Online learning is supposed to bridge many gaps. And when it’s done right, it can transform the way your business gets things done.
Take it from over 40% of Fortune 500 companies who use it to train their employees.
But, ironically, elearning doesn’t come without a learning curve of its own.
Can you relate? Well, you’re in the right place.
Whether you’re struggling with online learning in practice, trying to prevent pitfalls ahead of time, or doing your first round of homework on what it even is…
We’ve got you covered.
This resource is all about the practical how-to of online learning, so bookmark it and revisit as needed.
Intro to Online Learning
*If you know this part, you can skip ahead to Common Challenges.
It’s a weird time for businesses.
Some of us have employees of three years that we’ve never seen in person.
As far as remote work goes, we know that plenty of people not only prefer it, but get more done in this setting. Great news, right?
But this work model brings its own challenges to companies.
For one, it’s hard to tell if your coaching works when you never see your employees’ faces. And if it doesn’t, how do you even know you have problems to fix until it’s too late?
You have to grab it by the roots.
And that’s where online learning comes into the picture.
Benefits of online learning classes
Online learning is basically the remote equivalent of traditional learning, but newer, better, and with extra benefits.
So, where you traditionally have in-person classes, seminars, or conferences, online learning gives you the internet-based alternatives:
- Online courses
- Video conferences
- Internet resources and online databases
All without requiring you to show up personally. Or, you know, wear pants.
Online learning solves the kind of problem we just talked about. For example, if your workplace training is inaccessible, you can’t just shrug it off because lack of training directly translates to lower employee retention.
Online learning increases retention by 25-60%, and companies that have comprehensive training programs have 218% higher revenue per employee.
Wait, there’s more.
42% of businesses report an increase in revenue after switching to online learning.
Don’t look so surprised. We did say it has some neat benefits. But if you liked those, you’ll be interested to hear these other perks of learning online:
And that’s on online learning in general.
But playtime’s over. Time to learn a couple of fancy terms for elearning types and take a closer look at how each works.
Types of Online Learning Programs
Don’t worry. They aren’t actually complicated in any way. As soon as you spot the “sync” part of each word, you’ll pretty much know what each type is already.
But we won’t leave you hanging.
Asynchronous Online Learning
Asynchronous means you get to complete the online learning program at your own time, when it suits you, as opposed to adhering to a schedule.
As in, out of sync.
Within an allowed time frame, you’re free to organize when and how much you’re able to study in one sitting without having repercussions.
Asynchronous online learning may not work for everyone, but it’s a blessing in a lot of situations:
- For remote and international learners who may be operating in different time zones
- For people who require custom/different learning structures and are good at self-pacing
- For those who need flexibility due to demanding work hours, parenting, etc.
- For online learning classes that are role-specific or personalized
Synchronous Online Learning
Synchronous learning means “in sync” with other people, a schedule, a program…
Synchronous lessons work pretty much like traditional school, except online.
You attend and partake in courses and webinars.
Synchronous online learning may refer to an interactive webinar, video conference, or another form of an interactive learning environment.
It’s more structured and attendance-based. And, if it sounds like a drag, it can be.
But it can also work really well:
- For those who need the structure and accountability
- For participation in real-time discussions
- Instant answers to important questions
- Instructors can get a feel of how well the material is being adopted and readjust if needed
This is closer to the normal learning environment we’re all used to.
Hybrid Online Learning
Lastly, we have the hybrid online learning option.
This is a mixed form that combines aspects of synchronous and asynchronous learning.
For example, maybe you can choose whether to attend and participate in a webinar or to watch it later on your own time.
This is generally a good idea for companies, especially if they already have established on-site synchronous learning programs but want to expand and be remote.
5 Common Challenges of Learning Online
Welcome to my fellow skimmers. As we were saying, any approach you take to online learning has its ups and downs.
But below are the most frequent challenges we see with online learning classes.
We figured, before we move on to practical tips to improve your online learning programs, we need to make sure you don’t accidentally tank them first.
So here’s what they are, why they happen, and how you can work on them across the board.
1. Lack of personalization
Wait. You’re saying we need to cater our programs to each individual employee we hire?!
We hear you. And that's not exactly what we mean… Just hear us out.
You want your online learning program to reflect your business objectives. Sure, that makes sense. As long as you’re not making every employee take the exact same training and learn all the information when they need just the part that’s in their lane.
Hard pill to swallow: you can’t expect every employee to care about all of your goals as much as you do.
They don’t need to, anyway. They just need to care about their share.
So instead of shoving a one-size-fits-all down their throats, create a couple of learning paths for different types of roles. Let them learn the skills and processes they’ll actually be using day in and day out.
2. Low learner engagement
If your learners aren’t engaged, it could be due to a number of possible reasons that would require different solutions.
Here are some off the top of our head:
You’ll notice that some options contradict each other.
However, some of them apply no matter the situation. For instance, things like interactive content for learner engagement are a good idea across the board.
Add a couple of quizzes and branching scenarios to your learning material and see what happens!
3. No support
Asynchronous learners need support, too.
You may be thinking, you made an entire course with clear modules and even little extra advice scattered all around.
You should just wait until your learners finish the course and then see if they have any questions. Right???
Wrong. Yes, you should give them space to learn always, always be open to questions and check in on people as they hit the milestones.
Bonus tip: don’t settle for asking yes or no questions. People may be intimidated, forget stuff in the moment, or just feel like they have to agree.
A little “does that make sense?” is fine, but what if that doesn’t prod them to open up more? Instead, ask them open-ended questions.
Encourage them to share by explaining why their feedback is valuable.
4. No real-world value
This may just be the elearning sin against humanity #1.
People don’t have time and energy to spare these days. If they already need to go through training, make it worth their effort by teaching them something that has tangible value in their lives.
Classes that lack hands-on participation or seem tedious and unnecessary will OF COURSE send your students to hibernation.
So how do you make sure they will profit from taking it at all? Ask yourself these questions:
- How often will they be applying the knowledge and skills from this program?
- Will their day-to-day life be significantly better thanks to these modules?
- Is this material something you want specifically them to know, or are you giving it to everyone who enters your company, including the Amazon delivery guy who just wanted your signature?
The answers will tell you all you need to know.
5. Logistical issues
You know how it feels to look at someone lagging for 20 seconds on Zoom, and then, as their connection improves, you get a sped-up glitchy playback of what they just said?
Yeah, it’s great.
Learning is hard enough. You need to make sure the logistics of all things don’t make it harder than it needs to be.
That’s sort of the prerequisite of online learning, sorry.
So what are we talking about? Things like:
- Internet access (duh)
- LMS use
- LMS functionality
- Learning analytics, etc.
…all need to be thought out and taken care of.
Otherwise, the internet was down, aka the digital “cat destroyed the homework,” will be the end of all progress.
And now that we’re through with troubleshooting, the path is cleared for these tips to boost your online learning game.
25 Tips to Improve Your Business’ Online Learning Programs
It helps to put focus on the benefits of online learning in each industry and center it around company/client/employee core problems and needs.
Of course, there is a lot of overlap between them. So let’s recap the basics first:
This applies to all online learning and teaching.
And now for the industry-specific nuggets.
6 Online Learning Tips for the Healthcare Industry
When successfully implemented, elearning allows medical professionals to learn without disrupting their already demanding schedules.
So what would successful implementation include?
This should cover most of the ground.
But, when in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask for feedback!
5 Online Learning Tips for Human Resource Management
56% of human resource managers believe training is an integral part of the business. We’d have to agree.
But surprisingly, that doesn’t mean showing them 50-slide presentations of your company history and vague direction.
Instead, create lectures that bring immediate value to your employees by following these tips:
- Make sure the purpose of your courses is clear to employees
- Focus on relevant skill-building rather than theory only
- Break it into manageable modules for better comprehension
- Ask them for feedback along the way and adjust if needed/possible
- Use online learning as an opportunity to get to know them and collaborate
Here’s a great side-effect of structured elearning: you get to see how your employees naturally handle new situations and mentor them.
That way you’re all better equipped for real-world work scenarios.
6 Online Learning Tips for the Tech Industry
We’ll just say it: the tech world can be especially and needlessly complicated to navigate, so there’s no need to spice it up any further.
Try to simplify things for your employees:
- Don’t trample them with all the confusing jargon at once
- Consider microlearning
- Help them understand concepts rather than forcing them to memorize stuff they can find with two clicks
- Organize plenty of supporting materials in a resource library
- Encourage discussion and questions
- Follow theory with hands-on opportunities to test their knowledge and remember it better
This is where your glossary, blogs, and other resources will shine. Now it’s all about making sure everyone knows how to use them.
3 Online Learning Tips for Government Services
Last on our list, a whopping 71% of government employees are disengaged or unhappy with their work.
They feel like their talents and skills aren’t being used to their fullest potential, and as a result, they lack passion for their jobs.
Naturally, this extends to online learning, too.
The door’s always open to change their minds though, so here’s what you can do:
- Invest in learner engagement tactics
- Clarify real-world value of each program and focus on transferable skills
- Accommodate millennial and Gen Z learners who will soon make the majority in the workforce
Remember that people want to grow and learn.
For government employees, on-demand learning on the job is one of the highest priorities.
It’s time to light that fire back in their bellies and show them you value their contributions.
Online Learning FAQ
Will online learning continue in 2022?
Yes. The market is projected to grow by 200% between 2020 and 2025.
It makes sense. Once you see the benefits of online learning, you can’t really unsee them.
Especially after it swooped in to save the day during the pandemic and carried the entire education sector on its back for over two years.
Yeah, it’s safe to say online learning nailed the test. (Not sorry.)
Can online learning affect mental health?
Good question. The answer is definitely yes, but it can go either way.
Elearning as a concept comes with the risk of isolation, virtual learning saturation, anxiety, depression, and loneliness if not properly handled.
However, there are two things to keep in mind reading this:
- A lot of what we know right now about online learning has been researched during the pandemic, which in itself hasn’t been peachy
- Great online learning programs combat these problems by encouraging peer collaboration and discussions and offering proper support
Online learning has also been shown to be great not just for the increased profit, but also for employee job satisfaction, productivity, memory retention, and stress reduction.
This is especially obvious in students who struggled in the traditional learning system, or people like health workers who benefit from more flexible learning options.
Pick Your LMS and Start Learning
Online learning is the missing cog in the machine that ensures all of your teams and clients have the training they need, wherever they are.
Third year into this pandemic mess, that’s a huge deal for businesses. If you can create great courses and get everyone what they need (and not more), elearning can give you massive returns on investment.
And what if you could make sure to get those results for your business?
There’s no reason why you couldn’t with an amazing learning management software like Tovuti that takes care of the logistics for you.
But no pressure here. If you’re not ready and would prefer to learn more about this whole online learning thing, you’ve got our 100% support.