eLearning may be the best answer for today’s leaders because it is:
- Convenient: learners can log in and learn when they have the time
- Self-paced: facilitators do not control how quickly learners progress; the learners do
- Need-based: eLearning can deliver just-in-time training at a moment’s notice
- Portable: learners can use their phones, laptops, and tablets to learn anywhere, anytime
It all comes down to how a person becomes a leader in the first place, and that’s through knowledge and experience. In the case of leadership skills, theories and leadership strategies can be taught online, provided that the online experience is relevant to the learner and allows for the creative and innovative thinking that a leader must possess.
The experience that helps build leadership can be taught online through:
- Case studies – The Patient Management Demo demonstrates how case study information can be used to create engaging and effective eLearning.
- Branching scenario-based learning – Connect with Haji Kamal is an excellent example of a decision-making scenario lesson where there are consequences for each decision the learner makes.
- Experiential learning – These courses take problems to the learner to solve, just as real life does!
- Virtual reality environments – Virtual Reality Forklift Training, for example, takes you inside a warehouse and teaches forklift operation.
These eLearning approaches allow learners a chance to apply the theory they’ve learned and seen the consequences of their decisions. After all, we learn as much or more from our failures as we do from our successes.
Social Learning helps to develop Leadership Skills
Social learning is not necessarily an eLearning phenomenon, but it is one way that eLearning is delivered. Social learning networks and/or virtual communities serve as a platform for employees to share knowledge and ideas. Give a group of people a common task and leave them to figure it out and social learning happens. What also happens is that leaders within such a group emerge. Participants learn from one another and, in doing so, interpret and discuss what has been learned. Eventually, one or more learners are acknowledged as authorities on the subject and become group leaders. The learning may have nothing to do with leadership, but, for some, leadership skills are a by-product of social learning. So why wouldn’t an organization take advantage of that?
Social learning also encourages discussion among learners. By monitoring social eLearning tools such as channels and courses, organizations can recognize and promote these new leaders. Exercises promoted through project-based learning can readily become a part of the social learning experience. Provide learners with a problem or question that must be solved through a group effort. When you give a group of learners control over their project, someone will assume a leadership role and that too is a learning experience.
These leaders should be encouraged to develop their leadership skills and perhaps be given the opportunity to help in the design of other projects that learners must complete. Or, they could be given the opportunity to help others develop the skills necessary to lead.
Mentoring can also be used to foster leadership through online learning using tools such as email, groups, channels or social media. Typically, mentorship is a relationship between an experienced person (mentor or teacher) and a less experienced person (mentee or student) in which mentors share knowledge and experience with mentees to help them learn and develop skills and knowledge. Mentors are leaders, and their leadership stems as much from their experience as it does from their knowledge. Their leadership skills will be based on their practical application of knowledge, as opposed to just understanding the theory. Traditionally, mentoring was a one-on-one in-person relationship, but online mentorships can be equally effective, and a powerful learning tool that encourages leadership.
Can leadership be taught through eLearning? The answer is yes. Can leadership qualities and skills be fostered by an online learning community? Again, yes!
We’ve discussed how social learning can play an important role in the development and sustainment of leadership skills through such platforms as forums and through project-based learning. We’ve talked about mentoring and how today’s leaders can foster tomorrow’s leaders by sharing their experience using digital tools.
Perhaps you want to be even more direct about growing leadership skills within your organization? With all the benefits to eLearning (remember, eLearning is convenient, self-paced, need-based and
portable), it just makes sense to create a course specifically tailored to foster leadership skills. By using our platform (Opentute) you will get the time to be able to grow leadership skills like:
- The time management method
- Active listening
- Conflict management
- Dealing with difficult customers
- Change management
- Building teams
- Project management
Leadership skills are learned, there is nothing inherent about them. Sure, some people are better at leadership than others, but no one is born to lead. And, as we know, if something can be taught, it can be taught online.