• Alessia Messuti

How to build human connection in e-Learning

Updated: May 31


3 simple suggestions to bring back a crucial element in training


This blog was first posted on 15 March 2022 on the ITCILO website.



Without a doubt one of the most important aspects of being us, that is being human, is our undeniable need to connect with other people. This is important for us not only to learn, to grow, but actually, to thrive.

Given the context we’ve shared with others around the globe these past months, most of us might also share a not-so-closeted secret; online technologies are just not a perfect substitute for physical presence.

However, below are a few fairly simple suggestions you could implement to bring back what most likely you will agree with us makes for a crucial element in any kind of training or teaching, human connection.


1. Storytelling

Close your eyes for a second and let the image of the most ancient school setting come to your mind’s eye. Are you also seeing what we’re seeing? Exactly. People sitting around a fire. That is probably one of the first schooling experiences that ever existed. People sharing stories around a warm, glowing fire, bringing facts of life to life, engaging others’ imagination and emotions. So if you don’t usually do it already, try to convey some of your online training content through anecdotes, film scenes or quotes.


2. Stepping into someone else’s shoes

When we first learn to walk or even talk, we are all far from being competent at it. However, our own lack of capacity is exactly what makes parents and grandparents drool while making cooing noises that are meant as encouragement. Role-play, simulations and teamwork can be of paramount help in figuring out our first steps into an unknown topic. If we, as trainers, can create a safe space where participants can fall without negative consequences, where they feel they can gain experience by doing, by trying things out, by seeing how others have overcome similar obstacles to the ones they are facing, we might actually be nurturing a learning experience that could have a long-lasting, pleasant and beneficial effect.


3. The real scoop is the feedback loop

Really, who wouldn’t like to know how to become more skilful and accomplished at any given task? Think about giving enough focus to providing honest, authentic feedback. Cultivate an environment where interaction between participants is conducive to conversations that allow for frank and candid exchanges. Play is also a good way for people to get feedback in an engaging, fun and memorable manner.


Summing up

Keep in mind the following learning formula:


Listen to Atish Gonsalves, Founder of Gamoteca, and Alessia Messuti, Learning Innovation Officer at ITCILO, as part of the ITCILO e-Learning Design Podcast Playlist.



Keep learning about E-learning


If you’re hungry for more ideas and techniques to nurture human connection during your next online training, join a hands-on online lab on this topic with ITCILO. The e-Learning Design Lab is run regularly by ITCILO, and during the course you will not only have access to the latest methodologies, you’ll also get one-on-one coaching on your own institutional e-Learning project.