This blog is about how eLearning has changed - for the better - over the years. Digital learning is the new eLearning and it means that we have a much bigger range of learning experiences now to offer. Gone are the days where one-size fits all. If you want to see a range of digital learning options, check out our Content development services or our Medical writing services.
What does digital learning have that eLearning doesn't?
I'll start with a story.
We had a team day in Dublin last week - six of us travelled from Belfast to Dublin in two cars. One car arrived well ahead of the others, was 30 minutes early and was waiting for the others to join in. The other car was, let's just say, a little late!
What was the difference between the two cars? Guess??
The difference - the driver's age! Now you might say I'm being agesist, but bear with me. The younger driver planned the journey a little differently. That is, they didn't really plan at all. When I asked afterwards why they didn't plan, they just said:
"Well, anytime I've travelled before I've just used my apps and the web to figure it out as I go".
So there you have it. This generation, and increasingly, many of us, are relying upon being served the exact digital content when we need it. What happened in this case to make this normally reliable strategy not work quite as well - it was the fact that the location we were going to had multiple locations in Dublin. Sometimes a little tech savvy and experience of age is a better winning combination!
Whether it is the lunch deals offered by nearby restaurants, a cheat word for scrabble or an online course to learn a new technical skill - technology has brought a tremendous shift in the way we seek, learn, retain and consume information. Similarly, based on these changing patterns it has brought an incredible shift in the form, types, nature and genres of digital content.
Our range of smart, automated and instant mediums of learning is a game changer for all of us who support corporate learning and development. The type and magnitude of technologies, applications, and devices for eLearning has doubled during the past five years. It has also empowered people to adopt a self-managed learning approach and become their own educator and mentor - on a scale never seen before, because it is now easier!
Around 82% - 85% of the people engaged in some form of learning are managing their own personal development, learning new skills, enhancing their acumen and knowledge base and are managing it all on their own, at their own pace and as per their own needs, convenience and feasibility.
This is a sure-tell sign that the ordinary learners of today have become more empowered than ever in the present age. They know their needs and weakness and have less ambiguities about what skills, knowledge, and expertise they need to learn to pave their way up the career ladder, seek professional growth and gain a cutting edge over their peers and associates. In a recent article from Bersin (March 2017), there is a useful insight into how digital learning has positively disrupted how we all learn:
Digital learning = the way eLearning should have been
So if we know that digital learning is the new, improved eLearning what steps can we take to make sure we always produce great digital content? Here are seven tips to get you started.
1. Focus on the business need
Before you delve in the process of creating an outline, plan or curriculum for your digital content, you need to conduct an intricate, elaborate and thorough assessment to identify the specific need to create digital content.
Need assessment is the first and foremost step to identify the loops, discrepancies and deficit areas in the domains of elementary and advanced knowledge, specialised skills and professional ethics and behaviours. This research and deficiency analysis prior to content development will make it convenient for you to:
- Gain an insight into the current knowledge base and skills of your audience
- Find the deficit areas that need to be addressed through digital learning
- Understand your audience
Once you have identified and marked the focal points of learning, you will be able to establish the objectives of the learning strategy and create an on-point, targeted and compelling digital content.
2. Capture minds and hearts
Work to instil a strong surge of motivation in your audience to ensure that your digital content supports the challenges both the business and individual staff currently have. The only way to inspire and enthral your audience and maximise the impact of your content is by capturing the attention and interest of your audience.
Devise Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound objectives (SMART objectives) of the digitial learning resource and share it with your audience. Well-defined, clear, concise, quantified and action-oriented objectives instil a need and desire in your audience. This need becomes the fuel that triggers motivation and efficiently drives the learning process.
3. Make it easier to learn
If you think of how the internet has transformed from the early 1990s to now, this also represents how our corporate learning environments need to transform! The digital overhaul of content has transformed its idea from a stack of long, textual and monotonous paragraphs to an assorted array of information that is visually appealing, easier to retain and holds a high magnitude of recall and retention. The digital face of content includes a host of visual elements such as images, videos, and graphical illustrations that proven its efficacy as a good substitute for the boring old text.
4. Make it relevant
The essence and subject matter of your content should be relevant to relevant to your audience. Prior to getting into the content development phase, think about the personal and attributes of your targeted audience. Identify their professional knowledge, key strengths, job roles, professional attributes as well as their needs, expectations and aspirations. This understanding will help you create the right and the relevant content that is tailor made for your audience and has an absolute capacity to deliver to their needs.
Make sure that you punctuate the curriculum of the content with illustrations and worked examples to break the monotony and prevent cognitive load. Cognitive load is the mental exhaustion that occurs when we try too hard to impart multiple ideas and thoughts in a single shot. This suffocates the mind, decelerates the cognitive processes and causes an extraneous load that affects the memory and retention. We've blogged about cognitive load before here.
5. Make it stick using spacing techniques
Imparting the knowledge is only one part of training or learning discourse. You can either choose to deliver the entire curriculum in a single-topic terrain, or what is now more common, you can inculcate, incubate and nurture it in the minds of your audience in a graduated and procedural series or discourse. This is called spaced repetition.
Incorporating the spacing techniques in your content strategy and spreading the learning over a considerable period of time ensures high retention and better learning. A digital learning strategy that has been devised using the principles of spacing effect enhances the impact and value of your content in the following ways:
- It increases and maintains attention
- It prompts retrieval
- It prompts complex and more-difficult retrieval
- It adds a more enhanced contextual variability
6. Make it connect through storytelling and examples
While developing the content for digital learning, ensure that it connects with your target audience. Your content should be infused with the power to strike just the right chord, and be able to establish a subliminal connection between you and your audience. And the best way to establish this connection is to adopt a storytelling approach to deliver your content.
Stories have an immense power to activate relevance and enable the audience to connect and relate with you. Stories, that make a major part of our informal chats and gossip is an effective way to engage your audience and triggers their cognitive process. The cognitive processing of information stimulates emotions and behavioural responses and creates a strong impact on your audience.
7. Make it fun!
Since we have so many more options for learning now using gamification techniques and game-based learning, isn't it time we made this more common and easier to do in corporoate learning? We'll be blogging more about this again. Watch this space!
Learn more about creating brilliant digitial content
eLearning is changing - for the better, and that is a good thing. Your staff will demand a better experience and they need more support to help them manage their own learning. The fastest way to self-directed learning is through our - new intelligent learning platform - Percipio. If you want more than tick-box Compliance training we can help there too! And if you want to raise standards in eLearning, our one stop shop Content development services will help you do just that.
ps - did you remember the story I told at the start of this blog?