I found this great article, “You Want E-Learning Success, But Are You Prepared to Go All the Way?” by Tom Kuhlman on The Rapid E-Learning Blog. Tom outlines three key areas to consider before and after building online learning: Motivated to Learn, The E-Learning Course, and Support Ongoing Learning.
When thinking about your learners/audience, I found it interesting that Tom pointed out that if you have a highly motivated learner, your design can be very simple and rich in information. I myself have tackled a peer-reviewed article, rich in statistics, with no pictures, just because it’s something that I’m interested in. I will even have it open in one window and Google opened in another window so that I can continually look up things that I don’t know or understand. Usually, I’m not that motivated though. I’m just curious or I want to “get the gist” of what someone is talking about. I think most learners are like that and Tom’s three tips are valuable – keep the course relevant, practical and as short as possible.
When actually designing the E-Learning course, Tom suggests three areas to focus on – content, look, use of the content for the learner. I have been participating in lots of online learning events and webinars lately. Generally, it’s not for the content but rather to see how they are designed. It amazes me that some of the big, snazzy webinars are so poorly constructed. One that comes to mind is an online webinar put on by Ancestry.com about finding Irish Ancestors. I am a novice genealogist and have a rich Irish ancestry so I was actually intrigued. With all the hype about genealogy right now with the online tools and “Who Do U Think U R?” television show, I was also prepared for a good dose of marketing. That’s just about all I got out of it. It wasn’t 10 minutes into the presentation before I had another window open, surfing the web for things not related to genealogy or Irish ancestry at all. I half-listened to the entire thing though and came away with nothing. It was pure marketing, no content or application for me. I was so frustrated that they had marketed their marketing as education.
Ongoing support is crucial – I don’t think any trainer or educator doubts this. I like Tom’s ideas for making the learning relevant and useful, even after the training is over. Getting managers involved and using social media might be tough sells, depending on the organization. But, I think as time goes on, these will become the norm rather than the exception. I choose to stay ahead of the curve and at least promote these methods!
If you haven’t checked out The Rapid E-Learning Blog and your serious about designing online learning, it is definitely worth your time!