Last month, a group of people got together to learn. The presenter shared her expertise about the topic. The participants broke out into small groups to tackle learning exercises. The speaker visited each breakout group to facilitate discussion.
Attendees gave the session high marks, noting comments like “great speaker” and “the class and resources were very user friendly and easy to follow.” Many said they’d recommend the program to a friend.
It all sounds familiar, right? But here’s the twist: All of this learning was hosted online. The session was “Women in Leadership: Finding Your Voice,” offered through CUES Elite Access™: Virtual Classroom. And it was quite different from what many of us think of as online learning—very unlike the “click for more graphics and text” courses or the webinars of the past.
Longtime benefits of online learning have included its affordability, flexibility and support for work/life balance. With virtual courses, attendees don’t have to leave the office—and their families—for days at a time. However, the lack of networking of old-school webinars and online courses makes them useful only up to a point. Fortunately, “online” and “leadership learning” are now blending more effectively than ever.
Planning season is just about here and, as you look ahead, you’ll probably consider professional development opportunities for yourself and your team members. With the online learning industry booming (market research firm Global Industry Analysts projects the industry will reach more than $125 billion this year), chances are you’ll consider virtual as well as in-person learning programs.
When looking at online learning, consider whether the course(s) you’re considering offer:
- the opportunity to interact with peers and the presenter. This is especially important when considering more complex or subtle topics, such as women in leadership, innovating with fintech or how to influence others.
- the opportunity to learn together in person when the online course ends. With CUES’ inaugural Payments University, for example, participants first attended two virtual segments through CUES Elite Access™ Virtual Classroom, then met for two days onsite in San Francisco. Interestingly, participants “replied all” to the group email sent out after the second virtual session, and set up dinners and networking in San Francisco the night before the in-person sessions started.
- the best combination of credibility, expertise, participant support and price. Just like anything else you buy for your credit union, you’ll want to get the most bang for the online learning buck. Considering the reputation and customer service ethic of the organization offering the course as well as the knowledge of the presenter in balance with the price will help you get value.
Attending a more interactive online course is like going to a book discussion group rather than just reading the book on your own. It’s enlightening and insightful to talk with others about rich topics with many dimensions, like women in leadership. If you have questions about how online learning fits into your staff and executive development—or how to choose the best virtual course options for your team—I hope you’ll reach out to me.