Advantages of online learning

The Advantage of Online Learning for Community Health Workers Explained

Online learning can be a great advantage for community health workers (CHWs), offering greater flexibility and convenience than in-person classes. Since CHWs have become more popular in the US, more communities have seen the benefits of working with a trusted peer. Someone who can educate the public about health and wellness has connected more people to vaccinations, better chronic illness health outcomes and an increase in the use of preventive healthcare.

They’re so useful that the Biden administration awarded $225 million to train 13,000 CHWs nationwide.

“These investments are expected to deploy over 40,000 people in community health, outreach, and health education roles over the coming years. This investment will build on the roughly 50,000 CHWs who were already working in American communities before the pandemic,” according to a statement from the White House.

But which aspects of online learning make it an attractive option for these professionals? In this article, we’ll explore the advantages and reasons to pursue online learning for your CHWs.

5 Advantages of Online Learning for CHWs

Cost Reduction and Assessing Effectiveness

Online learning is a great way to reduce costs for CHWs. By taking courses online, learners can save money on travel and accommodations that would otherwise be required for in-person classes.

The costs of in-person vs. online training can vary depending on anything from the number of participants to the location and duration of the training to what’s being taught. In general, here is what you can expect to pay for that’s not part of online training:

In-person training:

  1. Travel and accommodation costs: If your learners need to travel to attend the training—by car or public transportation or plane—the cost of travel, hotel and food can add up quickly.
  2. Venue rental fees: Renting a venue, even just a room in a building, can be large. If the training is a big one that needs to accommodate many people or needs equipment, the cost can be very expensive.
  3. Materials and supplies: Workbooks, handouts, or other specialized materials that CHWs might use with their clients can be very expensive.
  4. Facilitator fees: In-person training usually uses an instructor or facilitator. Those fees, even for one day, can be high.

Online training, on the other hand, doesn’t have any of those fees. If you’re creating a course yourself, you may have to bank on development costs, platform fees, tech support or other facilitator fees. But a subscription service such as CHWTraining is much less expensive because it doesn’t include any of those costs.

Additionally, because online education can be tracked more easily than traditional classes, you can more accurately assess the effectiveness of the course content and measure changes in learner knowledge.

CHW Core Competencies

Find out all about what the CHW Core Competencies are, CHW roles, CHW careers, how to cross-train your staff, and how to get state certifications for the CHWs on your team

Flexibility of Time and Location

In recent years, it’s become increasingly clear that people learn best under different circumstances. While some may excel with the structure and routine of an office or clinic, others may thrive with the flexibility of working remotely or having more control over their work hours.

Online learning has the advantage of allowing CHWs to create their own timetables and take courses from anywhere with an internet connection. This flexibility allows them to fit learning into their existing schedules and make the most of their free time.

As an employer, you can find this a useful way to adapt to changes in the workplace, such as accommodating client schedules, illnesses or unforeseen events, in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance for your team. By doing so, you can help your staff thrive and avoid burnout, resulting in a more productive and motivated workforce.

Additionally, online learning also makes certain specialized topics more accessible to CHWs. They can take courses offered anywhere in the country that would not be feasible to attend in person.

Improved Access to Learning Resources

With online learning, CHWs can access an extensive range of educational resources. They can access lectures, e-books, discussion forums and other material on a wide range of relevant topics. (You can also connect them to the wealth of resources at CHWTraining.)

This includes audio and video content and interactive experiences such as quizzes or whiteboard simulations. This provides an opportunity for health workers to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in their field and also gain additional specialized knowledge.

More Self-Paced Learning Opportunities

With CHWTraining, CHWs have a unique opportunity to complete their training and education at their own pace. This can be beneficial for busy individuals with commitments that make attending in-person classes and workshops inconvenient or impossible.

You can read this guide to online learning delivery, which covers the most common formats for online delivery, if you have questions.

[Related: download the Remote Training Toolkit–FREE]

By using digital media, such as pre-recorded videos, health workers can review the material at their own speed without the pressure of competing with other learners. They will also be able to access courses without having to factor travel time and cost into the equation.

Increased Engagement with Online Communities

Perhaps the biggest advantage of online learning for CHWs is the potential for increased engagement with a wider online community. In an online classroom, learners can interact on discussion boards. It’s also easier to build relationships with other learners from programs around the country.

Here are some common ways to build online learning communities:

  • Discussion forums where learners share ideas together
  • Collaborative projects in which learners do group work
  • Peer feedback from other learners
  • Social media groups that let people connect outside the learning platform

All these could be especially helpful to those with limited local resources. Additionally, such interactions can boost morale, making learning more enjoyable for everyone involved.

Online learning is an easy choice for CHWs, considering its flexibility and convenience. Transitioning at least some of your training online, your team will look forward to the training. They will learn more and have better knowledge about how to connect with their clients and other service providers.

CHW Core Competencies

Find out all about what the CHW Core Competencies are, CHW roles, CHW careers, how to cross-train your staff, and how to get state certifications for the CHWs on your team