The MUUVO Skills as a driving force -project (ESF 2021-2023) has developed a training and coaching model for companies in Vantaa and in the region of Uusimaa, Finland. The aim is to strengthen their competitiveness in sustainable development and corporate responsibility, as well as to build up their human capital management. The training is based on self-directed and independent online learning on a digital learning platform supported by company-specific coaching. The contents studied as micro-courses focus on sustainable development, the green transition and corporate responsibility, as well as on self-management, competence development and change management.
In the spirit of continuous learning, the MUUVO project enhances the possibilities of adults in working life to develop and renew their skills at different stages of their careers. The project emphasises that learning always depends on the individual, requires engagement from them, proceeds in stages and builds on what has been learnt earlier.
The MUUVO project has found that studying in an online environment is a completely new way of learning for many working adults who may be more accustomed to traditional contact teaching at educational institutions. Not everyone may have previous experience with digital learning platforms, which are becoming an increasingly important channel for completing content-specific micro-courses of a short duration.
The MUUVO project experts have gathered feedback from participants on their experience of online learning and how they view the contents of the micro-courses. Based on this inquiry, we may say that when it comes to online learning, all learners have their own challenges. It can be about the learner’s digital skills, the usability of the online platform, the lack of in-person interaction, or other distractions such as interruptions in learning during working hours.
”Even though it only takes about an hour on average to complete a single MUUVO micro-course, it is not always possible to do it in one sitting during the working day.”
In addition to the technical aspects related to any given learning platform, the MUUVO project experience shows that even a short micro-course must be content- and method-wise interesting and relevant to the individual learner and serve him/her professionally. Moreover, from the wide range of different micro-courses available, it is necessary to be able to pick up a combination of courses that genuinely motivates and inspires the learner.
The numerous lessons learnt in the MUUVO project from offering micro-courses on a digital platform can be summarised in five tips for online learning. The purpose of these tips is to encourage working adults to boldly try studying on digital platforms and get acquainted with their diverse learning offers.
1. Get interested in online studies offering new topics
Think about what topics interest you and what motivates you to learn new things. Be open and curious. The topic of your interest can be directly related to your current work, but also to your hobbies or free time. When you have found a well-fitting online course that complements the skills that you need at work, discuss and agree with your supervisor on how to best get started with it.
2. Prepare for online learning and brush up your learning-to-learn skills
Once you have signed up for the online course, find out what studying means in practice and what it requires of you. Ask for more information if something is unclear. Make sure that the user ID you receive for the online environment works and that you understand how to operate on the learning platform. If it has been a while since you last studied, recall how you learn best and what is the most natural way of learning for you.
3. Set goals and commit to studying
For getting the most out of your online studies, it is important to set concrete but realistic goals for your own studies. Especially in longer online trainings, larger goals should be broken down into smaller sub-goals. In shorter online courses, there are naturally fewer goals. The goals both guide and motivate you to move forward in your studies. When you achieve your goals, reward yourself for a good job. If for some reason you do not reach your goal, think about what caused it and simply try again.
4. Minimise distractions
If you are studying partly or fully during working hours, agree with your supervisor on how your online studies can be arranged as smoothly as possible. It is always a good idea to inform your colleagues when you move on to your studies during the working day. This way they know to give you the peace of mind to study. Also, close all devices and apps that interfere with concentration. Likewise, choose a place you like and where you can calmly delve into your studies.
5. Enjoy studying and share what you have learnt with others
It is of paramount importance that you are motivated to complete your online studies, as then you will also enjoy them more. Everything you learn with pleasure is usually remembered for a long time. When your experience of learning is positive, you are likely to willingly share everything you have learnt with others (e.g. colleagues, friends, family, hobby mates). Talk to your supervisor about how to apply the knowledge and skills you learnt in the online course to your current or new tasks at work. In this way, you can concretise the benefits of your online studies also for your employer.
None of us is ever completely ready, but each of us can always become better. The guiding principle of the MUUVO project is that the renewal of individuals and organisations is based on continuous learning and development. The innovative operating model combining micro-courses with company-specific coaching developed by the MUUVO project pays attention to the skill needs of both the employer and the employee. All in all, the MUUVO project serves flexible and agile learning in working life.
Mrs Mira Rajalakso works at the Laurea University of Applied Sciences as the MUUVO project manager and Dr Mika Launikari contributes to the project as an RDI expert in career guidance and competence development.
Original text in Finnish and translation into English: Mika Launikari, Laurea University of Applied Sciences (original text published 25.8.2022)