The Business of Learning - learning ecosystems

One of the trends I’ve noticed lately is that we’re getting quite a few requests to upgrade, improve, or modernize existing learning programs instead of creating new programs. It’s not that we’ve never had clients who needed this before, it’s just that suddenly it seems like it’s a lot more common of a need.

With these requests, I’ve noticed a couple of themes and FAQs worth discussing.

“We’re getting a lot of feedback that this training series looks ‘dated,’ but the content is still relevant. Is there any way to fix this?”

Just as we have the concept of “dog years,” where every year of a dog’s life equals about 7 years of a human’s, I’m going to introduce the concept of learning years. Now, we can debate the exact multiplier, but the point is that everything ages — and training courses are no different. Especially when it comes to eLearning.

We have a very keen eye for things that just look “dated” because so much of what we look at is new. We get very used to media-enhanced, engaging forms of communication because that’s what we are bombarded with during almost every minute of our daily non-work lives. So, just as a website that’s been left alone for 10 years will appear dated for reasons that may be hard to put your finger on exactly, so will an eLearning course.

The good news is that this can be a relatively easy makeover. Apply a modern, well-thought-out new visual look/feel, modernize or add new interactivity, maybe even change some text-heavy content to video or audio.

But as long as we’re there…. This might be a great opportunity to ask how well is the course meeting its goals? Is it delivering what’s expected in terms of learning? If not, a learning strategy and instructional design tune-up may be in order.

“We have to deliver this course every year because it’s required by [insert regulatory body here]. Our employees complain that it’s soooooo boring and we’re afraid that nobody’s really paying attention. Can anything be done about this?”

Shockingly, yes! There’s an urban legend out there that says that formula is: mandatory + training = total boredom. And that’s just how it is, as if it’s a law of physics or something.

It doesn’t have to be this way, folks.

One of the things apparent with many regulatory and compliance training programs is that once they’re developed, approved, reviewed, revised, reviewed again, revised again, reviewed again (you get the picture) and finally approved, organizations tend to be very hesitant to change them. Creating them was painful enough, after all. Can’t we just use the same course forever? Unfortunately, no. Not if you want different results.

Look, here’s the good news. Not only does mandatory or compliance training not have to be boring, it shouldn’t be boring. For everyone’s sake. The company has a vested interest in keeping the learning engaging because of what’s at stake if the employee does not do whatever the training is teaching them to do. The employee is simply going to learn better and retain more if the learning is engaging. Classic win-win situation.

No type of content is preordained to be boring. Making learning experiences engaging requires creativity and knowledge, but it can be done.

Buried under an an avalanche of work.

“Can you convert a classroom training course (or series of courses) into eLearning?”   

We can, but “convert” is not the word I’d use to describe this process.

In fact, I always get a little worried when I hear the word “convert” because to me that implies a quick and straightforward path from the old instructor-led course to the new eLearning course.

The word I think more accurately describes the process of taking learning from one delivery media to another is “redevelop.” The redevelopment process is certainly accelerated compared to developing content from scratch, but if you think about what you can do (and how you do it) in a classroom setting versus in an eLearning course, certain elements of every course are going to have to be redesigned to work within the new delivery media.

For example, many classroom courses have group activities. You can’t really do the same thing in an eLearning course, so to achieve the same learning result that activity has to be redesigned as an eLearning interaction.

And, even if the redevelopment process is very straightforward, many times our clients also want to take the opportunity to make content changes as long as the course is being redone. So, again, the process is often more involved than just a straight line from Point A to Point B. 

 

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