How Understanding The Adult Learning Theory Helps Us Create Better eLearning

We tend to think of adults as being able to sit and absorb boring presentation after presentation. In truth, that’s just as ineffective as it would be for a toddler. Adult learning theory is a way into the minds of adults and getting there can help you create better eLearning for your employees. This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

5 Learning Tips For Instructional Designers Το Pick Up While On Vacation

Pack your bags for your summer vacation! Are you taking a local “staycation”, a road trip, or flying to another country? Here are 5 learning tips you can apply to all your deliverables. This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Instructional Design Strategies To Design eLearning In 2018

With the transition of traditional eLearning to mobile learning and microlearning to microlearning-based training, ID strategies are also evolving to keep pace. In this article, I outline the ID strategies that help us sync with the current trends. This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

How to make mandatory training relevant

Compliance training sheep“How can we make mandatory training more than a tick box exercise?”

That’s the top topic voted by blog readers, so here’s my take.

For “mandatory training,” I’m picturing any material that says some version of “Follow these rules.”

It’s sheep-dip training. Everyone must be “exposed” to it, and a checkmark records that they have been exposed.

How can we make it more relevant?

1. Disobey

A client who says “Everyone must be trained on X” needs our resistance, not our obedience.

Help the client by asking questions, such as:

  • What problems are you seeing? Has something happened? Has someone sued?
  • Was this problem caused by one rogue employee, or is it a bigger issue? Is it limited to a group of employees, or is it really a problem that all employees are causing equally?
  • What are we currently measuring that will improve when everyone is “trained?”

If there’s really no problem, we shouldn’t create a solution. We need to focus on improving performance, not guarding against problems that experience has shown aren’t likely to occur.

2. Set a goal

If it’s clear there really is a need for “training,” or some force far outside your control insists on “training,” then put on your action mapping hat and push for a measurable goal. Here’s one model to follow.

action mapping goal template

For details, see How to create a training goal in 2 quick steps.

3. Narrow your focus

Make sure your audience is specific. “All employees” is not specific.

If you’re required by forces beyond your control to create something for all employees, you can at least break down the audience by major job roles as described next.

4. Do the analysis. Really. DON’T SKIP THIS.

Focus on one job role in your audience. Ask your client and SME what these people need to do, in specific, observable terms, to meet the goal.

“Follow the data security policy” isn’t specific. This is specific:

  • When you must physically transfer data to another location, put the data on a BrandZ thumb drive using HakrPruf encryption and chain it to your left ankle.

Prioritize the actions. Choose a high-priority one, and ask, “What makes this one thing hard to do?” Use the flowchart.

Again, you’re doing this for a specific group of people in a specific job, and you’re focusing on specific, observable behaviors. You’re not asking this once for the entire “course,” and you’re not talking about all employees in every job everywhere.

If those forces far beyond your control insist on applying the same solution to everyone, do this analysis for the major job roles. You probably won’t have a ton of time to do this, but even two hours can save you and everyone else from a much bigger waste of time in the form of irrelevant and ignored materials.

Then, if training is part of the solution, you can have people use only the activities that apply to their job.

Don’t skip this.

If you skip this analysis, what do you have to work with? Generic rules that are guaranteed to become an information dump.

Instead, if you look closely at what people need to do and why they aren’t doing it, you get:

  • Ways to fix the problem that don’t require “training”
  • Ideas for ways to help people practice the tricky parts
  • Respect for the intelligence and experience of the people currently doing the job (notably lacking from most compliance training)

5. Base your design on job tasks, not information

Yes, people need to know stuff. But they need to know stuff in order to do stuff. Design first for what they need to do.

Provide the need-to-know information in the format it’s used on the job. Let people pull the information just like they will on the job.

Here’s a fictional example. Extraterrestrials have landed and are being incorporated into earthling families. As a result, employers have created alien leave policies. Here’s a mini-scenario for managers.

Mini-scenario for alien leave

To answer this question, what information does the manager need? The alien leave policy. How should we provide it?

The traditional approach would be to first present a bunch of slides about the policy. Then we’d give people a chance to “apply” what they’ve “learned” by having them use their short-term memory to answer the question.

Lots of slides followed by activity

But why design slides to present information that’s already in a policy on the intranet?

Instead, we can plunge people into the activity and let them use the policy just like they will on the job.

Instead of presentation, just an activity that links to info

Same activity with link to policy

And now that we aren’t developing lots of information slides, we can create more activities. Since they aren’t trapped inside an information presentation, they can travel alone. For example, we can provide them individually over time (spaced practice) as described in this post.

6. Sell it with a prototype

Create a prototype of one typical activity and show it to the stakeholders. Make clear that people will see only the activities that apply to their job. They’ll pull information rather than recognizing what they saw three slides ago, and they’ll learn from the consequences of their choices.

You’re letting the stakeholders see for themselves how you plan to provide the “training,” because then you’ll be in a good position to respond to the following common concerns.

“But everyone must be exposed to all the information!”

Give each option unique feedback. In that feedback, first show the consequence of the choice — continue the story.

Then show the snippet of information they should have looked at, as described in How to really involve learners. Do this for all consequences, not just the poor ones.

See more ideas and examples in Scenario mistakes to avoid: Eager-beaver feedback.

If you have a stakeholder who’s determined to expose everyone, you can point out that they are now exposed. They’re just exposed after making a relevant decision, rather than in a forgettable presentation.

By not presenting information first, you’re helping people see their own knowledge gaps. They’re not pulling stuff out of short-term memory, because you haven’t put anything there. They have to rummage around in their existing knowledge, look at the policy just like they would in real life, make a choice, and learn from the consequences. They get deeper learning, plus they’re dutifully “exposed” to the correct information.

“But they have to prove that they know it!”

Which approach is more likely to avoid lawsuits about misuse of the alien leave policy?

A. Present the policy over several slides. Then require a knowledge test to see if people can recognize a bit of information that they saw 5 minutes ago. If they can, they “pass.” If they can’t, they must put those same slides back in their short-term memory and try again.

B. Present challenges in which people need to make the same decisions they make on the job. Provide the information in the same format that people will have it on the job. Start with easy-ish decisions and increase the challenge. If people make good decisions in enough activities, they’re free to go. If they make not-good decisions, they get more activities and optional help until they make good decisions.

My point

Don’t design for “They should know the rules.” Design for “They should correctly apply the rules on the job.”

For lots more, see my book and just about everything in this blog, especially the following posts.


Photo of Jorge: David Boyle in DC via Compfight cc

All other images: Cathy Moore

3 Instructional Design Strategies To Increase Employee Buy-In For A New Initiative

Employee buy-in is one of the most important factors affecting the successful implementation of an organizational initiative. In this article, I will present 3 strategies to consider when developing training that will maximize employee buy-in for a new initiative. This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Creative Instructional Design: Featuring 3 Innovative Onboarding And Induction Examples

All of us are aware of the impact of well-designed onboarding and induction programs. Today, several organizations prefer an eLearning-based approach to deliver them. They seek learning strategies that can deliver high impact programs that can induct new team members quickly and efficiently. With changes in learner demographics that now include Millennials in significant numbers, organizations are looking at more engaging and immersive formats that appeal to this profile.

3 Innovative Onboarding And Induction Examples Of Creative Instructional Design

In this article, I will outline sticky learning designs featuring the creative Instructional Design approaches through 3 examples. These examples feature learning strategies ranging from gamification to active learning and the more recent microlearning (uses video-based nuggets and guided exploration). I have picked these examples from diverse industry verticals like Insurance, Oil and Gas, and eLearning.

What Are The Advantages Of Well-Designed Onboarding And Induction Programs?

Well-designed onboarding and induction programs provide new team members with a quick understanding of their role and what the organization/employer expects from them.

    • Investment in such programs results in a shorter learning curve owing to quicker and better comprehension of the required knowledge and skills, faster coordination, interaction, and communication with others when compared to achieving of these objectives without a program.
  • Effective onboarding and induction programs also enhance the productivity of employees in a company in a short span saving the organization the trouble of waiting for the new employees to familiarize themselves with their jobs. They also prove beneficial in reducing lower employee turnover due to lack of information or clarity in expectations.

What Learning Approaches Can Enhance The Impact Of Onboarding And Induction Programs?

In the last 13+ years, we have created hundreds of onboarding and induction eLearning and mobile learning or mLearning courses. Over the last year particularly, there is a clear shift towards responsive designs to offer these programs on tablets and smartphones.

I have selected 3 onboarding and induction examples that use very different learning strategies:

    • Gamification.
    • Active learning.
  • Microlearning nuggets (extensive usage of videos and guided exploration).

Onboarding And Induction Example 1: Gamification (Industry Vertical – Insurance)

This is my favorite example that showcases how you can use gamification for an induction program. We chose the 100 days onboarding and induction plan to map to a theme of a mission that needed learners to clear various levels within the stipulated time. It also had leaderboards to enable them to assess how they are faring against the other team members.

You can also refer to my earlier article What Are The Benefits Of mLearning? Featuring 5 Killer Examples where this example had appeared first.



Onboarding And Induction Example 2: Active Learning (Industry Vertical – Oil And Gas)

This example features industry-specific, high impact visuals. Our customer needed to train their globally spread out workforce from different geographies, different cultures, and of course varied age groups. We felt the thread of the specific industry-based visuals would be the right approach to engage all employees in spite of this diversity.

EI Design Onboarding and Induction oil and gas 1

EI Design Onboarding and Induction oil and gas 2

Onboarding And Induction Example 3: Microlearning (Featuring Video-Based Nuggets) And Guided Exploration (Industry Vertical – eLearning)

This example is from our own onboarding and induction program. This features microlearning media pieces (largely videos) and guided exploration through very simple and intuitive interactivities. Action images of team members and video nuggets make the learning interesting, sticky, and easy to internalize.

New team members are enrolled to the onboarding and induction program on day 1 of joining with the flexibility to access it on the device of their choice. The course uses a responsive design and can be accessed on tablets and smartphones as well. The average age in our organization is 28 and we have taken this approach (videos, microlearning, learning path that can be customized, and so on) that appeals to this age group. We have used photographs of our facility, our team members, and our advisors so that new team members can easily connect and get integrated into the organization.

EI Design Onboarding and Induction 1

EI Design Onboarding and Induction 2

EI Design Onboarding and Induction 3

I hope this article helps you visualize how you can enhance your existing onboarding and induction program. At EI Design, we have a wide range of custom solutions that can create high impact eLearning and mLearning programs for any industry vertical. Each of these uses creative Instructional Design approaches that make the learning stick. Do contact us if you have any questions.


The post Creative Instructional Design: Featuring 3 Innovative Onboarding And Induction Examples appeared first on eLearning.