Connecting SMEs To Employees: The 5 ID Challenges

Like doting parents, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) often want to share everything they know. But, content-driven training is more likely to be overwhelming than memorable. Here are 5 ways games can help you bridge the gap between SME expectations and what employees really need to do their jobs well.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Three Ways to Create Engaging Courses that Aren’t Boring

boring e-learning

In a recent post we looked at boring course content. I am not convinced that there is any boring content. I do think there are bored people.

Today we’ll look at how to deal with the bored people when building e-learning courses.

E-Learning Courses Should Be Relevant and Meaningful

There’s a lot to learn about instructional design with all the theories and models. But when it comes down to it, the key ingredient is that the course has meaning to the person who takes it. If you read this blog enough, you’ll see that repeatedly.

One of the challenges to this is that many courses have little to do with the learner or their needs. A lot of compliance and annual training falls into that category. The goal isn’t learning per se. Instead, it’s to track exposure. In that setting, it’s difficult to cater courses to relevant activities because the content tends to be general and not specific to function. And the goal is an end-of-year completion report.

boring e-learning make relevant

Assuming you do have control over the course structure, framing the content in a meaningful way is important. 

I always say, “Throw them in the pool.” 

Put the learners in the place where they need to know and use the course content. Don’t focus on the information, focus on the desired action. And then build a course around those activities where they can both learn by doing and demonstrate their understanding.

Skip the Course and Focus on Leading Questions

Do we really need a “course” to teach? Why not frame the content around relevant questions and then present the answers (hopefully desired actions) to them?

You could create a traditional FAQ type structure of questions with answers. It forces you to frame the content into a more meaningful context and not just focus on presenting information.

boring e-learning scenarios

Another way to deal with a question and answer structure is to build simple scenarios. No need to overbuild the course. They don’t need to be big elaborate media creations. They can be simple questions with a few real-world choices that lead to answers. 

Keep the Learning Where the Learning Happens

A great e-learning course may take a few hours for the learner to complete. But a work week is at least forty hours. And depending on the task, proficiency requires more than a couple of hours of practice. Probably at least a couple of weeks. 

Where is most of the learning going to happen? In your e-learning course? Or will it happen in their daily interactions with real people, making real decisions?

A good e-learning course is just part of the training solution. Blend the online activity with real-world activities. I like to use the online course to ensure consistent and timely delivery of the core content. And then create training activities in the real world. 

boring e-learning peer coach

An easy thing is to create a list of tasks that require proficiency. Then determine how they practice them and get feedback. I like to use learning journals and peer coaches. Regardless of how you do it, the learning happens mostly outside of the online course, thus it’s good to consider that when building the learning experience.

Remember, the course is a means to an end. The goal isn’t to take a course. The goal is that the course enables some practical learning which produces some measurable results.


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • October 6: Amsterdam. 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges by David Anderson. Register here.
  • October 21: Sydney. 3-Hour Articulate Virtual Event: 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges, Creating Engaging Software Training in Rise 360, and more. Register here.
  • October 29: ATD Nashville. Here's Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio.

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

Help! My E-Learning Course is Boring.

boring e-learning

One of the top questions about e-learning is how to make boring course content more engaging and interactive. Considering the state of many e-learning courses, it’s a good question. But I’m not sure it’s the right question.

Is Course Content Boring?

I’m not sure the issue is that the content itself is boring as much as the content is meaningless and irrelevant to what the person needs. 

I do a lot of small home projects. Not being the most skilled, I spend a lot of time watching videos and reading articles online to learn what I need to do. As can be expected, the quality of the content varies. However, I don’t view the content as boring.

There is a lot of content not tailored to my specific needs. But that’s OK. I can quickly move on from that. I’m not locked into another twenty minutes of something that is completely meaningless.

What is Boring Course?

There are boring courses. Much of it is regulatory or compliance training. We’re not going to get rid of it. It’s unavoidable in the world of e-learning. It’s not that the content itself is boring. Instead, it’s a bunch of information mostly disconnected from the learner’s world. 

Another source of boring content is that the course learning objectives are framed around the delivery of the content and not the actions related to it. We present a lot of information, but we don’t show how to apply the information in any meaningful way.

At the crux of it all is that the course content is irrelevant to the learner’s day or job. Thus, it’s meaningless.

I don’t have a job where I’m getting bribed. Yet I’m taking ethics training on not getting bribed. Boring! Put me in a job where I get bribed and then give me training to convince me it’s not worth it. 			</div><!-- .entry-content -->
	    
	<footer class=

Instructional Design for a New Generation

instructional design for a new generation

Ok…I’m not sure that’s the right title. I’m working on a presentation that covers instructional design challenges and wanted to share a few points to consider about course design and how we need to move past the way many of today’s courses are constructed.

Technology has changed the landscape for today’s course designers

instructional design content owners

Years ago, someone other than the learner controlled access to content. We were all beholden to the subject matter experts and their walled gardens. We saw this in universities. We saw this in organizations. Subject matter experts owned content and they determined how it was packaged and delivered. Organizations created their learning management systems and determined who had access to what and when. Their quizzes determined who was smart enough.

But a lot of that has changed.

instructional design learners

The internet and mobile devices give us access to everything we need to know, and mostly at a point when we need to know it. It doesn’t make us deep experts, but it makes us experts enough.

Need to repair sheetrock gone bad? Find a YouTube video. I won’t be quitting my job to build sheetrock walls, but I can learn to do what I need to do when I need to do it.

If I know something and want to share it. I’ll join a community. I can create a video (or some other asset) and make that available for others who want to learn what I know. The people who want to learn can find what they need when they need it. And they can find some comfort in the personal connection to an expert. They won’t feel sold to or manipulated. It’s a community and not a place worried about optics and spinning the meaning of every word.

instructional design today's learner

Course designers need to embrace a new role

It’s not enough to build a course and upload to a learning management system. This forces all of the content behind a wall. We should start to see our role evolve.

Today’s learner has access to what they need. They can get it when it makes the most sense to them. It’s usually in context. And it’s not overwhelming.

However, they may not always know what they need or how much of it. And they may not know what’s most critical or what’s best for meeting objectives. They may also waste a lot of time on irrelevant content.

traditional instructional designer

This is where we step in. Instead of just being traditional course creators, we should become both curator and connector.

Curating resources helps sort through the noise and package what’s most important to meeting objectives.

Connecting is all about facilitating a learning community and connecting experts with novices. It allows the content to live and breathe. The community has a knack for sorting value.

evolving instructional design

There will always be a place for formal course design and delivery. Government regulations and the fear of lawsuits will ensure that. However, if learning is really the goal, then how we make content available and help people succeed must be more than just putting together a bunch of online presentations and quizzes. Look at the way you learn things today and where you go to learn them. Find ways to make that part of your instructional design, too.


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • October 6: Amsterdam. 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges by David Anderson. Register here.
  • October 21: Sydney. 3-Hour Articulate Virtual Event: 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges, Creating Engaging Software Training in Rise 360, and more. Register here.
  • October 29: ATD Nashville. Here's Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio.

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

How to handle the handoff conversation

Do your clients expect you to create training on demand? By changing how you talk to them, you can steer them away from an information dump and help them solve the real problem.

Once they agree to do a needs analysis, you're on your way to the best solution.

Here's a quick slideshow with ideas for things you could say -- and not say.

For more, see:

Learn more

Build your performance consulting skills

Stop being an order taker and help your clients solve the real problem. The Partner from the Start toolkit helps you change how you talk to stakeholders, find the real causes of the problem, and determine what type of training (if any!) will help.

What’s Wrong with Retrofitting an Accessible E-Learning Course

accessible e-learning retrofit

A guest post by Elizabeth Pawlicki, Training Program Manager, Articulate.

Many e-learning designers are challenged because they don’t often build accessible e-learning courses. So, they’re not sure what accessibility means and how it impacts course design.

In a recent webinar, we discussed general ideas around accessible e-learning, common design challenges, and some ways to overcome them. One of the tips was to plan for accessibility from the start because it’s not a good idea to retrofit 508 or WCAG compliance into existing e-learning courses.

An attendee asked, “What’s wrong with retrofitting a course?”

Good question.

Understanding Accessible E-Learning

Imagine a city that already exists full of apartment buildings, skyscrapers, and transit systems. And then the city council implements a law that says there must be a half-acre of park every two square miles.

How will you accomplish that?

You either must tear down what you’ve already built or try to squeeze the bare minimum of acceptable “parkland” into your existing space. Since the parks weren’t an initial consideration, you do what you can to meet minimum guidelines, but you may not meet the aspirational goals of the intent of more parks.

And that’s often the case with e-learning courses that weren’t built with accessibility in mind. The retrofitted courses may appear to meet the minimum requirements but may not offer the best user experience; and they may not actually meet the requirements if all you did after-the-fact was apply accessible features to the original content.  And of course, all of that retrofitting costs a lot of extra time and money.

Challenges Retrofitting Accessible E-Learning

There’s a lot that goes into creating an e-learning course like consulting with subject matter experts, writing scripts, developing prototypes, presenting content to stakeholders, and iterating on the prototypes you have created. In the end, you have a published output that everyone has agreed upon.

When you try to retrofit a completed course, it may seem easy and straightforward. But once you begin to uncover how much needs to be undone, redone, and how many people could and should be involved in that process, you’ll find it’s more costly, time-consuming, and downright difficult. This is especially true when you consider the interactive nature of e-learning and how different users access the content.

Therefore, it’s important to consider accessibility as part of the initial production process so that you understand what’s required and build a course that meets everyone’s needs. If you start with accessibility in mind, you’re considering everyone. Everyone will feel included because they are.

Want to learn more:



Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • October 6: Amsterdam. 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges by David Anderson. Register here.
  • October 21: Sydney. 3-Hour Articulate Virtual Event: 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges, Creating Engaging Software Training in Rise 360, and more. Register here.
  • October 29: ATD Nashville. Here's Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio.

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.