2020 has put the effectiveness of online learning under the spotlight. The time is right to move the conversation forward.

Online learning is nothing new, but the impact of Covid-19 on schools and the tertiary sector has brought it into stark relief. As educators at all levels scramble to transfer curriculums online and parents are forced to add ‘teacher’ to their skillset with little in the way of preparation or notes, there’s a lot of concern (led by government) about ‘falling behind’.

The question shouldn’t be how quickly can we revert to traditional learning, but how do we ensure learning effectiveness isn’t dependent on the delivery method? After all, the shape of learning and development has changed immensely in the last 20 years. As with everything it has become more digitally focused. Pandemic or not, this question around delivery needs to be asked to ensure the continued relevance of online education. And interactive video provides an answer.

At its core, e-learning is the technological evolution of distance learning. Except it’s not just students in remote areas who benefit, education is now more accessible to anyone. We see this in the emergence of ‘micro-learning’, where professionals seek to quickly bridge skills and knowledge gaps—micro-learning itself is digitally driven, making it easier to upskill without having to negotiate the logistics of on-campus lessons around work commitments. Even most traditional qualifications now supplement face-to-face learning with online delivery.

The limitation of e-learning comes when it’s little more than a transference of coursework from books to online, a fairly rudimentary digital shift. Video, when it’s utilised, usually just means recording a lesson or lecture and sticking it on the intranet.

The problem with this approach is that you cannot replicate in-person learning by just removing the person. Education without the ability to pose questions or engage in discussion is a poor facsimile of the real thing. Taking an active experience and turning it into a passive one disadvantages students and provides little in the way of feedback for the educator.

Interactive video helps bridge this gap by giving students the option to access additional in-video information, ask questions of their teacher, participate in polls, respond to quizzes and download additional resources. For children at primary and secondary levels—digital natives who grew up jabbing at screens—this is especially important. Schools can better connect with these generations by adopting the usability standards they’re accustomed to—that is, through video where there’s a two-way engagement, the same way they experience with video games. Anything less just doesn’t make sense to them. It’s what they know.

Example of interactive L&D video

Interactive video makes the student experience instantly richer and equips the educator with the tools to generate data to truly gauge learning effectiveness. That data is key to not only getting positive student outcomes, but optimising delivery methods and course structures. Being able to identify what works (and what doesn’t) is the foundation of any kind of organisation that’s serious about success. For educational institutions, an innovative and engaging delivery that produces exceptional student results is critical in the business of building a reputation that attracts enrolments.

Incredible things can be achieved with online learning. It would be foolish to think that the risk of ‘falling behind’ is anything more than a result of formulating a hasty (and very necessary) response to unprecedented circumstances. But through our collective experience and the lessons learned, we should actively look to adopt strategies and delivery methods to make learning and development truly effective for a digital age. Lockdown or no lockdown.

By Aleksandra Harsic

Enterprise Account Director, ANZ