The 10 best eLearning methods and formats
Be it video training, mobile learning, podcasts or MOOCs—digital learning that you can undertake wherever you are offers countless advantages if you have a busy professional life. However, the multitude of learning methods can quickly become confusing. We present the 10 most effective eLearning methods and explain the type of content to which each is best suited. This overview guarantees you’ll find the right eLearning format for your training strategy!
Synchronous & asynchronous learning
eLearning methods can basically be divided into synchronous and asynchronous formats. Where learning can be undertaken at any time and in any location, it is known as asynchronous learning. However, digital learning formats occasionally require participants to be present at least at the same time—in other words, live. This is referred to as synchronous learning.
Web-based training courses
eLearning method #1
Web-based training is the “classical” model, so to speak, and also what most people think of when they hear the term “eLearning”. As the term suggests, this involves making learning content available via an Internet-based platform. This method usually forms the basis for digital knowledge transfer and can be complemented by other methods. Ideally, your learning software will also offer other formats to allow you to vary the learning on your courses.
Benefits: Web-based training provides an easy introduction to eLearning and can be easily combined with other methods.
eLearning method #2
Strictly speaking, blended learning is not purely eLearning. Instead, blended learning combines analog face-to-face sessions with online courses. However, the content of face-to-face sessions is not repeated online; instead, all learning is divided between the face-to-face session and the online course. This method is therefore particularly suitable when time is short and complex theoretical and practical content needs to be conveyed, because it enables you to offer theoretical knowledge online and focus on practical learning in your face-to-face session. Of course, whether you schedule the online course before or after the in-person session depends on the content and is your decision.
Benefits: Face-to-face sessions allow more time for key content that is best explained in person.
eLearning method #3
Mobile learning simply means eLearning undertaken on a mobile device instead of a desktop PC. It enables learners even more flexibility than “classic” eLearning to learn at any time, wherever they are. However, with the right software, you don’t have to choose between PCs and smartphones. With a fully responsive display, mobile learning can also be used as an extension—for example, to make use of downtime, such as morning train journeys, or to transmit knowledge in specifically selected environments.
Benefits: Mobile learning enables unrestricted learning, anywhere and at any time.
eLearning method #4
Podcasts are on trend! You can listen to them online, but unlike individual audio files, they are serialized so you can subscribe to them. Podcasts are often devoted to a selected overarching theme. For example, there are entertainment podcasts, political podcasts or anti-stress and time management podcasts. Of course, podcasts are also an excellent way of imparting knowledge on a regular basis, at any time and wherever your listeners are. Depending on the platform, you can also make your podcast available to a closed group.
Benefits: Podcasts offer maximum flexibility, allowing people to learn while performing everyday tasks that require little concentration, such as cleaning or going for a walk.
eLearning method #5
Like podcasts, videos have the advantage that they are far more motivating for learners than texts; they also appeal both to auditory and to visual learners. In particular, they make it easier to present complex topics in ways that learners can understand. But it’s essential to ensure the sound quality is good. Although viewers are generally happy to tolerate poor image quality, poor sound brings learning to a crashing halt. External microphones cost less than €100 and are usually all you need to record good-quality sound without interference.
Benefits: Videos are motivating and their audiovisual presentation of information makes them memorable.
eLearning method #6
Microlearning breaks down the total knowledge to be delivered into learning units that are as small as possible. We like to refer to this as “snackable content”, because it comes in small, easily digestible bites. This method avoids overwhelming learners and enables you to bolster long-term learning by providing tidbits regularly and at short intervals. It is highly effective when combined with classic eLearning and mobile learning, and is also particularly suitable if your employees regularly work from home rather than coming into the office every day.
Benefits: Microlearning can be combined with many other types of learning and helps to avoid overwhelming participants.
eLearning method #7
Online seminars are digital versions of seminars—in other words, lectures in front of groups of participants. In contrast to video training, an online seminar is held live, enabling direct interaction between the lecturer and the participants. This method is therefore particularly suitable for large groups of participants where it is not possible to hold a face-to-face session. As well as enabling learners to attend wherever they are, the key advantage of online seminars it that they can be recorded and made available to learners later, allowing them to watch again and consolidate their knowledge.
Benefits: Online seminars are ideal for large groups of participants that are not able to gather in one location.
eLearning method #8
Virtual classrooms are probably the most complex method of eLearning. They do more than impart knowledge through individual courses; they provide a virtual learning environment with all the opportunities of an analog one. A virtual classroom thus combines webinars, video and text chats, data sharing and interactive whiteboards. You can also choose between different modes, which either give all participants equal rights (which you need for group discussions, for example), or assign the lecturer privileged rights, as would normally be the case in the classroom. This method is useful both for schools and other educational institutions and for companies wanting to conduct digital training courses over several days, for example.
Benefits: Virtual classrooms provide learners with a realistic approximation of an analog learning environment, wherever they are.
eLearning method #9
MOOC stands for “massive open online course”, meaning a free and publicly accessible online course. MOOCs are offered on appropriate platforms and can generally be started at any time. The duration of the course depends on the complexity of the content and the resources of the individual learners. During the course, participants listen to online lectures, undertake assignments, exchange ideas with other learners and take tests. The biggest advantage of a MOOC for your employees is that they can decide for themselves when to start the course and how much time to devote to learning each week, adapting it to their work circumstances and living environment.
Benefits: MOOCs allow learners to learn at their own speed.
eLearning method #10
Virtual reality is probably the newest learning method mentioned here, and you may even have had some experience of it already yourself. As with gaming, the participants wear special glasses that enable them to enter a virtual room where they can move around and even influence what’s going on. There are currently only a few such projects, but examples include Deutsche Bahn and chainsaw manufacturer Stihl, who have already successfully used virtual reality for in-house training—it’s a trend that’s definitely worth keeping an eye on!
Benefits: VR content is particularly easy to remember because the learning environment is realistic and involves multiple senses.
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