When it comes to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) training, the subject matter must be deeply engaging, inclusive, and experiential in order to be effective and impactful. Guess what? The same goes for online DE&I training. The truth is, strategically crafted online training content with discussion groups and breakout sessions can feel more dynamic and impactful than live, in-person training if it is impersonal and boring. The key is the quality of your course authoring, ensuring that you’re providing accessible, best-in-class content using cutting-edge, research-backed tools and formats designed to immerse and engage your learners and optimize completion and retention.
Online DE&I training provides an accessible way to ensure organizations can reach higher populations of learners, including remote employees, with consistent, well-designed training that has a real, lasting impact on their lives. This is critical to the well-being of our diverse workforce, but also the health and success of our organizations: A 2018 McKinsey & Co report found that organizations with diverse boards and executive teams were up to 35 percent more likely to financially outperform their less diverse competitors and, according to research from Deloitte, organizations with strong DE&I practices are six times more likely to be innovative, anticipate change and respond effectively, and twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets.
So, how does an organization create content that is personal, meaningful, and effective? Here are our top 5 tips to produce engaging online DE&I training that can impact your organization at all levels.
Just as there is a broad range of traditional, instructor-led classroom learning experiences, there are many different types of online training. Types of online training experiences include hybrid classrooms and online learning models, instructor-led virtual classrooms, self-paced web training, microlearning, social learning, mobile learning, video courses, and many more. Each of these modalities can be customized or leveraged to impact different preferences or circumstances for training. In DE&I online training, video courses can be impactful for showing examples of situations that employees may not have experienced firsthand and how to address them, whereas an instructor-led virtual session could provide opportunities for the interactivity that is essential to some of the real-life takeaways of this type of training. Part of determining the right training fit for your organization will be considering the material you are training on and how it is most strategically deployed by your specific learning population.
Organizations with the best in-person DE&I training had to quickly pivot during the pandemic when the vast majority of in-person training became remote. Luckily, top DE&I practitioners successfully redesigned their training by leveraging a variety of online tools and platforms. As one instructor stated, “The same ideas and rules remain as if I would be there in person. Not taking things personally, listening to understand, not to respond…I wouldn’t want to be just a talking head. I’d still want to be able to pose questions, do the whole shared screen thing to show whatever slideshow, video, or activity is appropriate…I’d also have a normal follow-up with surveys.” What this instructor recognizes is the importance of adaptability and using various delivery methods to engage and amplify learning for maximum impact.
40% of high school seniors report having difficulty finding information about campus safety, well-being, and inclusion programs and services. If there is any subject where learning should be accessible and equitable, it’s DE&I! This subject matter is critical to the health of our organizations and people, including our schools and students. Creating content that is impactful and engaging, and offering it to learners in a platform that makes it easy and convenient for them to learn, maximizes the success of your training. One DE&I instructor states, “I have always believed live, in-person workshops were necessary to create psychological safety, but am now working on webinars with some of the most insightful women of color I know to provide a space for people to express their fears, support each other and grow at this challenging time.”
Cloud-based Learning Management Systems (LMS) keep your content hosted in a central, accessible location by your learners and allow you to leverage an existing library of courses, customize them to your purposes, and author your own. Self-paced courses and microlearning online training opportunities (small, 3-5 minute sessions of content) can help learners become familiar with the material, process it, and review portions they’d like to revisit at their own pace. This learning builds context for virtual workshops or breakout sessions, which can help deliver that simulated-experience training that is so impactful for people. Depending on your material and your organization’s learners, you can adapt your online training strategically to work for you.
It’s important to focus on the delivery of material, whether it be simulation, video, or other engaging tools, but there are also many ways to expand upon the learning experience outside of online training. At Vector Solutions, we provide guidebooks and supplemental materials for interactive sessions and leadership to help extend the impact of DE&I programs. During and after online training sessions, tools like surveys and polls can help capture important data that you can use to improve your courses, continuously optimizing your online training.
At Vector Solutions, our courses are authored using research-driven methodology created by experts with backgrounds in education, psychology, law, and instructional design. We continuously update our content to build practical skills for succeeding in a diverse community through informing and expanding opportunities for communication (not directing decisions). Our goal is always to provide an inclusive framework that keeps learners engaged in conversation and reduces resistance - this 2020 Vector blog with our Director of Content Design, Laureen Ranz, highlights ways to ensure DE&I content is authentically diverse, inclusive, and equitable.
A great example of this is Vector’s Diversity and Inclusion courses for Higher Education, which help higher education institutions and organizations advance diversity and inclusion on their campuses and in their communities. These courses are available for undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty, staff, and academic search committees. They are proven to increase inclusive language, attitudes, and behaviors with 82% of course takers stating that they will focus more on the impact of their choices based on the skills they learned.
Online training makes high-quality DE&I material accessible and engaging on a global level. As one study result states, “helping participants to develop individual voices is, in fact, thrilling as they demonstrate evolving leadership skills that may result in positive social action in their local communities. Without the aid of technologies, such rich dialogue and experience would be limited to a regional analysis; through the use of media-based instruction, educational experiences extend a global reach, providing compounded meaning and impact (Merryfield, 2001).”
There is tremendous potential for online DE&I training, but, like all online training, it relies on the quality of the content and the format to leave a lasting impact on learners. Visit Vector’s DE&I training page to learn more about our industry-focused DE&I trainings for organizations and learners.