Self-Paced e-Learning: Why Use It and How to Do It

One of the biggest advantages of turning to online learning for corporate training and development is that it’s an opportunity to provide employees with a self-paced experience.

Self-paced learning has a number of advantages, particularly in a corporate or business environment.

Some of these advantages include:

  • Self-paced learning lets the individual control his or her experience. With traditional classroom settings the pace of the entire course is dependent usually on the fastest or slowest learner. The result is that everyone who falls somewhere in-between on this spectrum isn’t getting the best possible experience, and in business terms this also means you’re not getting the best possible return on your investment for the high costs of instructor-led training. With self-paced learning there is no worry that individuals are being held back or required to go too quickly to keep up with other people in the training course.
  • When learners can move at their own pace it speaks to not only the general speed of the process, but also the differing learning styles people have. When your employees work through training at their own pace they can do things in a way that feels comfortable for them, which allows them to be more engaged in the training process and also to comprehend and retain more of the information. e-Learning ultimately allows you to design customized learning for each employee and still remain on-budget.
  • Self-paced learning can be used as a reference later on. One of the problems with traditional classroom training and development is that much of the information is quickly forgotten after a course is completed. With e-Learning that’s self-paced your employees can take the information on-the-go and on-the-job and refer back to important areas when necessary, which can improve performance, compliance and the overall level of comfort your employees feel.

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When designing self-paced learning for a corporate setting, consider the following tips:

  • The goal of self-paced e-Learning is always going to be not only great overall content, but also usability. If your training isn’t user-friendly and intuitive then you’re not going to be making the most of the benefits that come with this style of training. When you’re developing content first put yourself in the shoes of your employees and ask yourself how easy it will be for users to navigate, access content, and complete the tasks that are part of a module. It’s also a good idea to have other people in your organization do a few dry runs of your training after it’s created to ensure that it’s not only self-paced but also easy to use.
  • Get interactive with the training. When you’re using self-paced learning it’s really up to your employees to complete their training and they’re held accountable for this, but as a course designer you should make it enjoyable for them because not only are they more likely to complete training, but it’s more likely that the content and information will stick with them. Some ways to do this include adding social elements to your online training so they can connect with other learners or training managers, adding videos or implementing case studies that ask employees to think critically about certain situations. Just because learning is self-paced doesn’t mean it’s enough to have your employees just flipping through screen after screen of content. It definitely needs to incorporate engaging features that will hold their attention and make an impact.
  • Give your employees feedback. The idea of quizzes in online training is another way to increase accountability but also keep employees engaged with what’s happening on their screen. One creative idea is to issue quizzes both before and after an employee creates a module. This gives both you and your employee a baseline for the amount of information they already know and it keeps your employees interested in the training and development process, particularly when they know they’ll be responsible for the information presented at the end of a module.
  • Self-paced learning works well both independently and also as part of a larger blended learning concept. If you’re going to be offering a lot of skills training you may consider using self-paced e-Learning to lay the initial groundwork and then combining that with hands-on or in-person training to practice and reinforce the concepts.

Let us know what you think—when do you find that self-paced learning is most valuable within your business?

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