The 6 e's of elearning - Part 1

Posted on Aug 20, 2015

Learning strategies

In Part 1, Instructional Designer, Brayley Pearce takes us through engagement, emotion and empowerment in elearning.

Be guided through the elearning process with practical tips for L&D professionals and learning designers at each stage.

Part 2 will complete the journey by discussing the learning environment, ways to excite learners and how to evaluate the course.

E is for Engage

Engage with learners to create a deeper, richer & more meaningful elearning experience

Imagine a dream elearning launch scenario…

The CEO is behind it, the finance department have signed it off and the subject matter experts (SMEs) and HR have all agreed to the content; The line-managers who’ll be responsible for overseeing the launch are behind the initiative.

But did anyone ask the learners? Really ask them?

As an instructional designer, with a background in business psychology, I firmly believe there’s great value in getting learners engaged with the process of creating elearning courses.

One of Knowles principles of adult learning (andragogy) is to get adults involved in the planning of their learning. Often, however, the first time learners engage with any workplace learning is when they sit down and begin the training.

Ask potential learners what they need to do their job better/quicker/more effectively 

A quick search on Google throws up thousands of results about the questions you should ‘ask yourself about the learners’ but precious little about how to actually work with your learners when designing elearning.

Each organisation's learning strategies are as different as learners are from each other, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Talk to the learners (not their managers)

Ask potential learners what they need to do their job better/quicker/more effectively. You may be surprised to find its not knowledge they need, but motivation, certain skills or another type of support.

Why bother? Training (elearning included) should be tailored to deliver what the learner actually needs, not what the organisation thinks they need.

  • Test the content, design and interactions

Test the course on learners, before and during the design process. Designers can have a very different perspective on a course to that of learners. Find out that content, interactions or imagery and graphics are not delivering the learning experience the learner wants early on.

Why bother? Save costs and time in reviews and mistakes by highlighting issues early on. The result? Training based on the learner’s learning desires.

Designers can have a very different perspective on a course to that of learners

Getting the learner to engage with your elearning once you've launched is just as important, something we covered in our blog about using marketing techniques to get the word out about your elearning.

Engagement once you’re into the course itself leads us to the next of our E’s:

E is for Emotion

Hands making a heart shape

How do you want the learner to feel after they finish the elearning?

One of the most powerful things you can do as an instructional designer is to make the learner feel something. Harnessing emotion keeps people interested and helps them remember better.

That’s why in content meetings one of the first questions I ask is “how do you want the learner to feel once they have completed the elearning experience?”

SMEs, HR and managers may not have been in the learner’s job role for a while (or possibly ever) and this question can get those in the room thinking more holistically about what is they want to achieve with the learning.

Adding emotional outcomes, as well as learning outcomes, to a design brief can also help ID’s and designers in their work. It can help them focus on content, interactions and imagery that can help deliver the appropriate emotional connection.

  • Create emotional outcomes

Writing down words or phrases that you feel are important for a learner to feel when they complete the learning helps to focus the content. It may be worth writing all the feelings and emotions you DON’T want the learner to feel too!

Why Bother?  A positive emotional reaction to the learning is vital for the learner to feel motivated to put into practice what they learn.

You can test the emotional reactions to content and images by engaging the learner during the design process (sounds familiar…)

Now we've connected with the learner emotionally, it’s time to get engaged emotionally with the third e of elearning….

E is for Empowering

An empowered person at the top of a mountain

75% of learners want to be able to do their job faster and better, next time you participate in any training or learning experience, ask the facilitator: "What am I going to do better/faster/more effectively after this training?"

This is a valid question for learners to ask (and I encourage you to do so). But why? Adult learners want to know how workplace learning and training will (positively) impact their ability to perform their job.

However, as an instructional designer, I feel it's my role to find a better way to help the learner establish this. I believe that to be empowering, the elearning must clearly communicate the benefits of completing the learning within the module.

Easy. Just list the learning objectives (preferably in bullet point form) in the introduction.

But these are most often written from the point of view of the organisation, and not from the learners’ perspective. Adding an emotional attachment to the learning benefits will help engage the learner on a deeper level.

An example; which of the following resonates more deeply with you;

After this training you will:

Be able to locate all the fire exits OR Increase your safety by locating all the fire exits

Usually it’s left to the learning objectives and these are normally just a list of outcomes written from the organisations point-of-view; it needs all its staff to be able to locate all the fire exits… (and rightly so)… But for the learner, they want to increase their safety… and it’s through empowering them with the knowledge of where those fire exits are, that they will achieve this.

Empower the learner with the benefits they’ll gain by doing the training, instead of listing the learning objectives

Flipping the learning objectives to emotive learning benefits that resonate emotionally with the learner, is one way to get them engaged. But how can we make it memorable?

Part 2 of the 6 e's of elearning will explain the learning environment, how to make learning exciting and how to evaluate your elearning.

Brayley Pearce, Instructional Designer, Sponge

Author: Brayley Pearce, Instructional Designer, Sponge

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