Adding the Human Touch to Online Learning
Online learning can be found everywhere today. It plays a role in homeschooling children. It’s used in boardrooms. It’s used for professional, ongoing training for employees. Whether you prefer the term “distance” learning, opt for the “online” moniker, or just call it training, it has a central role in our lives today. However, for all that widespread adoption, it can still pose some problems for many students (of all ages and backgrounds) simply because it so often lacks the one thing that we all need – the human touch.
Without a human touch, online learning can be sterile, unimaginative, even disengaging. How can eLearning companies get around this issue and add that human element that’s so often missing from online learning materials? What can be done to overcome the sheer impersonal nature of these programs? Actually, there are several ways.
One of the simplest yet most effective ways to add the human touch to online learning platforms is the use of video content. Video provides everything but actual physical touch – students are able to hear a real person speak, see their facial expression, and even their reaction. However, it’s important to provide a holistic experience for learners by using the same speakers throughout a series of videos. This lets students connect better with the speakers, and even build something of a relationship with them (although entirely fictional, it has a very similar impact on learners as working with a teacher in a physical classroom).
Live Video Chats
Sometimes, there’s no replacement for one on one human interaction. Maybe a student has a question that’s not easily answered with prepared materials or through online research. In traditional learning situations, he or she would be able to simply ask the teacher, who would then answer, explain or provide further information about where to find the answer needed. Video chats with professors, teachers, instructors and tutors provide the same benefits for students engaged in online learning. And, because these chats are conducted online and delivered through video and audio technology, the students and instructor can be located anywhere in the world.
Student to Student Connectedness
In a physical classroom, students are able to build one on one relationships with each other. In the online learning environment, that’s not the case. However, it need not be that way. There are a number of online education platforms that have found ways around these. One option is to use an Internet forum, where students can post comments in specific threads, ask questions, share information and even crack jokes. Others use email, chat apps (like SnapChat and other similar programs), and more. There are plenty of options for developing the student to student connectedness needed.
Support for Students
Sometimes, it’s more about providing support during longer courses than it is about having a personal connection during individual sessions. For instance, a student might not need any help during a 90-minute course, but one that spans weeks or even months will become challenging to complete without some form of human support. That can be provided in a number of ways, including email, chat or even video support. It’s more about providing motivation and keeping students on track than it is about the material of the course itself.
Online learning continues to grow in terms of applicability. It’s used by high schools, colleges and businesses around the world. However, without the human touch, many students will find online courses more challenging than those delivered in a face-to-face environment. The good news is that adding the human element is simpler than you might think.
What to dive deeper? Check out these excellent resources regarding this topic:
What techniques do you use within your organization to facilitate learner-to-learner interaction? Sign-in (free) using your LinkedIn account and comment below.