Successful Transition to Remote Learning: Decoding the New Normal

The world might be grappling with multiple slowdowns today, but if there is one area that the COVID-19 crisis has fast-tracked, it is the adoption of remote work and remote learning.  As organizations try and decode the new normal, there is a complete paradigm shift underway. The huge momentum towards remote work has led L&D leaders to fall back on technology to deliver remote learning. They are leveraging technology to move the needle in a variety of training contexts – skill building, leadership development, sales training, compliance, and education. Remote learning technology is also witnessing a lot of investor interest.

As a corporate L&D leader, you are in a very sweet but tricky spot. You are expected to drive this whole transition to remote learning successfully. But for that, you need to have a sound strategy in place. Do you understand the potential and boundaries of remote learning in organizations? Do you know what are the drivers of successful transition beyond giving zoom accounts instructors and trainers?  Is your business model in-sync with your transition plan?

Harbinger had the privilege of hosting 3 highly accomplished learning and development leaders recently, for a virtual Power Hour, on the topic ‘Successful Transition to Remote Learning: Decoding the New Normal.’ The guests were Christopher McLaverty (Senior HR Business Partner and Organization Development Practitioner), Ganesh Natarajan (Co-Founder of 5F World and Kalzoom), and Walter Davis (Head of Talent and Learning Technology at Aggreko). The discussion was led and facilitated by Dr. Vikas Joshi (CEO at Harbinger Group).

Key Challenges and Drivers of Remote Learning

Vikas opened the session with some fascinating statistics indicating the increased investor interest in remote learning and then moved on to talk about the key challenges that organizations face when moving to remote learning. Some of them being,

  • Engaging learners
  • Managing stakeholder expectations ​– Internal customer, executive leadership, and learner
  • Creating classroom-like experiences
  • Selecting technology​
  • Internet connectivity

The panelists talked about how they addressed these challenges at their workplaces and managed a successful transition.

There was a lot of interesting discussion around the drivers of a successful transition to remote learning​, which includes, right early wins, careful revision of metrics and measurement, and most importantly, the use of the right technology across the whole learning experience.

Tips for Transitioning to Remote Learning

After a detailed and insightful discussion with the panelists, Vikas shared some useful tips for organizations to plan their transition to remote learning. As an L&D leader, for a successful transition, you need to

  • Align training programs with business strategy​
  • Make internal customers and L&D co-owners of the transition​
  • Assess new capability gaps and focus on them​
  • Design it as a learning journey instead of discrete sessions​
  • Pilot a training session and then scale-up​
  • Define KPIs and measure impact​
  • Integrate L&D in the flow of work​
  • Invest into systems and technology

Remote learning is here to stay. The sooner you adapt to it, quicker you can reap the benefits.  L&D leaders need to sensitize executives and customers about the boundaries and potential of remote learning. They also need to educate instructors, curriculum designers, and learners on how they should prepare for remote learning​. And yes, not to forget, technology is a key driver in this whole transition​.

Here is the link to the Power Hour session recording.

Have you been struggling with transitioning to remote learning? Or have you successfully navigated this challenge? What success stories, experiences, or tips do you have to share? Please comment below or drop us a note at info@harbingerelearning.com.

Emergence of Remote Learning

The Definition

Remote learning is any kind of learning that happens outside of a traditional classroom because the learner and facilitator are separated by distance and/or time. Remote learning can be real-time or flexibility timed, in other words it could be synchronous or asynchronous.And the role of technology can vary;  the primary reason for variance in technology is that we cannot assume that every remote learner has got access to equivalent technology infrastructure.

The History

Remote learning is not an entirely new concept. We can equate quite a few attributes of remote learning to distance education. In the late 1800s, at the University of Chicago, the first major distance education program in the United States was established, in which the teacher and learner were at different locations. One of the pioneers of distance learning, William Rainey Harper was of the idea that many would benefit by taking up the first two years of college in their hometowns. This led to the founding of American community colleges. But it was never a smooth sailing; the adoption for distance learning took some time and efforts. In fact, it was said that distance education was designed to provide educational opportunities to those who were not among the elite could not afford full-time residence at an educational institution. It was looked down on as an inferior alternative to traditional education.

However, the need to provide equal access to educational and learning opportunities has always been a part of our society’s democratic ideals. Things kept progressing, the adoption rate kept increasing and then the COVID-19 curve ball hit all of us. Ironical as it may sound, it gave us all an opportunity to iron out any shortcomings of distance learning models, and implement it as remote learning.

The Current Context

Today, COVID-19 outbreak has changed the way people work, learn, and teach around the globe. To mitigate the risk of virus and keep people healthy and in turn engaged, organizations and educational institutions are willing to trade off in-person interactions in favor of remote work or virtual events.

In the case of remote work, organizations and educational institutions are keenly observing and studying the effects of the pandemic situation on productivity, efficiency, work quality, customer satisfaction and more. And with a possibility of downturn in economy, at least in some business segments, this might well turn out to be a double whammy. A recent article from Harvard Business Review has in fact flagged that the current pandemic situation will lead to a significantly changed world. And what is more important is that we need to be prepared for the changed world.

This is where remote learning starts to emerge as a major contributor towards balancing things.  Helping us successfully navigate through the current situation, achieving collective goals, and at the same time helping us to be prepared for the new normal, remote learning is taking an increasingly central role in shaping up a better world.

 

 

7 Cool Tips for Effectively Using Web Meeting Apps for Online Training

With the COVID- 19 outbreak early this year, a big chunk of the global business and education community moved online. Right from classrooms to instructor-led training, everything went virtual. And the use of web meeting apps and tools shot up drastically. With so many people using such tools these days, some tips to use them effectively could come in handy. So, here are a bunch of those.

Tips to Effectively Use Online Meeting Apps for Training

1. Put a face to the voice

Whenever possible, try to put on your videos while you are on a web meeting. It helps to build a connect and also lets you make eye contact during the web meeting or online training.

2. Create the right ambience

Make sure the place where you are sitting is well illuminated and there are no distractions in the background. And in case you get caught in a situation wherein you cannot avoid the distractions then you can customize your background with a virtual one. Pick one of the pre-loaded ones that comes with your tool or use a custom background.

3. Ensure safety

There are a bunch of things you could do to create a safe meeting space. To start with, it is a good idea to have the meeting password feature enabled, it adds a layer of security. You can also enable the waiting room where all the participants can gather before the meeting starts and once you allow them in go ahead and lock the room. This way you can avoid any unwanted guests. And last but not the least, as an organizer of the meeting you also have the option of disabling the chat and video functionality of the participants.

4. Know your recording options

As a trainer, the simplest thing you could do here is click on the record button on the main screen  but if you want to get very specific, then you can select what do you exactly want to record, – audio-only, chat only, audio + video. Most of the web meeting tools come with all such recording options.

5. Learn the shortcuts

With extensive usage, I have come across features in my web meeting tool that I didn’t know existed earlier. Like, you can use the space bar to mute and unmute yourself during the meetings. Earlier when I used to be in a group meeting, I had to literally scramble to click on the microphone button. But now I have a more efficient way to do it. This option works with tools like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams.

6. Collaborate effectively

There are many ways to collaborate effectively in a group meeting. Like, you can have a collaborative annotation session. Annotation tools let all the meeting participants draw and highlight what is on the screen. This can be immensely helpful when discussing visual materials, such as mockups, graphic designs, etc. You could also make use of breakout rooms to let your audience discuss and collaborate amongst themselves.

7. Display participant names

Imagine a situation wherein you are addressing a student in an online class and you happen to forget their name. It can get awkward. To avoid this, enable the option to ‘Always display participant’s name on their videos.’

These were some tips that have helped to make my virtual meetings and training sessions effective. Hope these come in handy for you too. If you have any questions and want to know more in detail about any of the specific tips, please drop us a line at info@harbingerlearning.com.

Will AI transform eLearning?

We are already experiencing how AI is affecting some facets of our lives. How you ask? The movement sensing lights that go on when you enter an unoccupied conference room or a parking area, intelligent sensors in cameras now that detect a smile and help take good pictures, cars with automatic parking features, Alexa switching on the living room lights, and Google adding items to your shopping list! We have personal assistants in our smartphones that we have rather got used to. The buzz around AI in eLearning has also acquired lot of weight in the last few years. Needless to say, AI is the primary topic of interest at most learning and technology conferences these days. I happened to attend Learning Solutions 2019 Conference in Orlando in March this year, and not surprisingly, AI took the center stage. It was evident from the numerous sessions being conducted around AI and many renowned speakers talking about its impact on the current eLearning scenario. Following are some interesting trends and insights that caught my attention.

Chatbots

Chatbots have become synonymous with AI in eLearning. They stole the show at this conference as well by being the most discussed AI application.

Vince Han, CEO and Founder of Mobile Coach, talked about how chatbots can be an effective solution in connecting learners with resources and job aids they need, and when they need them.

Hugh Seaton, CEO of Aquinas Learning, touched upon how chatbots offer a way to easily create and deploy interactive and adaptive learning sequences in learning engagements. He walked the audience through creating a simple chatbot based on Google’s DialogFlow.

Joe Ganci, President of eLearning Joe, helped identify ways to incorporate a chatbot in your learning project and gave examples of how chatbots can introduce a course and deliver pre-work, give embedded performance feedback during the course, and share personalized tips after the course.

AI and Instructional Design

AI and its effect on instructional designers was the next most discussed thing after chatbots.

A panel discussion titled ‘Where is instructional design heading?’ which was conducted by industry’s instructional design experts discussed how instructional design needs to evolve as new technologies and approaches emerge. The panel gave tips on what can best help instructional designers prepare for where instructional design may be heading.

Poonam Jaypuriya, Vice President of eLearning at Harbinger Interactive Learning, talked about why the fear of AI replacing humans in the learning workforce is unwarranted.  She emphasized on how instructional designers’ role has evolved with the emergence of AI in the learning ecosystem.

With so much to ponder on, it’s but natural to think how AI is making inroads to eLearning and revolutionizing the learning industry.

Apart from the above points, here’s how AI could impress.

  • eLearning powered by AI will differentiate learners’ learning speeds and suggest different paths of learning depending on their current level of mastery.
  • The key to building successful learning experiences lies in asking the right questions. AI-powered platforms can be used to create questions, assessments, and quizzes with greater speed and efficiency.

As I understand, the overall research goal of AI is to create technology that allows computers and machines to function in an intelligent manner. Time will only tell whether AI in eLearning lives upto the hype or not, but for now, the future seems to be bright.

Autonomy in Corporate Learning – Content Guidelines To Follow

By definition, autonomy is your capacity to take responsibility for, and control of your own learning, whether in an institution, or completely independent of an instructor or institution. Does this sound familiar? Can you relate to it? Let’s explore further in this article.

There are drastic changes in our everyday life when it comes to learning, compared to a decade back. Autonomy is a big part of this new age learning and is completely transforming our learning experiences. Kids are learning with apps like Byju’s and professionals are making use of portals like Udemy. Watching tutorials to create curated photos for Instagram and vines for YouTube!

Autonomy in workplace learning has been fueled by certain factors in the recent years. Some of them being:

• Inclusion of millennials and gen Z in the workforce
•High mobile usage penetration
• Rise of the gig economy

Users who opt for an autonomous style of learning are usually the ones who want to learn a particular skill in a very short time frame. These users are expected to grasp concepts quickly and put them into practice immediately.

At the core of it, autonomy demands the focus to shift from a culture of training to a culture of learning.  Building right learning content is the first step towards encouraging it. Here are some good practices to remember as you develop autonomous learning content for your organization.

1. Personalize the course
i. Using terms like “I am here” or ‘’you are here’’ for the user’s status.
ii. Allow users to input their name, which the system dynamically fetches through the course.

2. Make users feel accountable
i. Showing awards or rewards that they have earned.
ii. Having negative scoring also helps sometimes.
iii. Having timers to create a sense of urgency.

3. Guide users without overwhelming them
i. Showing roadmaps or scoreboards for the status – this is very important for self-paced learning.
ii. Using accurate signifiers to guide the user – these ensure that no time is wasted in completing user actions or interactions.
iii. Providing options to revisit or skip.

4. Keeping content light and precise
i. Using smaller animations with greater impact, since the attention span of the modern-day learners is quite low.
ii. Animation screens should always be ‘open-navigation’ and not restricted. Users should be able to decide which part of the animation they want to visit.
iii. Do not use jargonized statements and objectives. Keep the language simple. And also, try and limit the total number of objectives to 4, to keep them achievable.

Autonomy is more of a mindset than a practice. What do you think? Are there any best practices that you would like to share? Comment below!