Collaborative Web TrainingPractically from my first exposure to computer-based training, the "learn all on your lonesome" aspect has seemed problematic. Lots of others feel the same way, with the result that it is becoming routine for those who design e-training to incorporate mechanisms that encourage learners to interact with each other.
As just one example, William Horton's excellent guide, Designing Web-Based Training, devotes a chapter to promoting collaboration. As in the rest of the book (all 600+ pages), this chapter presents the issues to be considered in a thorough and accessible fashion. I particularly like his recommendation that you ...
Start simply, using just e-mail and discussion groups. Adopt the more advanced collaboration mechanisms, like videoconferencing and screen sharing, only after learners have mastered the simpler ones.Horton goes on to note, "Learners, designers, and instructors continually cite the discussion group as the best thing about a [Web-based] course."
Among the benefits of incorporating a discussion group in e-training:
- Enhanced learning — more coherent thinking and writing, more careful thought and reflection about the course content and about "test your understanding" questions.
- Learners feel connected to the instructor. This is important for facilitating exchanges that tap the instructor's experience and expertise.
- Learners feel closer to other learners, to the point that they often choose to continue the discussion group after the course has ended. This is important for promoting continuous learning and, in the case of a pre-existing team, for strengthening team cohesion.