Learning patterns/Completing online training courses
What problem does this solve?Edit
Online training courses provide flexible avenues for acquisition of more/new knowledge and skills mostly on part-time basis. Professionals sign up because they want to progress at work, learn how to serve their clientele better in view of new developments in their field, get better jobs or just for learning purposes. As the COVID-19 crisis continues to hinder physical engagements up to a certain extent, these online training courses are important for continuous professional development and lifelong learning.It is expected that professionals in the information sector participate in online training courses due to ever-evolving information communication technologies that continue to introduce new ways of creating, processing, using, storing and adapting information.
Research has shown that many online courses do not achieve up to 10% completion rate as many participants drop off before completion. This defeats the purpose of such courses and cancels out all the advantages to the participants. This could be due to personal challenges including poor time management, technical issues such as Internet connection and insufficient digital skills to navigate the learning platform and the structure of such courses that unintentionally hinder smooth progression to completion. It is therefore critical that clear pathways for completion of online training courses by professionals who need to keep up with changes in their field are outlined.
What is the solution?Edit
The mechanisms that will help participants of an online training course progress to completion are built in from the design of such a course. Assignments which evaluate understanding of what is taught are an integral part of learning. However, the structure of those assignments in online training courses are capable of hindering participants from completing the course. Online training courses require assignments to be;
- Clearly spelt out so that the participants understand what is expected of them. Convoluted language and unduly high expectations in assignments for online training courses throw off participants when they do not understand how to go about what is required from them.
- More of show the skills acquired practically rather than tell in text what was taught. This sustains interest as the participant will be involved in creating new experiences of the knowledge/skills acquired. For example, in the Wikipedia in African Libraries course, participants in the pilot test showed more interest in assignments that required them to carry out a task on Wikipedia.
- Assessed automatically so that feedback is generated and provided within a minimal time frame. This is important as the completion of assignments in a section enables participants to move on to another one. When assignments of online training courses are assessed manually, there is delay in feedback and participants can lose interest in continuing with the course within that time window of delay.
Also, using attendance to live sessions as a requirement for accessing assignments deters online training course participants from course completion. This happens most in parts of the globe where data costs may be high and unstable Internet is a given for most parts of the day. Live sessions could be recorded and uploaded to YouTube where participants can access such when there is stable Internet Brief, focused and interactive live sessions encourage participants to log in and learn.
Personalizing the courseEdit
Online training courses rarely have the advantages associated classroom experiences. The courses are impersonal as participants log in, access the training materials, join or listen to live sessions and do assignments. Introducing aspects that will personalize such courses are important for progress to completion. Asking participants to use their social media accounts to talk their experiences within the course right from enrollment to completion as an integral part of their assignments creates a connection between the participants and the course as they identify with and ‘own’ it. The connection drives them to accomplish and share their achievements within the course to the outside world. Also creating another space where participants can interact and share views and challenges encountered within the course also build involvement and inclusiveness within the participants that could deter participants dropping off from the course.
Another aspect of inclusiveness that can built into online training courses is virtually introducing the participants to those who already have the skills and knowledge that are learning and who may most likely like within the same country or region. This links the participants to online/offline real people who they can communicate with to share experiences, ask questions and seek solutions.
Things to considerEdit
- Consider the language proficiency and digital skills of intended participants when designing assignments for an online training course.
- As a course designer and facilitator, find out if would-be participants or those already in an online training course have aversion to use of social media to talk about their professional tasks and engagements.
- Ask participants about Internet connection in their countries/regions.
- As an online training course facilitator, be part of a network of professionals that can be called upon for live sessions and/or could be introduced to participants for informal or formal mentoring.
When to useEdit
This learning pattern can be adopted when training professionals in a particular field such as librarians and other library staff who need to acquire new and specific skills for their workplaces.
Meeting the learning needs of US public library staff new to Wikipedia with online training []
Community Growth via Capacity Building []
Strategies to generate interest, motivation and continuity in the digital education community []