Guided Online Learning: L&D’s Holy Grail

by 16 Jul 2014
A Chinese proverb states:

Tell me, I’ll forget
Show me, I’ll remember
Involve me, I’ll understand

Most L&D professionals will recognise that while there is certainly truth in that proverb, ‘involving’ the learner can present challenges – especially in the age of elearning. Separated from their peers, often hindered by poor instructional design, and typically lacking a trainer to keep them on track, it’s no surprise that ‘elearner pioneers’ often felt disconnected and disengaged. They were not involved in the process of learning.
The first wave of elearning perhaps focused too heavily on the technology of learning delivery rather than meeting the user’s needs. While excellent for ‘tick-the-box’ training, hard skills reinforcement and many other interventions, the existing technology could not yet deliver the immediacy and up-close-and-personal attention achievable with face-to-face (F2F) learning.
Now, a new era of elearning has dawned. Guided Online Learning presents a very different value proposition and operates in a very different learning environment.
The perfect hybrid
Guided Online Learning is one of the fastest growing methods of internet-based learning delivery, says Craig Simon, director of digital learning at TP3. “People see the relationship between the classroom and the online world, and are starting to recognise the two can work well together – particularly if it’s been designed effectively to optimise learning outcomes,” he says.
Spurred on by improvements in bandwidth, hardware and collaboration software, Guided Online Learning blends the benefits of F2F (guided learning, expert facilitator, hands-on skill building practice, interaction with other learners) with the convenience of online training (short sessions, no travel, specific, targeted learning). Unlike a webinar or video, learners can watch, practice and ask questions of an experienced facilitator in a highly productive learning environment. Students also benefit from sharing experiences with, and learning from, other participants who may be facing similar workplace challenges, just like in a classroom environment.
“The key difference with guided online verses straight elearning is, firstly, you’re getting a live trainer; and secondly, because it’s scheduled you can actually work with your cohorts,” says Simon. “There’s a big push towards social learning and interactions in virtual classes because we know that people learn from one another.”

How does it work?
TP3 uses Citrix GoToTraining, a widely used platform to deliver live, interactive online training. All students require is a computer, an internet connection and a set of headphones with microphone.

Each session runs for 90 minutes and has up to 15 students participating in an online course led by two experienced facilitators. One qualified, experienced facilitator leads the session with the support of a co-facilitator, who answers individual questions and keeps each participant’s learning on track. The lead facilitator guides students through practice exercises that develop skills, with a course booklet containing step-by-step instructions. Throughout the session, students can see the facilitator’s screen and participate by using Chat or by ‘raising your hand’ – both features within GoToTraining.
Unlike webinars, these sessions are highly interactive and contain quite a bit of learner input. To create a safe and private learning environment, where learners feel free to discuss and ask questions relating to their personal work without hesitation, the sessions are not recorded.

What’s on offer?
The latest Guided Online Learning offerings are skills focused, designed to improve (or refresh) participants’ productive use of Microsoft Office suite, including Excel, PowerPoint, Project, SharePoint and Word. Simon adds that any content that can be chopped into “bites” is suitable for Guided Online Learning, and TP3 is currently working on a fresh suite of professional development courses.
The combination of short, punchy duration and focus on a specific skill, such as creating and using formulas in Excel spreadsheets, also helps avoid the dreaded ‘cognitive overload’ – that point in many learning interventions when learners’ minds have absorbed all they will absorb at that point in time.
Simon says that delivering high quality training in an online module has always been the “Holy Grail” for educators. “In the early days of online learning, people forgot the important social element of learning. Everyone, from kindergarten kids through to adults, learns more effectively when they are interacting with others. We now have the technology to ensure that social element is not lost.”
Simon adds that traditional classroom and elearning training will continue to play an essential role in corporate learning. But whereas they can deliver on one or two of the three critical components that a quality learning solution should provide, Guided Online Learning can deliver on all three:
  1. Quality in-depth learning
“In terms of quality, we’ve got brilliant trainers,” says Simon. “The content we’ve developed is second to none, and it has been tried and tested over the years. We’ve taken the things we do best – write brilliant content and deliver brilliant classroom environments and training – and moved it into the digital world. With high quality trainers and high quality materials, we’re already on our way to a great learning experience.”
  1. Flexibility and convenience
“You learn exactly what you need to learn at the time you choose,” says Simon. “An organisation can schedule sessions when they want, and that might fit in with different geographic spread or different time zones. As for convenience, you log into the course 10 minutes before the scheduled start time, and it’s over in less than two hours. It’s targeted, specific, and you’re not sitting through hours of content that is not relevant to you.”
  1. Low cost
Because of that targeted approach, the price is much lower than if you’d have to build a customised elearning course or send students to a classroom-based training course. Sessions cost $90 per person for 90 minutes of live, interactive facilitated online training.
“Two out of three is not bad, but three out of three is exceptional,” Simon says. “It’s early days [TP3 launched its Guided Online Learning suite in late 2013], but I’m excited by where we’re heading.”

Summary: New era, new learning mode
TP3’s Guided Online Learning is for all learners who:
  • Do not have time to attend face-to-face training or have access to public training courses
  • Find self-paced elearning lacks challenge or is not engaging
  • Find webinars and online videos fail to provide enough personal involvement, interaction or hands-on practice for skill building
  • Want more choice, quality and value from their knowledge and productivity solutions.

Further information
TP3 is the leader in knowledge and productivity improvement. The company has over 30 years’ experience in developing people and streamlining systems for Australia’s largest employers. To find out more, contact us toll-free on 1300 658 388, visit or email us at
TP3 invites Human Capital readers to log into a complimentary webinar at 11am, July 17. The webinar will feature Craig Simon discussing how to create an environment of personal accountability for improvement, and how to implement a blended learning strategy in the 70:20:10 era using technology. To register, visit