More Than Just "Click Next": Creating Innovative & Interactive eLearning

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Years ago, e-learning development was a complicated process requiring a full team of professionals: instructional designers to write the script, graphic designers to create visuals, and developers to code. This system required time, resources, and budget—things that are nearly always in short supply.
Rapid e-learning development tools changed all this. Now a single instructional designer can take on a project from start to finish. While these tools reduce costs and trim timelines, it can sometimes come at a cost to the final product. Using templates instead of graphic designers can lead to e-learning that looks generic or ugly. Using pre-rendered interactions instead of developers can lead to a habit of forcing the content into a handful of stock interactions rather than fitting the interaction to the content.
When the tools aren’t pushed beyond the basics of what they can do, we often end up with the dull “Click Next” e-learning that people dread taking. So does this mean that rapid e-learning tools can’t create memorable learning experiences? Not at all. It just means we need to use these tools differently for them to be effective.

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  • http://www.astd.org/Digital-Resources/Webcasts/TD/2014/04/More-Than-Just-Click-Next-Creating-Innovative-and-Interactive-E-Learning1 minWelcome to More Than Just “Click Next”: Creating Innovative and Interactive eLearning.Today we’re going to take a look at a bunch of easy, practical, and cheap tips you can use immediately to make the eLearning you create that much more interesting to your learners.Just as an upfront, as always I’ll be providing a link to a resource webpage at the end of this presentation. It’ll include links to all the resources I mention in this presentation, so if you happen to miss jotting down a concept or even just the name of a resource, don’t worry. I’ll be there in that site waiting for you.
  • Let’s start by doing a quick rundown of the old way of creating eLearning. It wasn’t that long ago that creating eLearning was a complicated, time intensive, and skill intensive production. In most situations, instructional designers would take on only part of the work, writing storyboards they would then pass on to developers and sometimes graphic designers to turn into an actually functional eLearning lesson. The actual expectations of the eLearning experience were low. It was generally a given that it would be text heavy experience with a few stock images and a lot of “click next” buttons: essentially a glorified book. If you had a budget, you might have some Flash interactions or a voiceover, but these weren’t always done in a way that actually made a difference in the learning experience. While these kinds of eLearning experiences weren’t all useless, in a lot of situations they were used entirely so that you could track if someone had read through your text. Not exactly the best reason to choose eLearning…(cue animation)… and not something that tends to get learners excited about what they’re doing.I’ll be honest, I know I made more than a few lessons like this back in the day. How about you guys? Raise you hand if you’ve ever designed an eLearning lesson like this in the past. Don’t be shy, there’s no judgment here.
  • 2 minBut obviously things have changed over the years. More and more we’re making some or all of our eLearning ourselves, requiring us to wear all the hats in the design and development process. There are also more options for what we can create. Pre-created interactions are one aspect of this, but so are the changing mindsets about what exactly eLearning should be like. As we reject the idea of eLearning being just page after page of text, our industry is becoming more interested in other ways to use the concept of eLearning, such as skill practice, scenarios, tutorials, and leveraging it in blended learning.Finally, amidst all this talk of changing what exactly people see as “eLearning”, we’re getting a major push for “interactivity”, although in a lot of cases people throw around this word without actually knowing what they want it to mean. And, overall, these changes are supposed to make our creation process faster and what we create more engaging. Unfortunately, none of these things has magically made eLearning more engaging to our learners. In fact, in some cases it’s actually made things a bit worse. Asking an ID without development or graphic design training to make eLearning themselves can lead to a product that doesn’t look good or function well. Widening the field for what we can create can be overwhelming, particularly for IDs who have only every created straight text eLearning.And then there’s the case of that pesky “interactivity”. Sounds good on paper, but we all know that this can end up turning into eLearning that has buttons and interactions just for the sake of having them…
  • 2 minAt the end of the day, just because you have learners clicking through “interactions”, doesn’t necessarily make them feel more engaged with the material. If the interaction design doesn’t do something that specifically enhances the content it’s displaying, then it’s not doing anything helpful at all. In fact, it may actually get in the way of your learner getting through the content easily.For instance, take those interactions that show you different blocks of text when you click different buttons. Unless you’re showing a step-by-step process that needs to be shown one portion at a time, all you’ve really done is recreate that old style of text dump eLearning we’re trying to move away from, just all compressed into one screen.How about you guys? How does eLearning that seems to have buttons and interactions for the sake of buttons and interactions make you feel? Pop your answers in the chat.(wait a minute as people use the chat. Comment on things that show up)So obviously blindly using interactions isn’t the real solution to making our eLearning feel more valuable and worthwhile to our learners. It’s just a different’ “click next packaging”.
  • 1 minYour challenge as IDs in this new rapid eLearning development world isn’t to create more buttons for learners to click, despite what some of your clients, SMEs, and managers may think. Your challenge is to ACTUALLY increase engagement, which is more complicated & time consuming than adding click and plug and play interactions, but is ultimately better for the learner.But how do you do that?
  • 1 minWell, that’s what we’re going to talk about today. For the rest of this session I’m going to share some of the tips that I use to make eLearning more interesting for my learners. Now, obviously there’s more way to do this than we can cover in under an hour, so I just handpicked the tips I thought made the strongest impact or tend to work in the broadest of situations. Everyone’s situation is a bit different, so don’t be surprised if some of these tips work better for you than others.We’re going to look at the 3 stages of creating eLearning (Planning, Design, and Delivery) and talk about some practical ways to increase engagement at each point. In a lot of cases these tips aren’t flashy or tied to expensive tools and tech, in fact, most of them are simple and free, but they’ll make a huge difference in how what you create resonates and sticks with your learners.
  • 1 minLet’s start with the Planning stage. At this point you know there’s a problem that someone would like you to solve with eLearning. It may be tempting to just jump right in to the work, particularly if you’re on a tight deadline, but asking just four questions before you commit to the project will make what you create substantially more effective.
  • 2 minSome of you are in situations where all you create is eLearning. For those of you that aren’t, though, it’s definitely worth starting by asking if what you’re creating really should be eLearning. Lots of times clients and managers will jump to suggesting eLearning without really investigating if it’s the right fit for both the material and learners.Raise your hand if you’ve ever had that happen to you.(wait for responses)Find out as much as you can about what you’re trying to accomplish with this project and see if eLearning is really the best way to teach that information. Content that is easily understood by a learner on their own, that doesn’t require a lot of back and forth questioning, and benefits from the learner being able to take it at their own pace can be a great fit for eLearning. If one or more of those items isn’t the case, though, eLearning is unlikely to be the most effective way to teach the content. Consider a live classroom, webcast, video, podcast, mentorship, or something else instead.Another thing you may want to check for here is if the thing you’ve been asked to do is actually learning. I’ve been on a few projects where the client thought that the issue they were trying to solve could be affected by some sort of training, but at the end of the day what they really needed was a communication, performance support, process change, or coaching. All the fantastic eLearning in the world isn’t going to make a difference if what the problem is being caused by is, for instance, a dysfunctional procedure employees are required to use. And few things are more frustrating for people than being asked to take training that doesn’t actually do what it needs to. Believe me. They notice.Do some early detective work to see if your skills are actually needed.
  • 2 minAnother thing to ponder as you get started is whether your project should just be eLearning. Every learning medium has it’s own strengths and weaknesses, and it’s impossible for one learning solution to be all things to all content and audiences. Because of this, it’s likely that you may have projects where some portions of the learning lend themselves well to eLearning, but others don’t. So don’t try and just stuff it all in an eLearning shell and hope for the best. That leads to learning that’s uneven, which is never much fun for learners. Take a blended learning approach and use more that one medium together, leveraging the strengths of each one.I’ve got some of my favourite learning mediums on the screen right now. Take a minute now and think about which you like using. If they aren’t on the screen, type them in the chat section right now.(respond to suggestions)
  • 3 min – It’s also incredibly important early on to find out as much as you can about the people who will be interacting with whatever you create. The most effective way to build eLearning, really any kind of learning, is to build it specifically for the intended audience and cater to their needs, situations, and preferences. One-size-fits-all learning rarely works, and people don’t tend to get interested in learning that’s generic and not grounded in their reality. In many cases you’re going to get a short description of your audience from your SME, manager, or client… maybe a paragraph or so about what job they do if you’re lucky, but you’re going to need to know much more about your learners that that to create content that they’ll find useful and intriguing. You should almost think of yourself as a marketer at this point. Do you think millions of dollars are poured into marketing campaigns with only a paragraph of info about the target market? Nope. They do tons of research to figure out who the audience is for what they’re selling and what they’re interested in. Sure, you’re not trying to sell something here, but the goal is still the same: to create something that people care about.Typically what I’ll do is book a meeting with my SMEs and spend the whole time asking them questions like you can see on the screen right now. Questions that help me understand what the learner does, what they’re interested in, what they do and don’t know about the content, and how this training should affect them. On occasion, I’ll also try something from the book Gamestorming called an Empathy Map. It’s a framework that uses a series of questions to get you into the head of your audience, and I find it’s particularly great to use with SMEs that are new to this “get to know your learner” process.Sometimes the SME can answer these questions, but sometimes they can’t cover them all. At that point you can send them off to research the questions they couldn’t answer. You can also consider, if you have the time and access, talking to the learners themselves to find out more about them. This can be particularly useful if you get the sense that your SME is a bit disconnected from the reality the learners actually function in.Once you’ve collected all this information, use it to build what’s called a learner profile: a summary of your average learner. In the case of a project with a few target markets, you may need to build a few of these. You’ll use this to guide all of the choices you make in your project from this point onward. I actually like to get the SME and stakeholders to sign off on this profile. That makes it much easier to push back in a productive way if they ask for something that doesn’t fit with what we know about the learners. For instance, when a stakeholder wants to include a bunch of basic information about the topic when your research told you that your audience actually already has the basics down pat. Being able to point to the learner profile they agreed to to back up your position often works quite well.
  • 2 minFinally, it’s incredibly important to know what the audience needs to be doing differently after they’ve finished the training. This is a great way to catch cases where the client or SME asks for one thing, but a bit of digging discovers they actually need something a bit different. Like a client who requests a course to improve overall coaching skills in managers when what they really want to have happen is for managers to get better at coaching employees who are having trouble on the job. Just following orders will lead you to make a broad, general coaching program that’s both unlikely to deeply address the real problem, and is going to make the managers taking the program feel like you’ve just wasted their time with content they mostly already know.Let’s face it, generally speaking the people who come to us with requests aren’t people with a deep understanding of L&D principles. So it’s no wonder that sometimes what they ask for isn’t exactly in line with what they really want. It’s our job to guide them through the process and help them target the actual issue at hand. And asking what they want people to do differently after they’ve completed the learning experience, what ever it might entail, is an easy and effective way to do this.This also protects your learners as well, as it keeps them from having to do eLearning that isn’t useful to them.Before we move on to the next topic, does anyone have any questions about using the Planning phase to make your eLearning more effective?
  • 1 min – So let’s say you get through the Planning stage and you confirm that yes, the thing you’ve been asked to make really is learning and really is best suited to eLearning. What next?Well, figuring out the best way to design the thing, of course. Here are a bunch of tips for ways you can use the design of your eLearning to make it appeal more to your learners.
  • 2 min – First up, and I’m probably preaching to the choir here but I’ll say it anyway, avoid overloading your learners with content. Give them exactly what they need… nothing more. By giving learners only the content they actually require, it tells them that you thought carefully about their real needs. It also tells them that you respect their time too much to waste it with information that’s unnecessary. Those are two key ways to convince your learner that your eLearning is actually worth paying attention to. There’s also something your learners may not be conscious of, but affects them just the same during a content dump: cognitive overload. This is basically the idea that there’s only so much content a person can take in at once until they just can’t process, let alone commit to long-term memory, any new information for awhile. Sure, you can give a person page after page of content, but that’s no guarantee that much of it will actually stick with them. So how much content can a person process until their brain decides it’s had enough? Well, it turns out that number is affected by a number of factors. For instance, if a person finds your content too hard, written unclearly, incorrect, or disconnected for their real life, they’re going to hit that cognitive overload level fast. That’s why it’s good to know your learners, so you can create eLearning that mitigates these factors.Your learner’s situation will also affect how much content they can process. If they’re stressed out in general or something about the content triggers them to feel stress, for instance, how many people get into a panic when asked to learn about math, their ability to learn new material drops drastically. So it’s also good to be aware of the stress levels of your learners, as well whether the content itself causes stress, and adjust the amount of content you include in your eLearning accordingly.The content dump is often the biggest place where instructional designers butt heads with their SMEs and stakeholders. They want to make sure the learners have all the content they might need, often while forgetting what it’s like to be new to the material, and we always seem to be trying to cut the amount of content the learners experience, much to our SMEs’ distress. When you’re trying to convince a SME or stakeholder that you need to sleek down the content, you can try explaining the idea of cognitive overload, but I’ve found that that line of defense only works occasionally. However, here are two other approaches I find work a bit better.First, remember your Learner Profile and remember how you got your SME to sign off on it? Here’s a great opportunity to leverage that fact. Point out the content that doesn’t align with your profile, and emphasize that that’s the reason you want to remove the content in question. Since you’ve all already agreed on the learner profile, this tends to be a successful technique for getting a SME on board with content cuts.Second, and this one works well in businesses, make your defense about the bottom line. Do the math and figure out how much time and money it’ll take for your entire audience to take the training in its longer form. Take amount of hours it takes to complete the training and multiply that by the number of people who will have to take it. Now you've got the total number number of hours the business is investing in getting this training done. Then multiply that number by the average hourly pay of your learners. That’s how much it’s going to cost the business for everyone to take the training. And if you’ve got a long program with many learners, those numbers can be staggering. Those figures can be a great way to convince a hesitant SME or stakeholder that trimming down your content to just what’s required is just good business sense.
  • 2 min – When you’re looking at how to present your content, make sure that you make it clear how this eLearning connects to the learners’ lives and will help them. This is the good old What’s In It For Me. At first that may sound a bit selfish, but I don’t think it is. It’s just being respectful of the fact that people don’t want to spend time on learning when they can’t see how it’s going to benefit them. In this case “benefit” can mean any range of things, from a financial benefit to just something they’ll find interesting. Making it clear why specifically the learner should be interested in the content is an easy way to get them engaged with your eLearning quickly.And how do you know how your content will connect back to your learner? Once again, your learner profile and research.
  • 2 min – Okay, raise your hand if you’ve ever taken an eLearning lesson or course that was over an hour long. In the chat section, tell us how you felt at the end of that lesson?(Comment on the chat section)You know how I feel at the end of learning like that? EXHAUSTED!Here’s the thing: with content that long learners tend to hit that cognitive overload wall long before the lesson is done. They might keep trudging through the lesson, but they won’t be learning much of anything. So they’ll hit the end of the lesson, feel exhausted, and not feel like they remembered much. Not a great way to make them feel engaged with what they’re learning.Obviously trimming down the content like I mentioned earlier is a good way to combat this, but sometimes you can do that and STILL have a lot of important content to cover. When that’s the case, the best thing you can do is break that content into multiple bite-sized bits of learning instead of one long lesson. Breaking things into bite-sized chunks makes it easier for learners to go through the content without becoming overloaded, particularly if you encourage them to take breaks between lessons and let things process.Another great thing that chunking your content can do is to break the topic down into subtopics. That way your learner doesn’t have to feel like they’ll need to master all of, say, that new software they’re learning to use all at once. They can just start with the lesson on setting up a new file and build on that over time. You’d better believe this makes learning much more manageable and less stressful for people. Plus, it makes it much easier for learners to go back and review content later on, as they won’t have to slog through a huge lesson to get to the content they need.There’s one more thing about chunking your content that’s important: it’s most successful when you break it down into subtopics based on how the learner will care about seeing it broken down by. For example, in our earlier software example, break it down by the tasks your learner will need to do and put it in order of what they’re need to know first, and that will make the sectioning all the more worthwhile to them.
  • 1 min – If you’re looking for ways to make your content sticky, be sure to use stories and examples, particularly ones that have emotional impact, to explain and demonstrate your content. The human brain is primed to latch on to stories and commit them to memory, so they’re a great way to get learners to engage with your content and also remember it later. Of course, not all stories are created equally. When choosing what stories to include in your content, first make sure they’re contributing strongly to the learning experience. A story about, say, a recent bank robbery may be fascinating for your learners, but it’s not likely to be of much use if you’re writing a lesson on basic procedures for a new bank employee to use with customers. Also, try and find stories that are as closely tied to the learner’s world as possible. If you’re creating a course for new leaders, for instance, a story about an experienced leader is good, but one that features a newer leader just learning the ropes, just like your audience is, is going to resonate more.Finally, don’t forget that for a story to be sticky, it needs to be written and told well. Take some time to write it with some style.
  • 1 min – On a related note, a great way to make your content connect with your learners is to provide real world examples to make the concepts feel real and practical. It’s all fine and good to hear about workplace safety rules, but it becomes so much more real and grounded when you can share examples of what happened when people didn’t follow the procedures.One of the more common issues that keep people from engaging with learning is that they feel it’s too theoretical, that they can’t see how it connects to their actual life. Real world examples, however, make this connection crystal clear.
  • 1 min – Your writing style can also affect how people respond to your eLearning, Writing in a stuffy way filled with jargon can come across as dull, confusing, and too professorial. In many cases keeping your tone professional, but still conversational tends to land better. I tend to describe this as trying to replicate a chat with a trusted mentor who is just casually talking to you about the content.It’s also important to write for you learners’ skill level. Make your content too dumbed down and your audience will get irritated and feel you’re wasting their time. Make it too complex and they’ll get overwhelmed and confused. Use your learner profile to find the happy medium that’s challenging enough to keep them interested, but not too far our of their comfort zone.
  • 2 min - Think carefully about your aestheticIf you don’t have a graphic design background and are creating your eLearning on your own, the look and feel of your eLearning may seem like the last of your concerns. However, it can actually do quite a bit to keep your learner’s attention. People are accustomed to seeing well-designed visuals all around them, from ads to magazines, to websites, to apps. They get disengaged when the visuals of things are cluttered, hard to read, or look dated. Wouldn’t it be sad if your learners brushed off perfectly good content because they felt it looked ugly? Whether they’re conscious of it or not, this is a thing that actually happens.So what can you do without going back to school to get a graphic design degree? Well, on the resource website for this session I’ve linked to another presentation that I’ve done in the past that goes through the basics of graphic design for non-graphic designers. But, for now, here are a few quick tips that’ll get you going.First, make sure the text on your screen is just plain readable. Learners tune out when the text is too small to read comfortably. They also do the same if the text colour is too tricky to read clearly, for instance, light green text on a medium green background. Make sure there’s a lot of contrast between your text and the background. Always give your eLearning screens a quick eye test to make sure they’re easy to read.Next, don’t crowd your screen. Leave what’s called white space in between your design elements like text boxes, pictures, and buttons. Leaving a bit of empty space in between each item may seem simple, but it does a lot to keep your screen from looking cluttered. Speaking of clutter, don’t cram too much text on to a screen, particularly if you’re using voice over. It becomes too much information for the learner to take in at once.Finally, invest in some polished-looking images for your lesson. Old clip art and stock images make your content look dated. Buy some stock images, hire a professional to take new photos, or even take photos yourself if you’re decent with a camera. You also need to ensure these images are strongly connected to your topic. There’s no point in adding an image that isn’t actually connected to what you’re trying to teach. That’s just confusing.While there’s a lot more to creating a strong look and feel for your eLearning then just these tips, they’re a good first step. If you’re going to keep doing the visuals on your eLearning, though, I can’t recommend enough that you pick up some basic graphic design skills.
  • 2 min – Now it’s time to talk about interactions again. Like I mentioned earlier, there are times when a clickable interaction can be perfect for your content. There’re excellent for things like showing the different steps in a process one by one, labeling an image or map, or showing a timeline. If you’re just using an interaction to play what we at my office call “hide the text”, essentially just hiding block after block of text on screen using buttons and changing text fields, the interaction isn’t helpful. In fact, it makes the content harder for the learner to read through, and annoying to try and review later. A related issue that I see happen a lot with rapid eLearning software is taking content and trying to jam it into a pre-created interaction regardless of whether it makes sense or not. Sometimes people think clicking buttons will increase learner engagement, which we actually know it doesn’t. Other times, people are just excited about the ability to add in interactions so easily, so they go a bit interaction-crazy. Either way, the result is still the same: the learner gets nothing special out of the fact there’s an interaction, and often gets a bit confused about what the point of all that clicking actually was.Any time you’re considering putting in an interaction, step back and ask yourself if the interaction itself contributes to making the content clearer. If not, avoid the interaction and consider doing something else instead.
  • 2 min – So interactions don’t actually increase learner engagement across the board the way many people hoped they would. However, there is something that does work well in most cases: learning by doing. Replicating a real situation in your eLearning, like using software, talking to customers, or mixing chemicals, gives people the opportunity to try out their skills in a legitimately active and practical way, but gives them a safe place to learn from their mistakes until they get the hang of things. If you can make the in-eLearning practice as close to the real world experience as possible, that will ensure the the practice your learners do actually enhances their ability to do the actual task or procedure you’re training them on.You can even meld the power of stories with the practice of “learning by doing” in interactive scenarios. These scenarios tell a story of a situation where your learners need to use their new knowledge, and then gives them the opportunity to try it out and see what happens. These kind of experiences get your learners’ attention, are memorable, and push them towards active learning. They’re particularly useful at the end of learning new content, and can even be used as a more practical knowledge check than a traditional quiz.
  • 1 min – A smaller, yet still significant, way you can let people take a more active role in their learning experience is to let them explore the content in the order they choose. Don’t make them progress thought the content in a specific order if it’s not required. This allows them to feel more in control of the learning experience and also gravitate to the content that interests them the most first… all good ways to help them feel more emotionally invested in what they’re learning.
  • 1 min - Something that really frustrates me is when I have to take eLearning on something I already know., and I’m definitely not the only one who feels that way. It feels like such a waste of my time, and I know I mentally check out of the experience because of that. Not ideal, right?In cases like this, where your audience likely has a significant number of people who know some or all of the content you’re going to cover, it’s worth finding a way for them to opt-out. I mean, they already know the content. We should respect that. A common way to do this is with a pre-test. If you create a thoughtful pre-test that covers the learning objectives of your lesson, you can accurately assess whether each learner already knows the content and give them the right learning experience based on that information.If they pass the pre-test, you can have them skip parts of the learning, just do a refresher that let’s them know about anything that may have changed recently, or even let them skip the lesson altogether. If you’re someone staring down, say, 5 hours of compliance training, and a quick pre-test allows you trim that down by half, you’re going to be a lot more engaged in the content you do have to take.
  • 1 min – Speaking of tests, how often do you do eLearning and have it end with a multiple choice test that doesn’t really measure whether you’ve learned anything? Even if your learners aren’t fellow instructional designers, they know a useless test when they see one. When trying to design learning that’s more engaging, a good question to ask to ask yourself is “Does it NEED to have a final test?” Sure, sometimes the answer is yes, particularly for training that’s legally required. But in a lot of cases there’s nothing valuable that you gain from giving people a test. Consider just trusting that your learners have found your content interesting enough to remember it.When you do need proof a learner has grasped the content, be sure that the questions you ask are strongly tied to the learning objectives for the lesson, connect to how your learners are going to use the content in the real world, and don’t include trick questions. It’s always good to consider if there’s a better, more practical way of measuring success. Perhaps a multiple choice question isn’t the answer. Maybe a scenario-based assessment, an on-the-job task, or a project they create based on what they’ve learned is a better measure that the content has actually sunk in?
  • 1 min – Finally, we know that people, even with the best of intentions, forget the vast majority of content they’ve learned in the days and weeks following the training. You’ve likely heard this referred to as the forgetting curve, and it’s not the most comforting thing to contemplate when you really care about people being able to remember what you’ve taught them. Thankfully we also know that if you can find ways to help people review content after the training, they tend to remember substantially more.So take this into account by giving your learners resources and follow up activities they can use to both keep your content fresh and build on it. I’ve listed a few of my favourite options on the slide here. In the chat section take a minute to share a few of yours.(respond to learner suggestions)Before I move on, does anyone have any questions about increasing engagement during the design phase?
  • 1 min – We’re going to wrap up today’s session by taking a look at a few things you can do even after your eLearning is all built and ready to go.
  • 2 min – Start by looking at how you’re telling people about your eLearning. Most of us use dry email announcements or just pop it into our LMSes without much excitement. Sure, you might get people to complete your eLearning this way out of a sense of obligation or duty, but that’s not setting them up to be very interested about what they’re going to learn.This is another time to put on that marketing hat again, because a great way to get people engaged in your eLearning is to get them excited about it beforehand. I know… getting excited about eLearning sounds like it’s overreaching, but if you take a few lessons from advertising you can actually accomplish this. Never forget, advertising is the mechanism that gets us excited about such ridiculous things as room deodorizer, healthy breakfast cereal, and a TV movie about sharks in a tornado. It can work for eLearning too.I’ve seen people in our industry actually drum up learner anticipation using teaser trailers and posters the way you you would advertise a movie (and yes, I’ve seen people make this work with topics people dread like compliance training). I’ve also seen people craft clever announcements that clearly explain how the eLearning will help make the learners’ lives easier. And even if you don’t have a budget to create more traditional advertising for your training, just coming up with an intriguing elevator speech about why your eLearning is particularly useful and then telling everyone you know about it can do a lot. If you’ve pitched it right, you’ll get people excited.The only caveat here is that you then need to have eLearning that lives up to they hype, but if you followed the design tips we just talked about you’re likely on the right track for this.
  • 1 minOne thing that can get learners disengaged is if your learning lives somewhere inconvenient or hard to find. I know for those of us that have an LMS, our instinct is generally to put all eLearning in it. But if your learners have a hard time accessing your LMS, can’t access it outside of work hours, or have a difficult time finding things in it, it’s not making your work any easier. If your learner doesn’t have to be tracked formally, it’s worth considering whether an LMS is actually the right place for your learning.For lessons that are more pull training than push, you need to think hard about putting your training in the places you learners are going to instinctively go looking for it. For instance, if you have a technical support website, that’s a great place to put eLearning tutorials for how to solve common problems with your software and hardware, or at the very least direct links to that training.If learners don’t have to fight to get to or find your learning, they’ll start your lessons with a lot more energy and interest.
  • 1 min – Finally, these days thinking about delivery inevitably involves thinking about the devices your learners will want to access your eLearning on. Generally speaking, your eLearning is easily viewable on computers, but what about tablets or phones? What does it look like on them? Can it even be displayed on them? Can you properly interact with the screen elements and read the text properly with the substantially smaller screens these devices have?So thinking about mobile is good, and some rapid eLearning development tools have made it incredibly easy to publish to a mobile-friendly format, but that’s not all you have to think about here. You also want to make sure there aren’t any unintentional barriers to accessing your eLearning on a mobile device. It’s all fine and good to make a lesson that can be viewed on an iPad, but it doesn’t do you any good if that eLearning is housed in an LMS that can’t be accessed on a tablet, or is on a website that uses Flash navigation.It’s also important to realize that, depending on your audience, they might not care about mobile device access. If they don’t have mobile devices, don’t like to use them, or can’t use them where they need to do their eLearning, then there’s little point in devoting a lot of effort into making your content mobile-friendly. Use your learner profile to guide you here.
  • 1 min – So that’s our look at tips you can use to create more engaging and innovative eLearning for your learners. And as you’ve seen, this engagement doesn’t come from flashy buttons, large price tags, or expensive tools. It comes from grounding everything you do in what’s right for the learner. Because, at the end of the day, what gets people engaged with learning is when it connects back to their reality and shows respect for their knowledge and time.And that’s something all of you can do, even if you’ve got no budget at all.
  • 2 min - ResourcesSo that’s a wrap for today. As I promised, though, I’ve created a resource website for all of you. It’s got this entire slide deck, my full speakers notes, links to all the materials mentioned in this presentation, and more resources I thought you’d find helpful:http://biancawoods.weebly.com/engaging-elearning.htmlI’m also constantly blogging and tweeting about things like learning and technology so feel free to check me out on Twitter or my blog.Before we all sign off, does anyone have any final questions?Bloghttp://e-geeking.blogspot.ca/Twitter@eGeeking
  • More Than Just "Click Next": Creating Innovative & Interactive eLearning

    1. 1. More Than Just “Click Next” Creating Innovative & Interactive eLearning Session Speaker: Bianca Woods @eGeeking
    2. 2. eLearning: The old approach TITLE Loremipsum dolor sit amet, consecteturadipiscingelit. Aliquamaliquamdignissimtellus, eg etmolestietelluslobortis at. Nulla tempus erosenim, scelerisquelobortislibero sollicitudin vitae. Nunclaoreetipsumvelenimultricess celerisque. Crascondimentumloremlectus, sa gittiseleifendligulaauctor at. Donecquisipsumvelit. Maurissedpharetravelit. Nam suscipitmaurisut dictum rhoncus. Utultriciesarcutristiqueliberobibend um, velpellentesquenibhegestas. Next Zzzzzzzzzzzz
    3. 3. New Challenges We’re making more eLearning ourselves There are more options for what we can create There’s a push for “interactivity” What does that even mean?
    4. 4. Clicking buttons doesn’t make your eLearning more engaging
    5. 5. Your real challenge Who, me ?! Creating eLearning that actually increases engagement for your learner
    6. 6. Rethinking your eLearning during… Planning Design Delivery
    7. 7. Planning What you need to figure out before you even start writing
    8. 8. Does it NEED to be eLearning? Uggg! Why do you keep giving me a course when what I need is a job aid?! Yet another eLearning course In this course, you’ll learn how to: •Blah Blah Blah •Blah Blah Blah •Blah Blah Blah •Blah Blah Blah Next
    9. 9. Does it ONLY need to be eLearning? Your fantastic eLearning course Next + Infographics Job Aids Videos Games Classes Mentoring Books Presentations Blog posts Webcasts Social learning
    10. 10. What do we know about our LEARNERS? Your Average Learner Who exactly are our learners for this content? What’s their experience with this topic? What’s their world like? What do they already know? What don’t they know? Why will they want to know this content? What is using this content going to be like in their real work? When will they need to use what they learn? What are they hearing about this topic?
    11. 11. I finished the eLearning… now what do I do? What do they actually need to DO after?
    12. 12. Design Thinking about the nuts and bolts of your eLearning
    13. 13. Avoid content dumps! Ahhh!
    14. 14. How does it tie back to the learner’s real life? Or, to put it another way… What’s In It For Me?
    15. 15. Chunk your content into small, logical bites 60 minute eLearning monstrosity Next Topic 1 10 minutes Topic 2 10 minutes Topic 3 10 minutes Topic 4 10 minutes Topic 5 10 minutes Topic 6 10 minutes
    16. 16. What’s your story? Where’s the emotion?
    17. 17. Provide examples from the real world
    18. 18. Write for your audience Not too complicated… not too easy… just right!
    19. 19. Think carefully about the look & feel vs Loremipsum dolor sit amet, consecteturadipiscingelit. Aliquamaliquamdignissimtellus, egetmolestietelluslobortis at. Nulla tempus erosenim, scelerisquelobortisliberosollicitudin vitae. Nunclaoreetipsumvelenimultricessc elerisque. Crascondimentumloremlectus, sagittiseleifendligulaauctor at. Donecquisipsumvelit. Maurissedpharetravelit. Nam suscipitmaurisut dictum rhoncus. Utultriciesarcutristiqueliberobibend um, velpellentesquenibhegestas. Next TITLE: Lots and lots and lots of subtitle text
    20. 20. Use interactions only where it makes sense *sigh* Why does this eLearning like playing “Hide The Text” so much?! Click to find out more Next TITLE Loremipsum dolor sit amet, consecteturadipiscingelit. Aliquamaliquamdignissimtellus, egetmolestietelluslobortis at. Nulla tempus erosenim, scelerisquelobortisliberosollicitudin vitae. Nunclaoreetipsumvelenimultricesscelerisque. Crascondimentumloremlectus, sagittiseleifendligulaauctor at. Donecquisipsumvelit. Maurissedpharetravelit. Nam suscipitmaurisut dictum rhoncus. Utultriciesarcutristiqueliberobibendum, velpellentesquenibhegest as. Click Click Click Click Click Click Click
    21. 21. Leverage “learning by doing”
    22. 22. Let the learner choose how they explore Section 1 Section 3 Section 2
    23. 23. Let people opt-out if they already know it Pass Fail Pre-Test Skip learning completely Skip parts of the learning Just do a refresher Do the full learning Do additional lessons/activities Do a remedial section
    24. 24. Does it NEED to have a final test? THIS Doesn’t actually tell us anything important Question 10 It is important to know about this topic True False Submit
    25. 25. Give them resources so they can keep learning So what should I do NEXT? Websites to check out People to contact Books to read Related skills to learn Next courses to try Cheat sheets & job aids to help on the job Podcasts to listen to Mailing lists to join Newsletters to read Social media to follow
    26. 26. Delivery Just because your project is published, doesn’t mean your work is done
    27. 27. How are you promoting your learning? Step right up and try your hand at some eLearning! Do YOU know where your steak has been? Food safety 101
    28. 28. Where does your learning “live”?
    29. 29. What devices can people access it with?
    30. 30. eLearning becomes engaging when it ties back to the learner
    31. 31. Additional Resources http://biancawoods.weebly.com/engaging- elearning.html http://e-geeking.blogspot.ca/ @eGeeking

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