If your business is in the early stages of growth, you’re likely aware that start ups often don’t have a structured way to develop employees. As a result, many employees learn and develop simply by doing. But leaving people to figure it out by themselves, especially when working remotely, can be a recipe for disaster.
Asynchronous learning offered through a learning platform, can help you create a more structured learning environment where employees can learn at their own pace and access the same training materials and resources as their peers. This is particularly beneficial in a remote environment.
In this article, we delve into why unstructured learning has its challenges, the benefits of a learning platform for remote teams, and six examples of asynchronous learning in action.
First up, why not investing in structured learning is a bad idea.
In an organisation with an unstructured learning approach, remote employees learn from the natural experiences and interactions they have. This might include on-the-job experiences and peer-to-peer interactions.
Examples of unstructured learning in an organisation include:
- Assigning a peer coach or shadowing experiences
- Creating knowledge bases
- Enabling job rotations
- Having an active online internal network and instant messaging to foster a culture where everyone helps each other
These all sound great, and can often result in deeper, more meaningful learning. But this unstructured learning can pose challenges for employee development:
- Lack of standardisation of processes: Standardising processes allows organisations to create a consistent and repeatable method for completing learning tasks or achieving a specific outcome. But in an unstructured learning environment, your processes may not be formalised. As a result, this can cause chaos.
- Lack of shared knowledge and communication across departments: When there’s a lack of standardisation within the workplace, there might not be a standardised process for sharing knowledge and communicating across departments.
For example, each department may be communicating different information or knowledge, or they may miss out on collaboration opportunities altogether. This can result in silos, lack of transversal knowledge, confusion, and counter-productive work.
- Lack of career support: When the learning process isn’t structured within your organisation, employees may feel like they’re on their own when it comes to their career development and that they don’t have the support they need to grow and develop their careers. This could make employees feel unmotivated or disengaged, which could lower morale and increase turnover rates.
- Too many live meetings for training: Not structuring the learning process within your company can result in too many live meetings that can be time-consuming and disruptive, resulting in limited reach and engagement. This stifles the chance to provide active participation and hands-on learning opportunities that can be more effective and make a bigger impact.
It’s true that every employee in every organisation should have both structured and unstructured learning. Unstructured learning adds an element of self-learning, enabling remote workers to become self-starters.
But every organisation, including startups, must implement structured learning so that employees have a consistent learning experience.
That’s why implementing a learning platform early on is a good idea in order to create one single source of truth. Here’s a variety of reasons why a learning platform can be advantageous for your remote team.
- People can learn at their own pace: Learning platforms give employees the freedom to learn at their own pace. This means that employees can study at a time that suits them. Learning management systems also reduce the need to travel to a place where in-person training is taking place, which is especially convenient for remote or distributed teams.
- You can collaborate with peers: A good learning platform facilitates collaborative learning. In a remote working environment, it can be difficult for employees to collaborate.
Platforms like 360Learning come equipped with collaborative learning features that allow employees to capture and exchange internal expertise, including videos, webinars, documents, wikis, social discussions, etc. Through these pieces of content, employees can share their experience and knowledge with each other.
- You can leave feedback on the content: You can use a learning platform to build online courses to train and educate your remote team. And the best part is, they can submit feedback on the LMS interface.
This helps to ensure that courses are useful and good quality. This enables you to iterate on your courses to improve them and allows you to more effectively use your resources to achieve a better ROI on your learning programs.
A big part of what makes learning platforms so valuable is that they enable asynchronous learning. Through asynchronous learning, employees can learn on their own schedules, within a certain timeframe, providing a greater level of flexibility. Here are six examples of asynchronous learning to get you started.
Open online courses
Open online courses give employees the chance to engage in the learning process at their convenience. Within these courses, there’s no real-time interaction between employees and their instructors. The content, is instead, available for them to consume at any time. Learning is self-paced and employees complete course modules on their own time.
These courses have many formats. For example, in a massive and open online course (MOOC), there’s no limit on attendance. On the other hand, a corporate open online course (COOC) is more private and better suited for a small community of employees. A small private open course is for even smaller groups within a company, featuring course content that’s best for a targeted audience.
A company wiki is a place where you can share, add, and update course material. Wikis provide a single source of truth, allowing your employees to search for content about company policies and processes.
In today’s world of remote work, company wikis can be a valuable tool in sharing institutional knowledge and promoting organisational learning. These living knowledge bases allow you to create content on the fly and keep it open for views and comments.
Asynchronous learning allows employees to interact with each other using discussion forums. Unlike chat apps and real-time messaging tools like Google Hangouts, asynchronous discussions give participants the opportunity to think about how to respond to or engage with other participants of the online course. When participants are able to think about how they’re going to respond, this builds a sense of community.
A more thoughtful response gives participants the chance to consider the perspectives of others, uses sources to support ideas, and learn from other participants. Employees can also engage with the original poster by tagging them. This allows employees to easily crowdsource answers, facilitating quick access to information and promoting knowledge sharing within the organisation.
Feedback can be very educational, especially when it comes from your peers. Through learning platforms, peers can provide feedback more frequently and in real-time. Because peers are closer in position and experiences, feedback can be more relatable, making it more specific and actionable.
Through asynchronous learning, peers can offer feedback in the form of comments, reviews, relevance scores, and updates. This can boost engagement and make room for a two-way learning environment where employees can become subject-matter experts and share their expertise.
When we learn new material and subject matter, we tend to forget it fairly quickly. But with asynchronous learning, employees can always come back to learning material to refresh their memory. Videos and pre-recorded webinars are easily accessible. Employees can access videos no matter their time zone and can rewatch them whenever they need to.
You can easily record, edit, or share videos and webinars to the relevant course page in yourlearning platform. Additionally, you can include questions and quizzes to make training videos more interactive. Employees can access these materials on their own time, which boosts learning and knowledge retention.
In any learning and development strategy, there should always be an element of fun. You can achieve this by gamifying learning material. Gamification can create a more engaging learning experience and better motivate employees.
It does this by breaking up the monotony of course material and providing incentives for employees to complete goals and objectives. For example, you can set up your learning platform to allow employees to receive rewards and achievements when they reach a certain learning milestone.
They can also compete with co-workers to earn badges, which helps foster a healthy and collaborative environment where employees engage in friendly competition.
We now have access to plenty of tools that promote collaborative learning in the workplace, even in a remote working environment.
Through synchronous learning, remote teams can engage with materials at the same time as their peers. On the other hand, asynchronous learning allows them to participate in courses on their own schedule without needing to meet at set times or locations. There’s a time and place for both. You can give your team the best of both worlds to maximize their learning experience.
At 360Learning, we can help you build a culture of peer-driven collaborative learning where every member of your team can upskill from within. Ready to see asynchronous learning in action? Speak to a digital learning specialist today.