The 6 e’s of elearning – Part 2

Posted on Aug 24, 2015

Elearning

Instructional Designer, Brayley Pearce takes us through the final three e's of elearning.

Part 1 took us through the first 3 e's of elearning: Engagement, emotion and empowerment. We finish by discussing the learning environment, ways to excite learners and how to evaluate the course.

Environmental Learning

In her book ‘Design for how people learn’, Julie Dirksen argues that students studying for an exam are wise to choose to study in the grey, windowless classroom, rather than the cosy library or the noisy coffee shop.

Why? Because the theory is that learning situated within a particular social or physical environment improves the recall and memory of what’s being studied.

Learning that’s situated within a particular social or physical environment improves recall and memory of what’s being studied

As an instructional designer, I want to design elearning experiences that reflect the learner's reality (or as close as I possibly can).

Understanding where the learner will be putting into practice their new found knowledge/skill/motivation will help greatly in designing elearning that mirrors their reality.

Some of my recent projects that have used this well involved creating elearning designs that simulated a text message conversation between a client and the learner. Made in the responsive Adapt software, the learner ‘scrolled’ through the messages as they would on their phone. When completed on a mobile or tablet, it simulated exactly how a real text conversation would happen.

Provide the learner with an accurate and relevant context in which their elearning takes place

It sounds simple, but getting the terminology and content into a format that is short, sharp and conversational took some time. One big plus was having the constraint of fitting the text into ‘message bubbles’  - this really helped SMEs and writers to concentrate on delivering really focused copy!

In the early stages of designing, find out where, when and how (place, time and method) the learner will put into action the objectives or outcomes of the elearning experience. Then work backwards and look to include as many emotional, physical and contextual triggers as possible, either in design, copy or delivery method (or all three!).

Exciting Learning

To cause great enthusiasm and eagerness…” if elearning evokes these emotions, it’s exciting elearning

Many learners today have grown up in a world of interactivity and they expect to find the same in their workplace.

In turn, it has created new benchmarks for elearning.

Many of today’s workforce have experimented with learning-by-doing (when did you last find an instruction manual with a new laptop, tablet or smartphone?), and when it comes to workplace elearning, expectations are going to be high.

Exciting may mean different things to different people, organisations and workplace cultures, but dull, long-winded and boring elearning looks the same for everyone.

But as the number of distractions grow, so do the number of creative tools that can be used to bring delight, entertainment and personalisation to elearning solutions.

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The number of creative tools that can be used to bring delight, entertainment and personalisation to elearning is growing

Simple ideas like cinemagraphs bring static pictures to life and can be created with free software. There is free software for creating games (such as Phaser) that, when learning design theories are applied, can add interactivity to many elearning solutions.

There’s free software to create responsive experiences that are device agnostic (Adapt), so designing elearning that reflects what learners are already familiar with doing online has never been easier, or more important.

Instant gratification, shortening attention spans and many online distractions have created new benchmarks for elearning

Today’s successful instructional designer needs to find ways to satisfy a learner’s need for instant gratification, take into account shortening attention spans and compete against the many online distractions.

So what next? Let’s evaluate that learning experience.

Evaluate elearning

Choosing a specific and measurable outcome to evaluate helps all stakeholders create and deliver a focused elearning experience

A quick Google search of ‘ROI elearning’ delivers numerous results that show how training costs have been cut by 50, 60 even 90%.

These are great headlines to support the introduction of elearning.

It’s relatively easy to perform a simple ROI calculation - deliver elearning to X number of people at their offices/homes and this saves X in travel, hotel and associated costs. So if ‘instructor-lead training’ is costing an organisation £200,000 a year, cutting this by any of the above percentages is a great saving.

But this is a rushed, and potentially a short-sighted way to evaluate elearning. First you should evaluate the outcomes of the elearning, and whether they support the strategic objectives of the business.

First you should evaluate the outcomes of the elearning, and whether they support the strategic objectives of the business

£100,000 (if there's a 50% saving) on any training method that doesn't deliver, is £100,000 wasted.

Choosing a specific and measurable outcome to evaluate, right at the beginning of the design process, helps all stakeholders create and deliver a focused elearning experience; one that can then be evaluated.

Staff are achieving higher customer satisfaction scores. Wastage of perishable products down by 12%. Sales increase 15% and returns decreased by 25% through better product knowledge.

Asking the question "How will we know if it’s worked?” may seem incredibly simple, but it is one of the most important questions (if not the only) that evaluating elearning needs to answer.

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“How will we know if it’s worked?” may seem simple, but is one of the most important questions evaluating elearning needs to answer

Knowing the answer before starting with elearning could save even more money in the long run.

Brayley Pearce, Instructional Designer, Sponge

Author: Brayley Pearce, Instructional Designer, Sponge

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