Liz Sheffield is a freelance writer with a background in training and development. She specializes in writing about everything related to the human side of business. You can contact her via LinkedIn or Twitter.
Have you ever been talking with someone about your eLearning technology or design when that person suggests you “just” move that image, or “just” change an activity, or “just” modify some text?
That person might follow-up the statement, “It shouldn’t take too much time, right?”
In the spirit of transparency, when I first started working with eLearning designers, that was me. I’m the person who thought technology meant it was easy to make changes. But thanks to some patient designers, I’ve learned there’s a lot required to design an effective eLearning module.
If you run into a non-techie, what’s the best way to communicate with him or her so that you can partner to deliver a great eLearning design?
Determine a common language
As you talk with this person, try to determine their level of understanding. If they look confused about a term you use, explain it. Ask the person about his or her past experiences with eLearning development. This will give you a better idea of what you need to explain.
Look for ways to draw an analogy to illustrate a concept. Is there a project you’ve worked on previously that used the same technology or had the same requirements? Mention that as a reference point. Or there might be a public example that illustrates what you need to say about how the technology behind your eLearning design works.
Be specific about what you need
To avoid misunderstandings, be as specific as possible about what you need from this person. If you need a specific file type, file size, or access, provide concrete details. Don’t use general terms such as “the file can’t be too big” or “send me this as an image.” Instead, tell them the file has to be a .jpg and can’t be more than 1 MB or it won’t work.
Assume positive intent
This person wants a successful outcome just as much as you do. Keep that in mind and assume positive intentions. It may feel like he or she is making your life miserable with question after question, multiple change requests, and unreasonable timelines. But the intent behind those requests is a desire to make sure your eLearning design is the best it can be.
With a little patience and a desire to effectively communicate, you’ll be able to achieve success. And, you might just create an advocate while you’re at it.