We’ve seen how COVID-19 has changed how the world functions — everything from the way we work to the way we shop and the way we learn. With in-person training opportunities out of the equation, the learning and development (L&D) industry has been forced to evolve our educational strategies.

Leaders need to understand that employees are trying to maintain regular workflow on top of the external stress brought on by a pandemic. In these types of situations, it can be easy to deprioritize learning. However, with industries of all kinds changing and evolving during the pandemic, it is imperative for organizations to discover new ways to support continuous learning.

Some organizations, seeing a shift in learner preferences, were lucky enough to invest in overhauling online training offerings prior to the start of the pandemic. For those organizations that had not made a push for more effective, interactive remote learning, COVID-19 has created an important inflection point. Here are some strategies that are working for cable professionals of all levels and that organizations across industries can apply to online learning:

Microlessons: Fast and Effective

The average human’s attention span has shrunk considerably in recent decades, and emotional factors like anxiety and stress can have a significant impact on a person’s ability to absorb information. Taking these factors into account, organizations must find ways to balance long-form learning sessions with more digestible formats, like microlessons, or short training sessions that offer a broad view of industry topics, including basic concepts and emerging trends.

Interactive Technology: Hands-on and Safe

With the emphasis on social distancing expected to continue, organizations need to be creative when it comes to their learning programs. It can be challenging, since in some industries, a hands-on approach is the most effective learning strategy. Incorporating some form of interactive technology can engage learners in a refreshing way, make hand-on training accessible to people wherever they are and provide a safe learning environment during the pandemic.

Some organizations have started leveraging 3D and 2D technologies in their eLearning programs. These multisensory, multidimensional technologies connect content and real-life applications by providing a hands-on experience in a simulated environment. In the cable industry, simulations take less than 10 minutes to complete and demonstrate practical applications for technicians, like troubleshooting a network or performing a return sweep.

Even outside of a pandemic, hands-on training is not always practical. For that reason, interactive simulations are likely to become increasingly important to workforce training in the years to come.

Online Bootcamps: Made for the Learner

By no means is there an approach to learning that is “one size fits all.” Each person absorbs and retains information differently. However, the challenge with incorporating personalized learning into L&D programming at scale is the associated time and cost. It’s nearly impossible to offer one-on-one instruction for all employees, but providing a more intimate educational approach may help learners better retain information. If employees are struggling with independent learning, offering instructor-led “bootcamps” that are more in depth and customized for the learner can prove effective.

Bootcamps are typically made up of small groups of learners who receive direct instructor interaction. The difference between an online bootcamp and a typical online course is that bootcamps go into more depth and require more learner interaction. Online bootcamps can be a great way to customize learning and help businesses meet specific learning objectives, even from a remote location.

Gamification: Connect With Learners

Modern learners are flooded with distractions and heightened emotions, making it even more difficult to focus on continuing education. Gamification is an L&D technique that has been around for almost a decade and continues to evolve as technological advances like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and data analytics grow in popularity.

Gamification introduces a low-stress environment that engages learners and encourages them to take risks, challenge themselves intellectually and fail freely. It has become increasingly prevalent as all industries adapt to a multigenerational workforce, and it proven to be an effective method for engaging learners of all levels, ages and paces.

While the pandemic will fade, and many employees will return to in-person working environments, it’s likely that the L&D industry will be forever marked by innovations driven in response to this pandemic. The most important L&D consideration for any rapidly evolving industry is to make sure your organization is informed when it comes to the latest technological advancements and understands how it can leverage them as external influences — like a pandemic — impact your training programs. As the world evolves, it’s crucial to remember that learning should, too.