As the world settles into its new ebb and flow, learning and development professionals are tasked with finding their footing while working with remote learners. To remain agile, L&D facilitators, instructional designers, and L&D directors must be able to design and conduct remote learning sessions that include learners who are fully remote or in a hybrid classroom. Whether you are struggling to find the balance while working with remote learners or have already found your stride, it’s always useful to learn some tips, tricks, and best practices for managing remote learners.
What Is Remote Learning?
Remote learning, also known as distance learning, places the learners, facilitator, classroom, or information source in different locations, rather than a single, physical classroom. To accommodate learning, information and instruction are relayed through technology using tools such as discussion boards, video conferencing, online assessments, and more. Unlike traditional classrooms, where most learners are required to learn at the same time and pace, remote learning often takes advantage of both synchronous learning and asynchronous learning. To accommodate remote learning, trainers and learners need to have a stable internet connection for most activities that take place online.
Challenges Trainers and Learners Face
While many enjoy the flexibility remote learning offers, there are some challenges linked to remote learning. Learners may struggle with issues like a distraction, lack of motivation, and a diminished sense of community. Some of the main issues instructors face are time management issues, challenges with getting learners to respond during live discussions, and tech glitches. We’ve gathered 5 tips to help you negotiate these challenges.
5 Tips to Help Manage Remote Learners
1. Make Learning Interactive
Today’s learners are used to multitasking, and they might unintentionally check out while attending a session. Design activities that require learners to interact with you or each other. This can be done via discussion, answering simple questions, or fulfilling low-stakes assignments. Doing so assures that learners are accountable for their own learning.
Microlearning refers to the practice of breaking down large chunks of information into small, digestible moments for learners to consume while not in a live session. To make the most of microlearning opportunities, focus on microlearning design that includes short videos, infographics, and diagnostic quizzes that are easy to complete quickly. Other qualities of successful microlearning strategies include tailoring each session to a single and specific topic.
3. Rethink how you give instructions
When in a physical classroom, it’s easy to see how learners respond to instructions and if they find them confusing. While remote, you cannot read the room in the same manner and cannot assess how learners respond to your instructions. In addition, you cannot assume how comfortable different learners are with various technologies. Consider creating how-to instruction manuals to help keep everyone on the same page. As you design your how-to’s, also consider how your various learners might best ingest the information. While some might find instructional videos beneficial, others might find a printed how-to manual to be most useful to follow.
4. Implement synchronous and asynchronous activities
One of the benefits of remote learning is that learners can work on their own time. Use this to your advantage by planning some activities that learners can do on their own, asynchronously, and choosing when you want learners to engage with others, synchronously. Providing learners with a flexible schedule to complete their assignments gives them a sense of control over their learning. At the same time, asking them to participate in some group activities provides a sense of community, which can be equally important in remote settings.
5. Provide digital and hard copies of materials
When designing an online course, it’s tempting to dump all your resources into an online file and hope your learners will do what they need to with that information. However, does doing so accommodate all learners? How are you putting your learners at a disadvantage by providing only one way of accessing materials? To assure all learners have equal access to materials, plan on uploading resources to a singular online platform and provide them with hard copies as well. Consider partnering with an online print vendor that can print and ship the course materials to your learners wherever they are. In addition, you want to ensure that your content is secure and cannot be accessed by outside sources. Mimeo Digital is a safe online platform to power your digital corporate content.
Easing into Remote Learning Strategies
Like any new learning approach, you need to account for implementation time and make room for trial and error. As you test and experiment with new approaches, make note of how long it took to use each strategy and how they offered new learning experiences. Reflecting on what is and isn’t working will help you remain responsive to learners’ needs no matter where they’re located. Learn how Mimeo helps trainers and L&D professionals stay flexible in a changing corporate learning environment.