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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Use these 5 tips to get the most out of online learning

Virtual and online training exploded onto the scene during the pandemic; a quick shift in learning methods purely out of necessity. But now that the pandemic is behind us, is virtual and online training an effective way to teach health and safety?

According to a recent study by the Institute for Work and Health (IWH), virtual instructor-led, self-paced online, and traditional in-person classroom training are all effective forms of health and safety training. This is good news, considering virtual and online training looks like it is here to stay; making up a substantial part of the training landscape.

For their study, IWH partnered with three training providers—Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, Public Services Health and Safety Association, and Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS). The study compared knowledge evaluation scores of participants who completed Joint Health and Safety Certification Part 1 training from three modes of training: face-to-face, in-person classroom training; synchronous, instructor-led, online training (e.g., using a platform such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet); and self-paced, online eLearning modules. Results showed that evaluation scores from all three modes hovered around 75% (give or take a few percentage points), which tells us that knowledge achievement was equally successful in all three modes. So, now that we know online learning is just as effective as in-person, how can we get the most out of our virtual training?

Engagement is key: 5 tips for online learning

“Whether it’s online or in-person, it comes down to engagement,” says Ted Balazs, Health and Safety Consultant with WSPS. Ted has extensive experience training both in-person and virtually. He explains how instructors had to adapt quickly when training shifted to virtual classrooms. “In a traditional classroom, I walk around the room and interact with the participants to keep them engaged in the discussion. When it’s a virtual classroom and everyone is on a screen, you have to use different methods to keep participants involved,” he says. He recommends these best practices for employers and employees to get the most out of their virtual training and eLearning experience.

  1. Keep your camera on. “For virtual training, we need to be able to see each other as we’re speaking, so I’ll remind participants of this periodically during the course,” says Ted. He also points out that most training is capped at around 20 participants for this reason. “As an instructor, I want to be able to see everyone on my screen and speak with them, so you need a manageable number of participants for that.”
  2. Find a place where you will not be distracted. “Ideally, virtual participants are sitting at a desk in a quiet room with the door closed. I would say the same for someone working through online eLearning modules,” says Ted. Schedule time away from your regular responsibilities, so that you will not be interrupted.
  3. Make sure employees are comfortable with the technology, particularly if they will be completing virtual training or eLearning at home. Do a test run before the course to make sure all equipment and software is in working order, and review the main features of the platform. “Online training and meeting platforms have become quite good and easy to use, particularly with features like chat and breakout rooms,” says Ted. Ensuring that employees are familiar with them will avoid frustration during the course.
  4. Don’t skip ahead. This is particularly important when working through eLearning modules. Regular interaction and proven instructional design principles are used to keep participants engaged in the program and to help them understand the content. If you skip sections and try to go straight to the test, you could miss things and may find it more difficult to retain or recall information.
  5. Participate. As with any learning, those who keep an open mind, have a positive attitude, and actively participate will get the most out of it. Ask questions, get involved in discussions, and complete all the assigned activities.

How WSPS can help

WSPS offers a wide range of virtual, instructor-led courses and self-paced eLearning options.
Learn more about the study conducted by IWH.

The information in this article is accurate as of its publication date

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Categorized in: WSPS