When is the last time you did a bit of eLearning? Chances are it was very recent. In the past couple of days, have you consulted your cell phone for directions to a destination? Did you read a news article or a work email on a computer screen? Maybe you learned how to change your car’s burnt out taillight from a YouTube video, or watched an online lecture as part of your coursework to complete that MBA.
The truth is eLearning is transformational in its ubiquity and flexibility, bringing with it profound benefits for the learner as well as the content developer.
I recently had an opportunity to talk about eLearning with Amy Acherman, CPI’s Director of Research and Development. Our interview begins with the history of eLearning, puts forth a profile of the modern learner, details the many benefits of eLearning, defines concepts like microlearning, and finally discusses the considerations that influenced the development of Flex
(an acronym for “flexible learning experience”), the new blended eLearning option for delivering CPI’s Nonviolent Crisis Intervention®
Definition and history of eLearning
What exactly is eLearning? At the top of the interview, Amy clarifies how broadly the definition can be applied. “Well, first, I'd like to just define eLearning because I know this is a term that’s used a lot, but people can often be confused. So, really, eLearning is any learning conducted through electronic media. Often we think of the Internet or computer-based training. And it has evolved with the advancement of technologies,” says Amy.
Amy describes the many tech venues that make eLearning possible, including:
Meet the modern learner
- social media
- CDs or DVDs
- MOOCs (massive online open course)
- and more
A profile of the modern learner is key to understanding why eLearning has evolved into such a powerful form of communication.
“Bersin by Deloitte really did a great infographic. I love this infographic, and they did a research study called 'Meet the Modern Learner
.' Here are some facts that people probably don’t know that I'd like to share,” explains Amy.
Some important facts to consider about the modern learner:
Why eLearning is attractive to organizations
- The modern learner is online 27 times a day.
- Workers get interrupted as frequently as every 5 minutes.
- Two-thirds of knowledge workers complain they don’t have enough time to do their jobs.
- People unlock their smartphones an average of 9 times every hour.
- Most won’t watch a video longer than 4 minutes.
- Four generations are now working together and over that span they have become autonomous, interactive, and non-linear logic-type learners.
There are many reasons why organizations now blend eLearning with more traditional forms of training, including a critical metric from an evidenced-based evaluation of its effectiveness. “I'd often cite the study the U.S. Department of Labor did in 2010. They evaluated evidence-based practices of online learning. And they looked at thousands of studies between 1996 and 2008, and these were experimental and quasi-experimental studies . . . What they found in their metadata analysis of these thousands of studies is that those who did the online or blended actually performed better on average than those getting the same materials face-to-face,” says Amy.
Photo: skynesher / iStock
Amy cites a study of health care professionals by the Relias and May Institutes that concluded that learners retained as much as 30% more in a blended learning scenario.
In addition to the science that shows that blended learning is better retained than traditional or classroom learning, several other attributes make it attractive to organizations:
CPI’s Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® Flex delivery option
- Rapid changes in business and organizations means that everyone needs to constantly be learning.
- eLearning provides the flexibility for employees to learn and refresh.
- eLearning provides multiple opportunities for employees to share knowledge and resources.
- eLearning provides on-demand opportunities that employees can select in short time frames or as mobile options (including just-in-time and microlearning aspects of eLearning).
During the interview, Amy talks about CPI’s eLearning strategy and the development and implementation of the new Flex delivery option
, which has its roots in an early CPI blended learning program known as Hybrid.
“We've seen that learners’ needs have changed, and organizational needs have changed. Obviously, it's the same constraints. We need to get more people through training. We have less time to take staff off the floor and less time to actually do the training. We see that there is a need for learners to have augmented their knowledge prior to getting into the classroom,” says Amy.
According to Amy, Certified Instructors will appreciate the Flex delivery option because it will give learners an opportunity to become familiar with key concepts and terms that are central to Nonviolent Crisis Intervention®
training before they ever set foot in the classroom.
Because learners will come to the classroom with this knowledge, Certified Instructors will have the latitude to focus more intently on other important aspects of the training. “With Nonviolent Crisis Intervention®
Flex [training], the Certified Instructor is really spending their time in the classroom on the application, so they can practice some of those things maybe they don’t get to when they're teaching the term definitions. So we can practice our paraverbals more. We can practice our nonverbal communication and the verbal intervention skills. We have more activities that are provided so you can actually engage the class in more discussion and more practice,” explains Amy.
Just how flexible is Flex?
The Flex option provides some up-front instruction for Nonviolent Crisis Intervention®
training participants. But how flexible is it, really? Amy reassures. “It's actually very flexible. So just like with our classroom training, again, we have broken it down so that all the key concepts that they need to learn will be in that online portion, in that two to three hours. So if you need to spend more time on your physical skills or more time on the verbal interventions, you can build in that time. Because again, you're not really going through and repeating, here's the definition of this word, or here's how we use kinesics. They already come with that knowledge.”
Along with giving Certified Instructors the flexibility to make their training as memorable as possible, Amy is quick to point out the impact of Flex to an organization’s bottom line. “You really want to look at that online option because it really will be more cost effective for you. Things that don’t get put into training costs often are travel, time off the floor, things like even you have to feed them when they're in those training classes, and sometimes hotel accommodations. There's renting out space. There's a lot of things that come into play,” says Amy.
As Director of Research and Development at CPI, Amy Acherman provides leadership oversight as well as hands-on effort to advance the creation of CPI training programs. A positive, creative professional with a passion to help develop others, she makes it her mission to implement creative solutions and strategies that meet the evolving needs of our customers.
Prior to CPI, Amy was a learning and organizational development leader and consultant for a global workforce solutions company with expertise in learning program design, change management, facilitation, and process improvement. She has a double master’s degree from Alverno College in Organizational Development and Instructional Design, and a BA in Behavioral Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Amy was recently named one of Training
magazine’s 2016 Emerging Training Leaders. When she is not creating new programs, Amy travels with her husband and daughter, enjoying hiking, boating, games, and sometimes, just quiet time, relaxing with her cat.
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