This post was originally published by Olivia Adkison on lessonly.com.
I caved. I did what friends have been recommending for months. “Watch Ted Lasso,” they said. “You will love it.” I hardly ever watch TV, let alone binge watch a show, but I watched all 10 episodes of Season 1 in five days. Yep, that’s two hours of Ted Lasso a night for almost a week. And I have no shame about it because it’s that good.
At a high level, the show is about an American football coach, Ted Lasso, who takes a job across the Atlantic Ocean with AFC Richmond, a soccer team in the English Premier League. And he has literally zero experience coaching soccer. The storyline is complicated, but viewers quickly find out the real reason why he was hired despite his lack of experience and soccer knowledge.
Wait, what does Ted have to do with virtual training platforms?
In England, “soccer practice” is actually referred to as “training.” And while soccer training in Ted Lasso looks pretty different from the kind of training we complete at work, the heart behind it is the same: We’ve got coaches, leaders, and managers in our corners who want us to get better at our jobs. In order to choose the best online training platform, it’s vital to first answer this question—what are the standards set for a good online platform? So, let’s look at three qualities that are essential to great soccer coaching and the best online courses.
1. Keep feedback loops open.
As Ted coaches his team, he recognizes that he’s…
- not a soccer player, and
- not necessarily the most qualified for the role he’s in.
He’s not actively on the field, involved in different plays, but the advantage he does have is that he has a bird’s eye view of everything happening on the field. This different perspective makes it so he has meaningful insights and coaching to bring to the table, but his leadership style is one of approachability. His players often share with him what’s working and what’s not—especially when it comes to trick plays. (No spoilers here: You’ll have to watch the show to find out what I’m talking about here.)
But at work, training often feels like a one-way street. A trainer or manager gathers up the information they think is most important for their teammates to know, and while usually they’ve got a good pulse on what’s most vital, it’s easy to create content without running it by the folks who actually “need” it. And for a lot of companies, training that was relevant at one time is no longer relevant just six months later. For training to be legitimately helpful and effective, there has to be communication from trainer to trainee and vice versa. The best online learning platforms make it simple for learners to leave feedback and ask questions in real time.
2. Make learning collaborative.
Soccer is a team sport. Everyone needs to pass, focus, and hustle to score their own goals and keep their opponent from scoring. Everything about it is collaborative… well, in theory. In Ted Lasso, there’s that classic character who is a fan-favorite player and also a total jerk. He hogs the ball, acts like he’s 10x better than his teammates, and is just generally a mean person. But once he’s removed from the picture, collaboration skyrockets and team dynamics instantly improves.
Whether you’re shopping for free online learning platforms or the best-of-the-best online education platforms, I challenge you to seek out collaboration. Learning in a silo is never as productive as learning from others and growing together. As you look around for the best free online courses with certificates or full-fledged training software, watch out for something that will highlight the folks who become certified or that take a blended learning approach and have a mix of instructor-led training (ILT) and self-guided learning.
3. Lean on subject-matter experts.
Last but not least, leverage your subject matter experts (SMEs). Soccer teams don’t call their top players and leaders SMEs; they call them captains. Their experience and knowledge is vital, and in Ted Lasso, the primary captain has years of experience. Ted defaults to his leadership and looks to him for guidance, despite his near constant state of anger. His years in the league are like gold to Ted.
If you’re looking at a list of online training platforms and literally don’t know where to start, find the most experienced, most knowledgeable person on your team and ask them what would be most helpful to them in their role. The whole purpose of software is to help make jobs easier, and who would know what online classroom platforms would work best than folks who’ve got some experience? Long story short, don’t feel like you’re on your own in your search for software. There are almost always better options than Googling, “What is a digital learning platform that works well for ______ teams?”
That’s all, folks
Well, that’s just about all. If you’re looking for what’s, in my opinion, the best online training platform that meets these three criteria, check out Lessonly. You can try a lesson on your own for free right here, or if you want to chat with one of my teammates about what you’re looking for in a training tool, you can set that up here.