How To Incorporate The Laws Of UX With Designing Learning Experiences

Designing online learning with the learner in mind allows us to consider the way they think, process information, and behave online. Check out this article for tips on how to transfer the science of design to your next learning experience!

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

What is an E-Learning Course?

e-learning course

What do you think when someone says, “We need to build an e-learning course?”

My first thought is, “Do you really need a course?”

An “e-learning course” can mean many things and serve many purposes. Some people use the word “course,” but what they really mean is “we need to make content available.” What they see as a course is more like a marketing campaign. And for others a “course” is only a course if it’s focused on performance.

Which gets into understanding what people want and why they want it. Then we can build the right courses.

Information-based Courses

These courses are driven by information-sharing. It could be simple compliance training or information about policy changes. The information is important and impacts work, but at its core it doesn’t change the way work is done. There is no new performance expectation with the course, instead it’s more about awareness of the information.

Sexual harassment training is a good example of this. It’s obviously important (especially if you run a state government) but typically we don’t present the training because there’s an organization full of harassers and then after the training harassment has declined X percentage. Instead, we make people who aren’t harassers aware of sexual harassment issues and policies.

There’s obviously a performance component to not harass and or to understand what to do when we see it, but at its core, the training’s purpose is more about awareness and less about specific changes in performance.

Performance Support Courses

Another way people view “courses” is that they’re performance documents on steroids. Instead of a simple PDF or cheat sheet they build interactive pages using their e-learning software.

Some people say you shouldn’t call that a “course” and instead create a simple cheat sheet or some other performance documentation. I don’t agree. Those courses may be glorified performance documents, but it doesn’t take much more time to create them than a PDF, they can be delivered online, and they’re usually more engaging than simple documents.

Performance-based Courses

And for the training purist, a “course” is something that changes behavior. A course has measurable objectives that teach how to do something and then can be assessed for understanding.

“We expect XYZ to happen (objective). You need to learn ABC (training content) so you can learn how to do XYZ (performance assessment).”

In an ideal world, all courses have meaningful and measurable objectives. But this isn’t always the case. Often, what we call a course, may just be information that’s acquired online, and then the performance-based component happens in real life interactions.

It’s important to acknowledge that while we use the same words, we don’t always mean the same thing. I see this all the time at conferences.

Sam builds linear, explainer content and attends ACME E-Learning Conference where some expert tells him that what he builds is crap and not real e-learning. And then goes on some rant about what is real e-learning.

In the meantime, Sam’s thinking, “We just rolled out a new bonus program and my course is to let them know about the program and what to expect. Am I supposed to build some interactive role-playing scenario where they pretend to be managers who talk with employees about the bonus program? Seems all they need is a few bullet points and links to some resources?”

I try to keep it simple when it comes to building courses. Essentially, it all starts with some content:

  • Why does this content exist?
  • Who needs it?
  • What are they supposed to do with it?

For simple “courses” the only objective is to package and share the content. And for more complex “courses” the focus is on using the content to do something different. And from there, one can build simple linear courses. Or if the course requires some sort of change in behavior the content is structured to mimic the real world and the decisions one must make with the content.

Why is understanding this important?

There’s a lot of back and forth in our industry about e-learning. But while we use the same words we may not be talking about the same things. Understanding why you’re building what you’re building will help you understand how much time and money to commit to building the right product.

I’ve seen simple content converted into long drawn-out scenarios to make them interactive and engaging. They only wasted the learner’s time.

And on the other side, there are courses that required activities to practice and assess understanding but were only presented as screens of bullet points.

Determine a way to classify the types of courses you build. This will help evaluate what resources and effort they require. You’ll save time, money, and make courses better aligned to your objectives.


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

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.

 

A Quick Tip on Developing Course Content

e-learning course

Here’s a quick tip for those building e-learning courses: as a course developer you serve as the intermediary between the organization and the learner. You are the bridge between both parties.

Not All E-Learning Courses Require Learning

Before we continue, let’s assume that we’re not talking about compliance training which often doesn’t have specific learning objectives. With compliance training, the organization commissions the course to meet some sort of compliance requirement.

However, the person who takes the course wouldn’t be taking it to meet real objectives. They’re only taking it to meet some mandated requirement.

In that world, learning isn’t necessarily the primary objective. It doesn’t mean there’s no learning, it just means that learning isn’t the course objective.

Performance-based Learning Objectives

We’ll assume we’re talking about performance-based training where the organization has a certain objective or requirement for the learner and the learner desires to apply what is learned to meet the organization’s objective.

You as the course developer are a bridge between these two parties. You need to build a course that meets the organization’s goals. At the same time, you need to build a course that is meaningful and relevant to the person who takes it.

How is this done?

  • Put on the performance consulting hat to determine the real training needs.
  • Determine measurable objectives for the course.
  • Ensure the objectives are relevant and meaningful to the learner.

The organization (or customer) has specific needs. The learner has specific needs. Your analysis is about marrying those two needs. What does the organization want to do and what to the learners need to do?

I meet with the customer to understand what they want and why. I also like to know why it’s currently not the way they want it. And then I like to meet with the people who need the training. What are they currently doing? Why aren’t they able to meet the objectives? What do they need?

Often, I find there’s a disconnect between the client’s requirement and how the work is done in the real world. Being a bridge between the two parties helps you identify these issues and work to resolve them.

This is a simple tip but one I see neglected often. One thing you do want to avoid is only taking content from the client and never considering the way it’s used by the person who needs to learn it. I see this all the time and it ensures the least optimal training possible.

What are ways that you bridge the interests between the client and those who take the e-learning courses?


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

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.

 

Everything eLearning Pros Need To Know About Human-Centered Instructional Design

Human-centered design is considered a user-focused system of solving customer problems. How and why is this relevant in the eLearning sector? In this article, I share everything eLearning pros need to know about implementing a human-centered Instructional Design approach.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Busting 8 Common eLearning Template Myths

Can anyone use eLearning templates, regardless of their graphic design experience (or lack thereof)? Do they limit your creative control and yield to cookie-cutter eLearning courses? In this article, I bust 8 common myths about eLearning templates.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

If this, then what?

What if you can’t think as far as a solution – ‘if this, then that’ (IFTTT) – and can only get as far as ‘if this, then what?’

The IFTTT approach is to link a process to create a chain, a conditional statement between possibly two separate systems or processes to enable a reduced or more efficient workflow. Examples include a home automation system that will turn on a light when it detects motion in a dark room.

That’s great, but what if you don’t know the action you want to occur? What if you want to start the conversation and understanding, and you want others to have their input in the ‘that’ statement and define the whole process … for me, the ‘if this, then what?’ is far more powerful as a tool.

Photo by Sarah Kilian on Unsplash

A Deep Dive Into The Animation Process Of Training Video Production (A Complete Overview)

Animation isn't reserved for morning cartoons and the old-fashioned silver screen. A top notch video production can help you boost learner engagement and simplify complex topics.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Starting an E-Learning Project

e-learning

“Help, I am just getting started with e-learning and don’t know where to start!”

There’s obviously a lot that goes into e-learning. And creating courses can be a bit daunting for those less experienced. So let’s break it down a bit to help you get started.

People Don’t Have Course Deficiencies

People don’t sit around waiting to take e-learning courses. Those courses exist as a solution to something. The goal isn’t to build the course. The goal is to meet some objective and the course is a means to getting there.

This seems obvious, but a lot of e-learning is usually repurposed content with no real connection to any tangible objective.

The best place to started is to make sure you’re building a course to meet a need.

Things to Consider When Getting Started

  • Meet with your client and determine what the training requirements are for the e-learning projects. Your goal is to establish measurable objectives. To do so, you need to know if the request from the client is really met with a training solution. Often, it’s not. Focus on what the expected outcome is and not just that a course is to be built.
  • Get the client thinking. I usually send over a list of a few core questions so that they’re prepared and have thought about some of the issues like the audience and what they hope to accomplish.
  • Determine timelines. When is the project due? How much time do you have to work on it? Is the request in line with time available? What is the least work you can do to meet the objectives?
  • Are there existing resources? Collateral from other projects? Data? If you need access to subject matter experts or others on the team, it’s important to know that and how you’ll get that access.
  • Is there a budget? Many organizations just expect that courses get built because you have the e-learning software, but they don’t offer a budget for the assets and work that may be required to be successful. Find out if there’s a budget.
  • Identify the final authority on who can make the important decisions and sign off on work. And then you want that person involved before you do any significant production. The last thing you want is a “final course” that needs to be reviewed. Ideally, all the content is reviewed and signed off prior to any significant construction.
  • Leave the initial meeting with next steps and action items. And every meeting you have after should require some decisions. If not, don’t have a meeting.

There’s obviously a lot that goes into build an e-learning course and this is just a few quick bullet points. The main things before building any e-learning course: make sure you need a course, determine objectives, and determine who owns the project.


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

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.