Our friends at the eLearning Guild are dedicated to building a strong and well-informed community of eLearning professionals. To that end, they have recently put out a free e-book full of brilliant advice from 39 well-known figures in eLearning industry, many of which are speakers at the upcoming 2016 Learning Solutions Conference & Expo.
In support of the Guild’s impressive free resource, we decided to take a look at a few of the gems contained within and offer our own perspective.
“One of the strongest characteristics of a good learning experience designer is empathy. In order to engage your audience, you need to understand who they are, what they want, and what they need.”
-Sean Bengry, Senior Principal of Learning Strategy and Design, Accenture
Knowing who your learners are and what they need is arguably the most important part of course design. Each person is coming at the material from a different perspective, presenting a unique challenge: how do you make an eLearning course that reaches the greatest amount of people? As Bengry said above, “you need to understand who [your learners] are.” That means you need to do a little market research. What kind of person is going to be taking this course? What profession are they in? How have they responded to similar courses in the past. These questions are essential to understanding the mindset of your learners and creating an environment that works with them.
“Understand the capabilities of your technology. Oftentimes people build solutions that require manual processes because they do not know the capabilities of the available learning systems. Properly leveraging the available technology leads to more efficient development and implementation and a quicker return on investment.”
-Nicholas Bird, Learning and Development Manager, Wyndham Vacation Ownership
Though it may sound obvious, it cannot be stated enough that technical literacy is an absolute must for eLearning professionals. If you don’t know everything your tools can do, you are a) missing out on some key features that could vastly improve your work and b) possibly damaging the overall product through your misuse of the equipment. Say, for instance, that your auto mechanic didn’t grasp the “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey” rule. For starters, there are a lot of fixes he just won’t be able to do. Can you think of many car parts that don’t utilize that convention in some way? And even if he does try fixing things, his misunderstanding of this one function of the equipment could mean a world of hurt for your car. Simply put, know the capabilities and limitations of the medium you are working in so that you can best grab their attention and keep it.
“Participate: Don’t fall into the ‘if we build it they will come’ trap. Especially at first you may need to do a lot to seed content and nudge talking. And remember, especially if you are introducing a change in behavior, skill, etc.: You influence conversations by being part of them.”
-Jane Bozarth, Leader, State of North Carolina’s eLearning Program
Gone are the days when a company could just rely on word-of-mouth and the one-sided interaction that is advertisement. Granted, those things are still aspects of business today, but in the information age, you can’t afford to leave the outcomes of these things to fate. Perhaps you want to develop a forum for your learners to talk about the subject at hand. You might be tempted to just set up the infrastructure and let the people police themselves in this case, but there is more to it than that. You need to be there, talking with the people and giving your expert advice where you can. There maybe some learners out there that know enough to help the others out, but your job as the teacher is to more than simply moderate things. Make sure that the most correct statements are rewarded in some way, and as Bozarth said, “nudge” the conversation in more productive directions.
We’ve really enjoyed reading this eBook and we know that you will, too. For more sage advice from these and 36 other eLearning experts, take the time download and read the eLearning Guild’s free eBook, Engagement That Works from Learning Solutions Thought Leaders,today!