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5 digital learnings lessons for 2021

We recently attended OEB — Here's our digital learning predictions for 2021. 

It’s safe to say that 2020 has brought an incredible shift to just about every industry, but one of the hardest hit sectors by the impacts of COVID-19 was education. For billions around the world it meant pivoting to a completely new all-digital or mostly-digital model of learning. Suffice to say, there were many growing pains along the way.

Students and teachers alike had to quickly move to an unfamiliar style of learning with little to no preparation. And for companies like ours that help facilitate adult learning, the traditional in-person training events vanished overnight and were instead replaced with the digital formats that we’ve now grown all too familiar with.

A situation we all hoped would only be temporary is now looking like a long-term reality. As we enter the new year, the continued reliance on digital technology to drive education shows no signs of slowing down. It’s time to take a closer look at how we can apply the lessons learned over the past 10 months into the upcoming year and beyond.

In that vein, several Quadmarkers recently attended the OEB Global Virtual Experience and listened to industry leaders across the corporate, education and public service sectors discuss the current learning reality and what’s to come. 

Take a look at the 5 lessons that we think will shape the new normal of digital learning.

1. Eliminate the barriers to engagement for online learning

To conduct more engaging virtual classes, we need to go back to the basics of pedagogy, and keep the following tenets in our mind before planning any virtual engagement:

  • Finding ways to create learning platforms that provide the closest replica of the in-person experience.
  • Follow the AGES model:

AGES Model of learning. Grab the attention, generate connection, feel the emotion, apply spacing.


2. Ensure effective feedback in learning 

This one is so important — tech plays an important role in eliminating barriers associated with formative assessment. Using quizzes can help learners understand how they’re doing and where they’re going. It will act not just as a knowledge check in the end, but will also aid as a tool to help them pause and reflect on what they've learned, and guide them through the learning journey.

Silhouette cartoon of a person talking about YouTube, instant messaging, news articles, and soap operas to demonstrate examples of digital fatigue.

3. Provide users with active learning tools

The amount of hours logged in front of a screen this year has risen incredibly, to say the least. Now that we use our computers for just about everything from work-related content to social activities and more, finding a way to deliver learning in an engaging way that stands out from the rest is critical. One way to combat digital learning fatigue is to provide users with active learning tools.

Station rotation is one example of providing active learning tools in a blended learning environment. This is a method used by nursery teachers where many different stations are set up for pupils to move between and ‘take’ what they want from the material in terms of learning. Are we applying child education techniques to adult learning? You betcha! 

In lieu of one type of learning format, we recommend using a multitude of tools that end users can pick and choose from to best suit their needs and learning styles. When there are a variety of materials to choose from, students have the autonomy to decide for themselves, and are empowered and motivated to fully digest the learnings. For example, there can be a blend of pre-recorded videos, live training events, slide decks and/or short boost cards that users can choose from. Rather than having it fed to them in one format, this independence helps learners engage with the type of learning that works best for them.

4. Adopt a holistic approach

Think of the whole learning experience and consider the student experience from the get-go. While the initial jump to online learning was fast and furious, we’ve now had nearly a year of practice.

It is imperative to put a holistic and thoughtful approach into designing your courses, so that they best suit students' learning needs. Always work towards inclusiveness, make sure end-users are considered and where possible, include them in the conversation and development.

Person holding up their paint covered hand and smiling after a tactile based learning activity.

5. Supplement digital offerings with tactile elements

While an online learning experience will never quite be the same as face-to-face learning, there are certain elements that help bring some personalized analog style into the digital world. One way to connect with learners in a virtual learning environment is to supplement the digital offerings with some tactile elements.

For example, a clay-making kit to inspire some in-real life (IRL) creations might not have a direct connection with the training or course, but it can be used to inspire something entirely new. This activity can double as an in-depth ice breaker to help familiarize students with teachers, trainers and one another. It may even tie into the learning. Either way, it’s a great way to bring an additional layer of interest and interactivity into the virtual classroom.

While 2020 has taught us all A LOT about online learning, there are plenty more lessons to be learned in 2021. With so much experience under our belts, there are sure to be more exciting innovations in the world of digital learning this upcoming year and beyond.

We hope these lessons help you better understand and engage with your audience, and continue to provide interactive and informative content to your students. 

Get in touch for more creative ideas for educating your employees and customers virtually, and for help with implementing the most effective digital learning initiatives in 2021.

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