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How to prepare your learners for online study

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Author: Lucy Thorpe, Digital Content Specialist

Digital education continues to revolutionise teaching and learning—both in and out of traditional spaces. By 2025, the global elearning market is predicted to reach $325 billion from $107 billion back in 2015. Corporate training, seminars, and school lessons are no longer confined by the walls of a meeting room or lecture hall or classroom. Thanks to the increasing tools on offer to teachers and instructors, online learning is becoming ever more mainstream. However, just as educators need to adjust their mindsets and evolve new skills to teach online, learners need support to adapt to this new way of learning.

Why elearning?

Research demonstrates that elearning increases learner retention rates from 25% to 60%. In comparison, face-to-face training retention rates are very low: 8% to 10%. This increase is due to the autonomy that elearning students gain over the learning process. Plus, if an online student happens to forget something, they can also revisit the material whenever they need to—a major advantage for revision purposes. Furthermore, learners can retake online quizzes if they failed the first time around; this significantly reduces pressure and allows students to focus on actually learning.

Raising the quality and retention bar

Although it is getting relatively easier to teach online as technology evolves, learners are becoming more selective when it comes to online learning. Elearning companies that go above and beyond fundamental learning design standards are raising the quality bar—and learner retention rates. Which means that course developers have to adapt and find ever more innovative ways to prepare students properly for online studies, keep them engaged, and help them become successful in online learning.

So, what makes a successful online learner?

While the following points aren’t necessarily the responsibility of learning designers, we believe it is in your interest to help your learners maximise their online studies and actually finish courses. Supporting your students in their path to becoming a successful online learner will also assist in keeping your audience engaged.

  • Persistence: Persistence is a huge key to success in online learning. Learning designers can provide encouragement, motivation, and inspiration at periodic intervals on the course and after completion.
  • Effective time-management skills: This, too, can be supported by online learning designers through how the framework of the course and assessments are laid out in the design stage. Modules that are lengthy and unengaging are likely to lose students’ attention, while short periods of learning in easy-to-handle chunks will assist students in managing their time better.
  • Communication skills: Encourage students at regular intervals to reach out and contact your support team if they are struggling. Create a safe forum for learners to ask questions and discuss online learning issues so as to keep their focus aligned with the course.
  • Basic technical skills: Provide help and support for improving digital literacy to encourage your students to complete the course. Navigating a new learning management system or tool or platform can be challenging enough for some learners new to online study.

Preparing learners for study online

To improve learner retention rates and increase online student engagement levels, it’s important to help them navigate the online learning process completely. Those who fail to support their audience in online study are effectively pitching learners in at the deep end and hoping they work out how to swim sufficiently to reach the end goal destination. The following steps for how to prepare for online study will effectively teach your learners how to swim in these new online course waters and help improve your course completion rates.

Tips for success in online courses

Communicate these steps for your students to take to improve their success rates in your online courses.

  • Preparation:
  1. Spend time navigating around the learning management system, get used to the learning interface, and familiarise yourself with where to get support.
  2. Set up a natural study schedule according to the online modules and assessments (factor in breaks), and determine realistic expectations for deadlines and coursework.
  3. Read the course information to understand the learning objectives and expectations to reduce any unexpected surprises.
  • Planning:
  1. Optimise and protect your scheduled study time by creating a quiet space for your online learning.
  2. Work out whether your study better in small, short bursts of learning or large chunks and plan your time accordingly.
  3. Plan for distractions. This may seem counterintuitive but expect that your study time won’t always go according to plan—mitigate this by turning off and anticipating any potential distractions.
  • Engagement:
  1. Discover what type of learner you are to optimise on your strengths and weaknesses by monitoring the first couple of weeks.
  2. Use this information to help you become the kind of learner that you want to be by creating a framework around your study efforts.
  3. Avoid skipping material—all included content is included to help you reach the learning objectives.
  • Productivity:
  1. Set study goals to achieve; both short-term and long-term ones.
  2. Find your inspiration to stay motivated and engaged—regularly remind yourself why you want to finish and succeed.
  3. Exercise and eat healthily—looking after yourself is a huge part of maintaining engagement in any type of study.
  • Support:
  1. Leverage the online course community and improve your learning by networking and making connections in student forums.
  2. Take advantage of any personal support system. Let friends and family know about your goals, ask for proof-reading, and lean on your network for moral support when you’re struggling.
  3. Reach out to professional support if you’re facing problems with the course or are unsure about any of the content.
  • Completion:
  1. Prepare for all online assessments; both academically and mentally.
  2. Read and understand the assessment briefs well ahead of time.
  3. Reward yourself for meeting your goals—both the short-term and long-term ones.

Online study is fantastic for convenience and content retention. Learners don’t even have to turn up to a class or training course in person. However, assisting learners to succeed in their online studies has its own challenges and requires implementing a support process to help learners swim these new online waters and complete their courses successfully. Following the outlined steps above not only demonstrates that you, as a learning designer, have your students’ interests at heart but that you are keen to raise the bar in online education too.

Reach out to Oppida to discuss your online course needs and discover how we can facilitate the creation of new courses or the enhancement of current online content. Set up a call with our CEO and founder Bianca Raby, to find out more today.

At Oppida, we believe in creating dynamic learning environments through learning management systems which engage with your learners on a deeper level. Whether you’re at project inception or you’re struggling knee-deep to manage content deliverables, Oppida will tailor learning design support for you. Setup a quick consultation with our founder Bianca Raby and discover how we can help you project manage, design, develop and enhance your online courses from any stage in the course’s lifecycle. Also, sign up for our FREE Designing Digital Learning Course to better understand how to design for digital.

Writer’s Bio

Oppida’s digital content wordsmith with a passion for entrepreneurship, education, and tech, Lucy specialises in helping startups out when they’re lost for words.

Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter or be sure to visit her website here.

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