When designing employee education modules for training, onboarding, or continuing education in an onsite workplace, delivering that education in person is still an option. But for fully remote teams, in-person training may not even be an option.
When everything is digital, course developers and instructors must do more than consider the differences that come with teaching remotely. They also have to consider digital accessibility.
Should courses be self-paced or instructor-led?
Whether a course should be self-paced or instructor-led depends on the intended audience and what approach will be more effective for that course.
Self-paced courses have the benefit of giving participants control over when they learn. Pre-recorded content and uploaded resources give participants access to the course content at any time. This approach is useful for content that does not change frequently, that gets reused regularly, or that needs to be delivered to a large audience.
Self-paced learning can also provide employees with a private learning space since they can learn in a personal portal instead of in a group setting. Since course progression is individually controlled, participants can revisit concepts or modules for further clarification.
Self-led courses also require less of a time investment from the instructor. Once the course is live, they may not need to do much more than update the content when necessary. Learning management systems can track progress and evaluate assignments to provide instant feedback.
But this doesn’t mean the instructor should be completely absent. They should still provide contact information so students can reach out for questions, requests for support, and course feedback.
Some courses may be structured to be more interactive or may require in-depth, real-time explanations, detailed feedback, and opportunities to ask questions. In these cases, an instructor-led format may be more suitable.
Videoconferencing and messaging tools can be indispensable to teaching remote groups of learners. They make it possible to hold discussions and build rapport between participants. And having the option to speak aloud or via text provides options for engaging in different ways.
How should materials be presented?
Determining the right type of material to use for a course will depend on its purpose and the needs of participants.
Presentations and multimedia can be useful for teaching concepts and should include closed captions and transcripts for audio content and alt text or text descriptions for visual content. Avoid automatically playing multimedia, and ensure that media players and interfaces can be navigated and controlled with a keyboard, assistive device, or voice control, not just a mouse or screen tap.
Documents and webpages should be formatted logically and present information to be as readable as possible and interpretable by screen readers. Write content with diverse reading abilities in mind, and provide it in multiple languages when possible and appropriate.
Overall, all digital course content should comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Make this easier to achieve and maintain by focusing on accessibility from the start and choosing accessible tools and platforms. Opt for learning management systems that prioritize accessibility. Choose videoconferencing and messaging platforms with closed captioning, text-to-speech, and support for assistive devices.
Ensure that tools and platforms work on multiple devices and that content is equally accessible across them. Accessibility features that are only available on a device a user doesn’t have access to don’t help them.
Providing accessible continuing education in a remote workplace requires careful consideration of digital accessibility. Whether a course is self-paced or instructor-led, materials should be presented in an accessible format, and choosing accessible tools and platforms is recommended. By prioritizing accessibility from the start, organizations can create inclusive remote learning experiences for all employees.