Are a Lack of Digital and Pedagogical Skills Negatively Impacting Learners?

Are a Lack of Digital and Pedagogical Skills Negatively Impacting Learners

Technology has changed the face of learning and development, and central to ensuring that there are positive learning outcomes in this technological environment, are digital and pedagogical skills *. It is not enough to purchase and offer technology platforms; those that operate them need to do so skillfully. It is not enough to be a great teacher in a classroom setting; using technology in training requires an additional set of skills. In particular, trainers must be able to identify quality online training resources to meet learners’ requirements, guide learners to navigate their online training, appropriately support their learning, track their progress and report in line with organisational requirements.

Research has shown that lecturers and trainers lack of digital skills to facilitate quality online learning is negatively impacting their learners’ outcomes1, so it is imperative that training to develop these skills is provided. Key technological components of the learning and development team’s delivery of training is the learning management system, (LMS), and solutions such as a webinar application and digital resource creation software. There are over 1,000 different LMS on the market and over 100 different webinar solutions, so no one could possibly be expected to have the knowledge and skills to effectively navigate even a small proportion of them. However, what is expected is that learning and development staff will be trained to use their organisation’s technology effectively to support and deliver quality training.

Effective pedagogy is not exclusively applicable to face to face training, it is equally important when training is delivered online. The full extent of face to face pedagogical skills are not required for all types of online learning, however there are many additional skills that are.

In my career as a face to face and online trainer delivering to teachers, trainers and learning development leads, and as an awarding body quality assurer, I’ve found that the inclusion of digital skills in the pedagogical skills of trainers is critically important. A brilliant face to face trainer can fail dreadfully as an online trainer without consideration for the additional skills required.

To ensure quality of online training, organisations should develop trainers involved in the delivery so that they can:

  1. Confidently plan and develop online training in line with required learning objectives
  2. Be creative and innovative in selecting and adapting online strategies to help learners to learn
  3. Create online learning resources that are engaging and interactive and use a variety of learning styles
  4. Plan and deliver effective online learning for diverse groups of individuals in a safe and inclusive environment.
  5. Deliver online learning that is accessible to all, at a time and place that suits them
  6. Ensure that their learners have the appropriate skills to confidently undertake online learning
  7. Confidently use the technology to deliver and support training, ensuring effective and appropriate:
    • Personalisation of online learning to meet learners’ needs
    • Learner engagement in online interaction and discussion with the trainer
    • Facilitation of online interaction between learners and their peers
    • Engaging and interactive activities to check knowledge and understanding
    • Methods of online assessment
    • Constructive and timely feedback to support progression and achievement
    • Monitoring of learners’ activity online
  8. Confidently use the technology to manage training, including:
    • Create and upload training resources
    • Manage and edit courses
    • Enrol users
    • Manage course enrolments
    • Keep learners on track with their learning
    • Generate and schedule reports
  9. Manage learner and employer expectations for online learning and assessment
  10. Promote the benefits of online learning and support learners in its use.
  11. Enable learners to share responsibility for their own online learning and assessment
  12. Reflect on what works best in delivery of online learning, assessment and support to meet the diverse needs of learners
  13. Understand Copyright and Intellectual Property legislation, personal security practises and acceptable use policies when working online and know how to comply and monitor learner compliance.  
trainers collaborating on pedagogical skills

In conclusion, yes, the lack of digital and pedagogical skills in training does impact negatively on learner outcomes. The good news is that employers can easily change this by developing the skills of those who deliver online training.

Employers can provide supportive development opportunities, that create a culture of asking for help, and learning from, and collaborating with peers. Setup a mentoring and coaching programme, that utilises the knowledge and skills of experienced staff, who deliver quality online training and champion online learning. This can work extremely well to motivate staff to develop their skills in an informal and supportive environment. Enable staff to experience a variety of online training as a learner, and to provide constructive feedback on their learning experience. Finally, trainers need to be advocates of online learning and be confident in the knowledge that they are delivering good learning outcomes for learners, otherwise they will fail before they have begun.

* Pedagogical skills are the ability to plan, innovate, create and deliver effective teaching and learning environments to help learners learn and grow to their full potential.

Author: Carolyn Lewis

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