The injunction to never stop learning has always been a lofty ideal and an inspirational axiom. For today’s workers, however, the goal of continuous education is more than an aspiration—it’s a necessity.
No matter how abundant jobs may be and regardless of how kind the job market is, the simple reality is that if people don’t have the skills that they need to perform at optimal levels, job hunters just aren’t going to land their dream gig, nor are job holders going to keep their gig for long.
The pressure on workers to upskill, to continuously develop new capacities and hone existing aptitudes, is greater than ever before. This is why trainers and training developers alike are ever on the hunt for new strategies to support the professional development of adult learners.
But the challenges of supporting adult learning can be immense. For example, adult learners typically have precious little time to devote to professional development, with just one cumulative hour per week often regarded as a reasonable target. That means training developers must pack a large amount of value into a few spare moments scattered throughout a busy work week.
Changing the Game: VILT to Asynchronous E-learning
It’s little wonder that standardized approaches to professional training, such as the use of video instructor-led training (VILT), often fall far short of expectations. Training practices that use traditional VILT typically violate adult learning principles, which are based in interactivity and experiential learning. Since VILT courses may fail to deliver content in the form and format that adult learners need most, the result is a waste of the learners’ valuable time (and consequently, their future interest).
Conversely, asynchronous e-learning enables learners to study on their own time and according to their particular schedules. It also provides significant opportunities for learner engagement and content customization, unlike VILT. The result is a learning experience that maximizes educational value for learners by conforming to and capitalizing on adult learning principles without placing too burdensome a demand on learners’ time.
This article describes essential strategies that trainers and course developers can use to convert from VILT to e-learning in order to promote learner retention, engagement, and success while avoiding many of the pitfalls of standard VILT.
Chunk Content to Minimize Demands on Learners’ Time
One of the most significant challenges that adult learners face when it comes to VILT pertains to time management. Adult learners may find it difficult, if not impossible, to attend synchronous video presentations to complete their training. Even when presentations are recorded and posted for viewing at a later date, the demands on an adult learner’s time may still be untenable.
Between work, home, and family responsibilities, adult learners may be unable to dedicate even thirty consecutive minutes to watch an instructional video. Expecting them to may lead them to become overwhelmed, disgruntled, and disengaged.
So, when converting from VILT to e-learning, you shouldn’t simply transfer your content as-is from video to e-course; you will only perpetuate the problems of the VILT format. Instead, break your course content into more learner-friendly bite-sized portions. Rather than requiring learners to sit through long video tutorials, microlearning presents content in brief “chunks.”
Microlearning also enables learners to progress at their own pace, without committing substantial periods of time to uninterrupted study. A lesson can be selected and completed while the learner commutes to work or is on lunch break, increasing retention. Since the micro-lessons are available on demand, learners don’t have to arrange their schedules around a synchronous virtual video training session. They’re also going to be more motivated and engaged with their training because every microlesson that they complete provides the sense of accomplishment and progress upon which adult learners thrive.
Unleash the Power of Multimodal Learning
The deficiencies of traditional VILT rest not only in the often-unreasonable demands that the format places on learners’ time and schedules but also in the dully formulaic character of standard video-based instruction. Whether learners are watching a presentation live on video or viewing a recording, chances are that they’re only passively absorbing (or not) the content, rather than actively engaging with it—a significant violation of adult learning principles.
Asynchronous e-learning enables course developers to integrate a variety of formats into their course content, from video and audio clips to interactive exercises like scenarios, simulations, branching, and gamification. Such multimodal formats increase engagement and improve learner experience, content retention, and content mastery because they address the individual learning styles of a diverse learner population.
Learners have the opportunity to absorb and embrace content in ways that suit them best. Auditory learners may listen to a spoken tutorial, graphical learners may view images to learn a new skill or process, and kinesthetic learners may be led through the process via a sequence of multiple-choice questions (e.g., “choose what happens next” questions) or guided actions (e.g., select X tool and place it on Y item).
Agility, customizability, and learner personalization are just not feasible in VILT training, whether synchronous or asynchronous.
Refresh and Customize Content
The unique capacity for customizing e-learning content isn’t just a benefit for individual learners; it’s also a gift for course developers, trainers, and training clients. VILT is a more static and inflexible medium than e-learning. In most cases, VILT courses cannot be tailored to the unique needs of clients and learners without a great deal of time, effort, and money spent on the process. Large segments of the presentation may have to be cut and reshot when updates or customized content are needed—that is, on the rare occasions when the training doesn’t have to be remade entirely.
Conversely, when it comes to updates and client customization, e-learning courses are a breeze. A particular advantage of converting VILT to asynchronous e-learning is the ease of introducing just-in-time content updates, as micro-lessons can be easily removed and/or updated as necessary without re-creating the entire course, re-recording a video, or re-scheduling a synchronous VILT presentation.
In addition, asynchronous e-learning allows for content to be customized to the particular needs of a specific training client using a single course shell. So, instead of recording one video presentation for a client requiring safety training in the health industry and another for a client in the construction industry, you can create an e-learning course shell on workplace safety and then add and remove customized micro-lessons to meet the specific needs of individual clients and/or industries. Such customizability ensures that courses rarely have to be created whole-cloth, saving training developers significant time and money while increasing productivity, product quality, and client satisfaction.
The pursuit of continuous professional development doesn’t have to place an undue burden on adult learners. Rather, by converting standard VILT to e-learning, trainers and course developers can create a learning experience that is engaging, inspiring, convenient, and personally and professionally beneficial for learners, no matter how time-crunched they may be.
Here at Firmwater, we don’t just sell an LMS for training providers. We partner with them, giving them the tools and insights that they need to implement the best practices in e-learning course development, business growth, and delivery. When they need help, we don’t let them wade through forums and chatbots.
Ready to use an LMS that’s designed for the way YOU work, with a team dedicated to YOUR needs? Book a no-obligation consultation directly with our team today!