Webinars on Steroids: Online learning continues to evolve!
In the late 90’s it seemed like a good idea to offer online learning; it was not the case. Low attendance, minimal interest, and cancelled courses were the outcome. Technologies were just not there yet, nor were participants.
Over a decade later, it’s time. MEA has seen a steady increase in online participation at our online briefings, (1 hour speaker-format presentations). Over 50% of those who have attended this year chose to attend online over in-person.
Consider why the popularity now vs. the past. First, MEA’s audience is more comfortable. The onslaught of hand held devices (thank you Mr. Jobs), increased usage of social media (thank you Mr. Zuckerberg), and a younger generation entering the workforce (thank you Boomer Moms and Dads) all have contributed to this ease. And, even the Baby Boomers themselves, who parented the technology natives, are opting for staying at their desks. The second reason online learning makes sense now, is merely due to the advances in the technology itself. There are less hiccups and more functionality allowing us to emulate a live classroom.
According to ASTD, Organizations are increasingly implementing the use of technology, and methods such as mobile learning continue to gain popularity. After a slight dip in 2010 to 33 percent, technology-based methods have rebounded to account for 37.3 percent of formal hours available across all learning methods.
Today there are multiple platforms with features that add to the online experience like: Goto Meeting, Webex & Adobe Connect. Trainers including myself are able to facilitate robust discussions with 15 people at time. Webcams beam their images across screens capturing facial expressions and body language. Role-playing becomes a possibility as 2 webcams go up, 13 go down. Those remaining conduct a one-on-one coaching conversation using the skills just learned in class. Whiteboards can be pulled up as virtual flip charts; participants can be split into multiple groups to carry on multiple discussions, then meet back in the main room for review. It’s a webinar on steroids; everyone participates.
MEA has adopted this highly interactive approach that allows for in-depth learning in Cyber Workshops. Two member companies, driven by logistical needs, led the way. MEA partnered with them to develop a solution. One company a manufacturer of food products had multiple plants across the country, the other a construction company had individual managers dispersed across several states. This format proved to be ideal for both companies. They were able to create a consistent message across the company’s population.
First step was to convert MEA’s classroom content into a customized, online series for both companies. There were 8 online sessions, 90 minutes each utilizing all the bells and whistles of our chosen platform Adobe Connect. Covering topics that included Motivation, DiSC Theory, Coaching & Fundamentals of Management, those attending were able to achieve the same outcomes as if in a live class room. There was transfer of training. In one specific case, a participant practiced the 5-STEP Delegation Process with one of his employees. The outcome: he developed an employee and saved himself 3 hours a week, or 106 hours a year. That’s about 2. 5 work weeks!
Will classroom training go away? No, nor do we want it to; however, one thing we know is that online learning is an effective alternative for learning that is here to stay and can only improve as technology and our savvy advances.
MEA will be offering the Level I Advantage Management Series in the first quarter of 2014 as a public series. Employees across our membership will be able to register for Cyber Workshops. Standard webinar fair this is NOT, MEA is now able to give you high quality learning without the travel.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://meainfo.org/app/uploads/2014/01/marian-vallotton.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Marian VallottonDirector of Training & Organizational Developmentmvallotton@meainfo.org[/author_info] [/author]