinking about content. You can enrich and contextualize learning experiences with a combination of content that either currently exists, can be easily developed, or can be repurposed from online libraries such as LinkedIn Learning.
4. What’s the most important thing companies should be aware of as they transition to remote L&D processes and programs?
The primary goal for companies to keep in mind as they transition to remote L&D processes and programs is to seek solutions that enable them to maintain –– if not improve –– the impact and engagement from your in-person training program.
5. What are some potential hurdles they should be aware of?
Given the need for speed and ease, many companies are tempted by video conferencing as their training solution. If you’re planning a short information-sharing session, a video conference can be a good solution. But, most companies are looking for a rich learning experience, in which case, they need a scalable, flexible online platform that incorporates virtual instructor-led workshops, self-study sessions with articles and videos, peer feedback, group projects, and mentoring and coaching, all designed to generate powerful learning and to scale culture and performance change.
When done well, you can enhance employee connections and create a culture of togetherness with online learning, which can otherwise be very isolating.
6. What suggestions do you have for moving in-person L&D programs online quickly?
First, it’s important to stretch learning over time. If you’ve typically offered full-day or multi-day workshops, break up your training into smaller lessons with participant activities in between live or recorded sessions and content over two to six weeks. Retention is higher with more time to absorb and reflect with peers.
Second, design for application, meaning be sure that the learning activities are authentic and allow participants to connect what they’re learning to the real world.
Third, curate and create content. With online training, you’re not limited to lectures and PowerPoint — think videos, articles, podcasts, infographics, games, ebooks, web conferences and other creative formats. Repurpose existing content wherever possible, and create your own content to supplement it so you can include messaging and a look that’s on brand.
Finally, the fourth step is to preserve social learning as it leads to higher achievement, productivity, and a sense of belonging. Retain the social elements of in-person workshops with intentionally designed activities and tools including group assignments, breakout discussions and peer feedback.
Along with hand-washing, disinfecting, and social distancing, Zoom has become part of life for many during the pandemic. However, the initial thrill of seeing distant colleagues on video conferences has given way to fatigue, anxiety, and distraction as we struggle to stay engaged.