We live in a time where much of the information we need in our daily lives is available on demand through one-touch access to the Internet.  This is in turn is causing many of us to expect similar instant access to work-related information anytime, anywhere. Since we are used to having this vast array of resources and knowledge available constantly at our fingertips, it comes as little surprise to find that a growing trend in professional education today is the use of on-demand or self-paced learning.

You may have already heard about the flipped classroom or Khan Academy concepts, which embody one form of a self-paced learning.  In these models, learners listen to lectures and read classroom texts and home while completing assignments in the classroom (under the guidance of an instructor).  In other words, homework and lectures are “flipped,” allowing learners to take in material at their own pace and maximize time spent with their instructors. But how can we go even further to extend such self-paced learning in the workplace? We want to increasingly meet our learners’ desires for on-demand information, but still retain a high quality educational experience.

Here are some of pieces of advice I recommend for organizations that plan to implement or already embrace on-demand professional training:

  • Use this as an opportunity to see what kind of educational media your learners like most.  If learners prefer to watch videos or listen to podcasts when learning on their own time, find a way to integrate more of that content into your courses.
  • Learners with on-the-go lifestyles will appreciate being able to access their education wherever they may be, whether that is on the road for a business trip or at the end of their busy day.  Providing a wide variety of mobile learning capabilities can greatly enhance their learning experience.
  • For instructors, self-paced learning allows you to see which learners have the initiative to stay on task or even excel forward with their education plan.  For those learners who seem less engaged, find ways to improve their experience by offering a wide variety of supplemental opportunities, and follow up with an in-person discussion about ways to help them stay on task.
  • Since self-paced learners will be in different places in the curriculum at different times, there will be many unique opportunities for collaboration.  Find ways to match up students with different strengths so they can learn from one another and work as a team towards common goals.

Of course, I think Blackboard is the ideal partner for organizations that want to learn more about the ways on-demand training can improve learning outcomes.  Check out our website to learn more, and leave us a comment about the ways your organization is already getting the most out of on-demand learning.

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