Online courses offer a number of benefits for the busy professional who needs to stay ahead of the changes and developments in their profession. The key is to look for courses that are engaging and interactive, get you touching the screen, allow you to develop relevant practical skills and then test those skills, challenge your thinking and involve you as part of a learning community. So how is this achieved through online training courses? A well developed online course will guide you through the three steps of the online learning hierarchy.
1. Explicit Learning
The first step in a well structured online course involves explicit learning, which is structured and conveys fundamental concepts and information. This information is delivered online using presentations, readings, audio, video and webpages. Online tests and quizzes are used to assess your level of knowledge and understanding of concepts, so that you can evaluate your own understanding and identify any gaps. This self-assessment means you take responsibility for your learning.
2. Applied learning
The next phase in a well crafted online Falvern involves applied learning where you develop your understanding of the subject matter by learning how to use techniques and strategies to practically apply your knowledge. Engaging the learner in scenarios, case studies and practical exercises is how we test practical understanding and applied learning. Practical exercises take you to the next level of implementing what you have learned. For example, in step 1, you completed the lesson on stakeholder analysis and passed the quiz. Now you develop your understanding further by completing a stakeholder analysis table based on the case study scenario included in the online course. This gets you thinking and – more importantly – doing. You have to identify the various stakeholders involved, make assessments about their level of interest and influence and make some decisions on how best to interact with these stakeholders. This is learning by doing and elevates you to a higher level of learning. With online courses you can do this at your own pace. You can take the time you need to reflect on the topic and develop well thought out analyses or approaches to a given situation.
3. Tacit learning
Meaningful learning is not done in isolation, so the third phase involves tacit learning, where you share your thinking and analysis with your online community of peers and colleagues. You can collaborate with and mentor each other, discuss, debate, explore and modify ideas or create new ideas. Online courses facilitate this type of interaction through the on-line community and forums for discussion, questions and answers, debates and wikis. Well structured online training is a powerful mechanism for discussing, interacting and collaborating with your professional peers. Through their wide reach and global nature online courses have the potential to introduce you to a much broader network of professionals with diverse ways of thinking. This in turn challenges and enhances your learning and moves you to the highest level of the online learning hierarchy.