As the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause uncertainty for businesses and organizations, employees are coming to grips with an unfamiliar work life. For many, the typical work day is punctuated with new challenges: time-outs for home schooling children; navigating the complexities of sharing a work space with a spouse or partner; ensuring the household’s basic needs are met.

In some places, that struggle even extends to an inability to secure the necessities, including housing, food, and water.

The stress caused by health scares, employment anxiety, and, in many cases, added job responsibilities, can leave the most resilient employees feeling at their wits’ end.

As L&D professionals begin to rethink their learning strategy for this new environment, they are increasingly relying on digital learning tools. For the leadership development and training of these newly remote employees, not only are online courses and other digital solutions efficient; they are the only options available right now.

But getting a return from digital learning requires more than just a library full of content on the company intranet. Especially in times of crisis, consider these 6 ways to maximize the effectiveness of a digital learning initiative. While we developed these 6 strategies for our original white paper before the current crisis, we think these principles still apply and, in fact, are more relevant than ever right now.

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6 Strategies for Digital Learning Success

1. Embrace the “less is more” principle for online learning.

Right now, many of your people are probably feeling panicked with the chaotic and uncertain state of their home and work lives. What they need is good advice and curation. They don’t need to be shown 10,000 available titles; instead, they need a prescription.

If you have a group that is dealing with immense change and stress, a short, daily dose of video-based learning on resilience tactics could be the right medicine. It will show them you care and can be effective with fewer than 10 minutes a day.

2. Enlist help communicating the plan.

Normally when organizations embark upon a digital learning initiative, it’s important that they gain communications support from the C-suite. But under the current circumstances, your C-suite is probably hard to reach.

If you are a CLO, consider writing a short, heartfelt letter to your organization about the digital options they need to learn and upskill at this time. If you are not the CLO, prepare a short draft email and share it with your senior-most leader to send out to the org.

To help your learners stay focused, tie this communication with Strategy #1 by directing learners to specific pieces of content and explaining why each piece is relevant.

Remember that in a time of crisis, more communication is always better than less. A weekly or monthly email from Learning and Development wouldn’t be out of line. At CCL, we have used this downtime to upskill ourselves heavily, starting with a resilience course that we rolled out to a large part of our organization.

Infographic: 6 Recommendations for Successful Digital Learning Initiatives

3. Make leaders into teachers.

The best way to learn something is to teach it. We know this from our personal lives, and CCL brings it to the professional world with intentionality. For example, we revamped our ultra-popular workshop kits (which some of our clients lovingly call “a workshop in a box”) to work for a fully live online audience. With tools like this at their fingertips, you can put your leaders into “teaching mode” with all the tools they need to succeed at delivering a short, skills-oriented workshop.

4. Use learner-centered design.

Learner-centered design, also known as “learning in the flow of work,” takes your learners’ context into consideration. What does your learner’s day look like right now? Can they invest a full day in a live, online training? Probably not – but could they do 4 hours? Quite likely. After delivering hundreds of customized virtual programs for clients around the world, we designed our Live Online programs to be 4 hours.

We take a break every hour so that our learners can stretch and get a fresh cup of coffee or tea.

And during our moderated online experiences, an expert responds within 24 hours so that each learner has the freedom to learn anytime in their day. The next day, they come back knowing that their leadership guru has reviewed their submissions and provided expert advice — or asked some coaching questions to further their thinking.

5. Tap into the power of learning partnerships.

Right now, your employees may be feeling more alone than they have ever felt. With any training that you do, tap into the power of learning partnerships. When it’s a part of the training, there is a reason to meet. After they meet the first time, they will find more reasons to stay connected.

As everyone is working from home, it may seem counterintuitive, but now is the time to connect your global employee pool in learning partnerships like never before.

Peer accountability partners can motivate learners to try out new behaviors. Coaches can provide feedback and advice as learners figure out how to apply new skills and ideas.

6. Remember to measure.

Measurement provides data that can be used to refine and strengthen ongoing digital learning efforts. Metrics, including participation and outcomes, should be built in during the design of the learning initiative.

When this crisis ends, you’ll want to share what you did to keep the learning fire alive.

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Leadership skills are more important now than ever before. Learn how our online leadership programs can help your leaders ignite transformational change and navigate the crisis of the moment while preparing for the changed world that comes next.

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