The co-founder and CTO of Novoid discusses the future of online learning and the need to move away from a ‘lift and shift’ training approach.
Over the past 15 or so months, we’ve gone from joking about the ‘new normal’ to talking seriously about never going back to the ‘old normal’.
The need to decentralize systems and infrastructure, as well as extended periods of remote working and learning, have forced us to look critically at which processes we want to return after the pandemic and which ones we want to replace. .
Online learning is one of the biggest areas that can see a boom due to the pandemic. However, the students were pushed into the remote world just as the workforce was, under less than ideal conditionsIt has provided an opportunity to mainstream different perspectives.
Not only could it change the way the education sector works, but it could also bring a new way of skill enhancement for the world’s workforce.
While the online learning environment may seem very new to many right now, it is something that Farnaz Ronaghi has been working on for almost a decade.
‘Online learning will foster a culture of employee connection and solidarity’
– Farnaz Ronaghi
Ronaghi has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a master’s degree and PhD in management science and engineering, information science and technology from Stanford University.
During his PhD, he built the first version of Novoid, an online collaborative learning platform, in 2012 at Stanford’s Social Algorithms Lab.
Ronaghi is passionate about building the next generation of online learning experiences and says this is the only way to go when it comes to growing a highly distributed workforce.
“But to be successful, organizations need a more human-centered approach to creating community and social connections that sustain engagement and change,” she told Siliconrepublic.com.
value of online learning
While students around the world have had to switch their full-time education to online learning at different points in the past year, online learning can also have significant importance in the work environment.
“Corporate learning has the power to systematically develop the organization-wide capabilities that employees need to innovate in increasingly complex and distributed environments, but only when they can learn from and from each other.” and only if the learning is in line with their company culture, mission, values and specific roles,” Ronaghi said.
“When done well, effective and engaging online learning will also enhance a culture of employee connection and solidarity in today’s environment, which can be very different and disconnected across regions and time zones.”
But leaders need to be more creative about designing and delivering learning experiences that meet the needs of learners and make a real impact, he said.
“To do this, they will need to overcome the mindset, assumptions and practices of the past about how online learning is done.
“One mindset to overcome is that self-paced learning is solo learning. Many people in the learning community create content or traditional e-learning courses as a solution to every problem. There is a need for one-way knowledge transfer on some difficult skills This approach may be ok, but it does not develop abilities. Developing abilities requires practice and application, peer learning, feedback and social reinforcement.”
Another mindset that can negatively impact the online learning space is the belief that, even in the online world, brick-and-mortar institutions still hold the top positions.
A 2018 North Eastern University Survey found that 58 percent of American employers believe that an institution’s brand and reputation are the main drivers of a credential’s value, whether it is earned online or not.
and according to a study From the Society for Human Resource Management, 92pc employers consider online degrees from brick-and-mortar schools favorably, while only 42pc will consider a candidate who, despite accreditation, obtained an online degree from a university that operates entirely online. is.
Although these studies are based in the US, this presents a related bias that may exist against purely online offerings that do not have the legacy of an established individual program from a traditional institution.
Another misconception that Ronaghi highlighted was the idea that personal training can only ‘lift and move’ in an online video environment – a challenge that plagues employers when it comes to growing their workforce. .
“Over the past year, in particular, efforts at in-person learning through Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams and other workplace collaboration tools have revealed the difficulties of maintaining learner engagement in the form of digital fatigue. ,” He said.
“Adopting a human-centered iterative approach to design, agility in creation and delivery, and contextualizing content through relevant and purposeful learning activities is key to unleashing the power of online learning in organizations.”
advice for leaders
In addition to the need to clear up misconceptions, Ronaghi offered some advice for leaders to create better learning environments.
These should include virtual instructor-led workshops, self-study sessions with articles and videos, practice and application-oriented projects, peer feedback, group projects, and mentoring and coaching, he said.
“With online training, you are not limited to lectures and PowerPoint. Think videos, articles, podcasts, infographics, games, e-books, web conferences and other creative formats. Repurpose existing content wherever possible and Create your own content to complement it so you can incorporate the message and add a look and feel to the brand.
He said online learning needs to be scaled up over time to achieve long-term success. “Retention is higher with more time to absorb and reflect with peers. Designing the app is also important to ensure that learning activities are authentic to your company culture and that participants are exposed to the real world and their allow them to add to what they are learning from current roles.”
Another tip Ronaghi offered was that businesses should start small when it comes to building online training from the ground up. “This will allow you to maintain quality before scaling your programs organization-wide.”
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