By P. Daniel Birch
Training managers and online courseware designers agree that e-learning isn't appropriate for every topic. But e-learning also may not be the right fit for all types of learners. Here are some of the behaviors of a successful e-learner. Do you have them?
Much has been said about the impact e-learning has on content developers, trainers, and training managers. When the conversation turns to learners, attention focuses on the benefits of less travel and fewer hours spent away from jobs. However, those issues don't create an entire picture of how e-learning affects participants.
The industry needs to take a closer look at how learning behaviors might adapt in an online environment. In other words, how do the skills that serve learners well in a classroom or during on-the-job learning translate to self-paced and virtual collaboration learning experiences? Do learners need new competencies? Will an organization find that some of its employees have e-learning disabilities?
In general, three major factors influence an e-learner's success:
• management of the learning environment (self-directive competencies)
• interaction with the learning content (metacognitive competencies)
• interaction with virtual learning facilitators and classmates (collaboration competencies).
Self-advocacy. Managing the learning environment starts with self-advocacy, which means that learners decide whether the information being conveyed is something that they need to learn. Faced with a large catalog of training solutions, an e-learner must be able to identify and prioritize his or her personal skill gaps. Honest self-reflection, as well as the use of objective diagnostic assessments, can help identify basic or root training needs. For example, a person who needs training on project management software may need to start his or her development by learning basic project planning concepts.