3 Ways to Maintain Connections While Distance Learning

Written by Lauren, CAECE Trainer & Assessor


During the COVID-19 virus lockdown, there was a sense of worry and panic about how I would be able to connect with students and keep relationships strong, healthy, and functioning in such a difficult time. When out doing workplace visits, I had ample time and opportunity to sit with Directors and students to converse and make connections. Getting to know their needs while at the same time understanding them as individuals, my concern with COVID-19 lockdown, was that I would find it hard and that these relationships might not survive in this time and with less face to face communication.


The question I posed to myself is: How do I stay connected with my students?


Below are three ways I found to be successful in training and building connections learning remotely.


These three things are very different from each other and require different amounts of effort to implement, and I am sure over time, and with more experience, I will adapt and change them as I also grow as a Trainer.


1. Interactive Communication


The best way to foster positive interaction is to engage in interactive communication with students via texting, phone calls and live chats such as Zoom, Facetime and Skype. Real-time communication platforms develop a sense of connectedness and control amongst the students; it is a more personal way to connect and engage with the student and allow for self-expression and emotion to be present.


Live chats are also a great way to check-in with students who may seem silent, missing assignments or have not been actively engaging in the course. Emails can seem impersonal and also easy to dismiss for a student - when you are face to face through video chat, students may feel more relaxed to talk about their troubles. Hearing their trainer's voice and seeing their face with emotion and concern can create a sense of security and trust which is also missed and unnoticed in emails at times.


2. Create a choice option


Nothing could be more engaging than allowing a person to become a part of the decision-making process. While this is a common practice in the business world to make employees feel engaged, the same is also effective in building a stronger connection with students. To encourage students to participate in decision making, I often discuss units with the students and explain what each of them is and what the tasks will entail.


If a student is working through a situation at work that aligns to a unit in their course I encourage them to complete that unit, this helps for the learning to be real as they are implementing what they are learning in the workplace.


I negotiate completion dates with students, asking if they feel it's achievable this month and putting realistic goals into place with them. Providing a student with a sense of choice and input instead of dictating dates and times has worked wonders and shows the student that I understand and care about other issues and areas of their lives. I have genuinely found that when you give students options, input and a voice that allow them to be involved in important aspects of their study they will respond positively and place more effort into achieving these goals as they feel heard and respected by their trainer.


3. Recognition for your student's hard work


Recognition is a great way to keep students motivated. It encourages them to engage more with the course and each unit they are working on.


Recognition for completing a unit motivates students to put maximum effort into their learning. Students will always remain connected to you through course objectives and tasks while also feeling recognised and respected for their hard work and achievements.


When a student completes a unit, I always make an effort to send a personal email to congratulate them. You never know the struggles they may have gone through to finish the unit, so making sure you take time to recognise the small stepping stones of achieving their qualification is paramount in building confidence. I have found the response from students is overwhelmingly positive when they feel they are respected and acknowledged.


It is essential to understand that every student should have the best learning experience that could possibly be offered. Students must have the sense that the trainer is always there for them and not appear to be missing in action through minimal communication.


For this to be achieved, I aim to respond to each student in a timely manner.


I encourage regular participation in live chats and phone meetings. If we keep up frequent communication with students, all the above suggestions will enhance the learning process.


You will find relationships and connections may become stronger as there are mutual respect and understanding, which supports positive outcomes for the future of learning and building connections.