There has been a steady increase in online educational offerings where people can learn on their own time and in the comfort of their own home. When the pandemic hit, the demand for online learning hit a new peak. This has created the perfect environment for Henrik Mondrup’s book: Achieving Change: A practical guide to online courses for workplace learning, a handbook for developing online courses that engage learners in a meaningful and memorable way.
Having obtained a bachelor’s degree in education science and a master’s in IT and learning, Henrik has helped many organizations develop and improve their e-learning programs and online courses. He has also designed online courses for the likes of Henley Business School and the Fairstart Foundation, a nonprofit based in his native Denmark. He is a sought-after international speaker.
Be sure to tune in to our podcast episode with Henrik, where we talk about the changing nature of online learning and achieving change in the workforce through engaged learners. As always, remember to share, subscribe, rate and review our podcast. Read on for the major take-aways from our conversation.
Developing knowledge with practical applications
Henrik saw that most online courses follow what he calls “petrol pump pedagogy”: the idea of filling the student’s head with knowledge but not connecting that knowledge to its practical applications or facilitating reflection on what they’ve learned. Especially for the workplace, this kind of learning isn’t of much use: after all, the point of completing extra courses in the workplace is to gain knowledge and skills and then apply this to the job. So, Henrik designed his own method for developing e-learning programmes.
Five steps to develop an e-learning program
To develop your own e-learning program, Henrik suggests following five important steps.
Step 1: Understand how the brain works.
The foundation for designing your course is knowing how people learn. We learn in different ways. While repeating a new piece of knowledge over and over until it sticks is certainly a way of learning, it’s not the most effective. Transformative learning is more successful because it allows the learner to critically examine the new knowledge and to essentially undergo a paradigm shift. We also learn through experience and socially, sharing our knowledge with one another. When you know how you can integrate that into the course activities for a more effective outcome.
Step 2: Initiate course development.
To design an effective course, you need to know what you’re working towards. You need to know what the learning goals are. Then you need to look for ways to reach those learning goals; what tools you can give the learners to help them apply what they’ve learned in practice; and ways to help them reflect on what they’ve learned, what happened when they applied that knowledge, and what they can improve on in the future.
Step 3: Engage the learner.
This step is where you get down to the nitty-gritty. You need to find ways of engaging and motivating the learner. Henrik takes a 70/20/10 approach when designing online courses for engaged learners:
- 70 percent of learning should be through hands-on experience and on-the-job training.
- 20 percent of learning should be social, through group work activities and learning in collaboration with others.
- 10 percent of learning should be through courseware instruction using the educational materials provided.
Figuring out ways to follow this 70/20/10 approach can yield some creative inclusions. For our Foundations of Memoir Masterclass, for example, we did not conceive of the “students” as being part of a group but rather individual learners working totally independently and at their own pace. The 20 percent of social/group learning that Henrik recommends has us exploring ways to incorporate quizzes that would allow participants to see how other people answered the same question.
Ethos, Pathos, Logos
There are different ways to engage the learner through verbal and non-verbal expressions. There are also the tried-and-tested modes of persuasion that the Greek philosopher Aristotle identified over 2,400 years ago:
- Ethos: the appeal to authority. Here you need to convince the learner that you know what you’re talking about.
- Pathos: the appeal to emotions. Here, you need to create an emotional response in the learner. For example, you can describe a positive future scenario if the learner uses the new knowledge and, in this way, you create a sense of hope in them.
- Logos: the appeal to logic. Here you use facts and figures to support your argument.
Step 4: Writing the scripts and making the videos.
You now need to write the material that you want to teach, develop it into a script and then record your videos. Henrik recommends using a teleprompter for this to help you remember all the content that you want to include. Video is one of the best ways to capture engaged learners. You can also use tools like illustrations and role-plays to get the information across.
Step 5: Assessment for learning.
The traditional method of assessment is to test the learner on what they’ve learned, known as a summative assessment, because it focuses on scoring the learner’s knowledge. It’s essentially about looking back.
Henrik believes that assessment should look forward. It should guide the learner towards better results by helping them reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, and identifying areas in which to improve. This kind of formative assessment is more effective for workplace learning because it lets the learner focus on how they will apply their new knowledge in a practical setting. Instead of telling them what they should do, they work out for themselves what they need to do.
Henrik envisions a future in which meaningful, online learning lies in the power of AI, or artificial intelligence, to create a personal learning experience for each learner, tailored to their learning goals. Achieving Change: A practical guide to online courses for workplace learning lays the foundation for this to be a reality in the near future.