‘Learning in a virtual environment doesn’t have to be lonely’….

Learning in a virtual environment doesn't have to be lonely

There will always be those that are ‘for’ e-learning, and those that are ‘against’ e-learning, and one of these arguments against that we recently encountered was that ‘e-learning is lonely.’

Of course it could be, if what you were learning wasn’t being applied back into the workplace. All learning benefits from purpose, which helps put it into context, and we subscribe to the view that learning is much more effective when it is part of a work based project or activities.

We know and understand that to learn people require social contact and interaction. That contact can come during the learning, if say the learner has an on-line mentor, coach or an accountability buddy (someone that holds you to your commitments!).  In simple terms, someone to call to discuss their e-learning with, in the way that you would interact with someone in a classroom environment. The obvious benefits of this are that you and your mentor can arrange times to speak that suit you both, and you are not limited not just when the class is being run.  The interaction can also be confidential, and less threatening than an open forum such as a workshop.

Ways of combining work and learning strategies have been enhanced by the introduction of learning and knowledge management portals. These portals are designed to allow users to learn individually, but also be able to choose when to socially interact and take the best parts of social media to deliver ‘social learning’ experiences.

Online learning is already a vital business tool. Organisations use these amazing technologies to train on-line, capture and disseminate knowledge, and gain competitive advantage.  Technology is a key enabler in modern learning and we need to drop our prejudices and assess its value in the context of our own individual and organisational development.

 How to reduce lonEliness

  • Assign a mentor, coach or accountability buddy to all learners
  • Ensure that each learner has a work based project or specific practical deployment plan to reinforce and embed their learning
  • Make it social and encourage the use of learner and knowledge forums
  • If you have a number of individual learners undertaking the same topics, set up Action Learning Sets
  • Reward staff who make use of e-learning
  • Ensure your e-learning has interactive content with leader boards and module comments
  • Make sure there is a feedback loop for assignments and project based work

 The goal is to build a sense of sharing, community and interaction.

E-learning content should be well constructed, but just as important is the environment you create for your learners.

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