Humans are social by nature and as such, they prefer the company of others. Especially when they need to expand their knowledge and tackle complex tasks, such as achieving a certification or building skill mastery. Participating in online training activities as a group reduces the workload since they are able to distribute the work and share the experience. However, cultivating a thriving online learning community goes beyond collaboration. Every member must feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves, which gives them a sense of belonging and increases motivation. Here are 7 tips to foster a supportive online learning community in your online training course.
7 Ways To Cultivate A Supportive Learning Community
1. Understand Corporate Learners’ Needs And Expectations
The only way you can create a supportive online learning community is by understanding what your corporate learners require. Every employee has unique expectations regarding the online learning community. For example, some may take a more hands-on approach and are looking for daily interactions with remote peers. Or they want to participate in frequent live online training events to feel more connected to their co-workers. You can learn more about your employees by conducting surveys and pre-assessments on the corporate learners. This allows you to determine their interests and what they expect from the online training program, as well as the online learning community as a whole.
2. Select The Best Online Collaboration Platform
Online collaboration is very important in establishing a supportive online learning community. As such, you need to pick the right online collaboration platform for the job. Corporate eLearning blogs, social media channels, and online discussions are some of the online collaboration platforms that organizations can opt for. Corporate learners expect their interactions to be safe and secure. This is something that you have to consider when picking the platforms for online collaboration. Corporate eLearning blogs are much more secure, since members have to sign in to post their comments. Social media handles are great for sharing media. You can also create a closed social media group to keep communications more private. Another option is eLearning Project Management platforms. Employees have the power to assign tasks, access a group calendar, and communicate directly with their peers.
3. Create Communication Guidelines
Where several people are gathered, tensions are likely to soar. Differences in opinions tend to get people all worked up, and without some ground rules, differences may turn into conflicts. To prevent this from happening, organizations should set the rules of engagement and share them with corporate learners. The rules should stipulate how members will communicate with each other when discussing issues on the online collaboration platform. They should also indicate which behaviors/content is not allowed, as well as the penalties for violating the rules. This could be a temporary ban for minor offenses and expulsion from the online training program for repeat offenders. Lastly, highlight the measures of conflict resolution. Such rules will ensure that employees engage positively with each other instead of letting misunderstandings stand in the way.
4. Identify Community Leaders In Online Discussions
Since there will be rules that govern how corporate learners interact with each other, there must be a leader who will enforce those rules. Such leaders are not just enforcement officers but are responsible for leading online discussions, in addition to solving conflicts among members. They can privately talk to conflicting members and maintain a supportive online learning community. Community leaders are also tasked with hosting regular meetings with corporate learners so as to enlighten them on the upcoming online training courses and get their feedback on the online training courses offered. Being a community leader is not an easy task and, as such, the position should be voluntary. Those who feel up to the task can express their interest. Then seek the backing of the members before taking up the role of a community leader.
5. Ask For eLearning Feedback
eLearning feedback is a win-win. You get the valuable user data you need to improve your eLearning course design, while corporate learners have the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns. Inviting their eLearning feedback also lets them know their thoughts and ideas matter. That your organization cares about their input and wants to include them in the eLearning development process. One of the best ways to gather eLearning feedback is to conduct focus groups. Select a team of corporate learners and host a lively online discussion. Or you can opt for social media polls to gather more data and get everyone in on the action.
6. Start An Online Mentorship Program
Pair less experienced corporate learners with those who can mentor them and provide one-on-one guidance. The mentor will also benefit from the skills and talents of their mentee. For example, they may not be as tech-savvy as their counterpart. Thus, the mentee can help them learn the nuances of IT in exchange for the valuable advice provided by their mentor. Create teams based on personal interests, goals, and personality traits to ensure a smooth collaboration.
7. A Supportive Corporate eLearning Culture Lays The Foundation For A Supportive Online Learning Community
The last tip is arguably the most important. One of the most common mistakes organizations make when fostering an online learning community is forgetting about the mindset. You need a supportive corporate eLearning culture on which to build the online learning community. Corporate learners must understand the value of ongoing professional development and the need to respect others’ viewpoints.
A supportive online learning community amplifies the benefits of your online training course by offering corporate learners a solid framework. They feel like they’re part of the group, instead of outsiders who are doing it alone. This can also increase their motivation and facilitate emotional connection.