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Raising the bar in elearning

by Helen Cassidy

elearning design

Here's how to demand better quality elearning from your digital learning provider. I’ve been in this industry since the early 1990s and I’ve seen learning evolve from dusty CD-ROMs to apps that can transform your learning and your life! This evolution is in itself a good thing, but unfortunately, those transformative apps are at the higher end of the digital learning quality and budget scale; typical elearning is still mediocre fare.

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Low cost per head, high impact eLearning solutions

All the immersive and engaging content of the consumer web seems to be absent from the corporate online sphere. Instead, corporate training still features click-next, text-and-graphics-heavy, rush-to-the-finish content. When it comes to learning experiences, it’s sad to say that the average newspaper website offers more engagement and excitement than most elearning. For example, this New York Times op-ed, uses interactive storytelling techniques and is much more engaging than the average corporate elearning programme. 

Other industries and sectors such as IT, finance and traditional media have embraced this concept, so what is holding back the elearning industry?


How eLearning authoring tools have evolved over time

When we talk about raising the bar in elearning, what we are really saying is that digital learning buyers and consumers shouldn’t have to pay a premium for content that engages staff and helps them to learn. The industry really needs to understand the concept of low cost per head, high impact solutions.

Some of it can be traced to the evolution of digital learning authoring tools, outlined in the image above. Over the years, these tools have evolved from simple text and images publishing platforms, to fully interactive authoring environments.

The good news is that the quality of elearning tools is on the rise. The latest generation of authoring tools is a big step away from traditional click-next elearning. Tools like Appitierre’s Evolve authoring tool, or learningPlay from Netex, help us to create ultra-modern, scrolling, interactive digital content that we experience the way we’re used to with apps and typical web content.

However, it’s worth noting that the dip in the 2000s was due mainly to internet bandwidth limitations (and the onset of dot-com disasters), along with the rise of, and over-reliance on, rapid authoring tools. Just to be clear: rapid tools have their place, but when all of your content looks the same and doesn’t really engage your staff, then there’s something wrong – and your staff are being short-changed.

 

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Getting to high quality eLearning

We wrote an article for the Association of Talent Development, based in the USA - what modern elearning should look like. To create high quality digital learning, you need modern learning design skills.  The top 10 learning skills mentioned in the article are the minimum you should expect from any elearning vendor. We have summarises these skills here:

 

Think about asking these questions to your eLearning vendor.

1. How do you conduct a thorough analysis to ensure that the elearning will meet the needs of the business and its staff?

2How do you select the best learning approach for your target audience?

3. How do you work effectively with subject matter experts to ensure the
best focus for your elearning project?

4. How do you use specific instructional or presentation techniques, such
as scenario design, game design, simulations, and explainer videos?

5. How do you help people transfer new skills to their everyday job?

6. How do you keep people learning beyond the initial elearning resource?

7. How do you encourage more “pull learning” than “push learning”? (People aren’t buckets to be filled!)

8. How do you write well enough to engage your audience? (Sometimes we don’t pay enough attention to this skill)

9. How do you visualise key concepts and communicate them to your audience?

10. How do you evaluate the success of your elearning project?

  

Building on these questions, we need to consider what modern learning tools and techniques should also give us. To learn outside the workplace, we are all used to finding the exact YouTube video we need or using an app to give us that extra little bit of inspiration. But how do we build this sort of engagement into everyday elearning resources?  We’ve also recently written for the USA-based online magazine, Learning Solutions: on the topic of interactive video. Again, this should be a key feature of elearning courses. You can read the article in full here; our main insight is that we should be doing much more with video than just displaying information passively.

Fast track your journey to high quality eLearning

The best elearning is like all good learning interventions: it takes you on a journey, it challenges you in the right way and it leaves you better off than when you started, rather than with feelings of frustration or boredom!

Scenario-based, video-led elearning content is our forte. Our recent GDPR training course showcases a range of our elearning design skills. If you’d like to see what else we can offer, get in touch.

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