Here are some tips for making distance learning more effective.
Go for glitz. Bells, whistles, music and silliness keep students’ attention from wandering.
Go “live.” If there’s a choice between instructor-led, live training and prerecorded sessions, pick the live version. It’s more engaging and immediate.
Make sure it’s interactive. There should be a forum for questioning the instructor and chatting with other students, and there should be frequent quizzes and simulations. Avoid packages that are merely a book on a screen.
Get follow-up materials. Be sure reference materials are included, and make sure there’s a way for students to have their questions answered after the course is over.
Customize it. Some vendors allow companies to integrate education packages into company intranets. That makes it easier for employees to log on, and it’s easier to present classes as a company perk.
Schedule it. Only the most self-motivated employees will take courses on their own time, at their own initiative. Schedule a time during the workday for online education. Treat training as a meeting, and don’t allow interruptions.
Do not disturb. Instruct staff to turn off e-mail and pagers while class is in session. That may require arranging for coverage. Hang a “Do not disturb” sign on students’ work areas, or set up a designated area in the office for distance learning.