6 New Year Resolutions to Become a More Effective eLearning Professional
The start of a new year is a time for envisioning a better YOU and setting intentions for the road ahead. It is a time for making resolutions so that you can be your best version, both personally and professionally. As an instructional designer, this is your chance to look closely at how you work and set resolutions that will help you become a more effective professional.
Below are 6 resolutions that you can make this year to boost your ID skills and deliver inspiring and memorable learning experiences to your audience:
Resolution 1: Choose quality over quantity.
Respect your learners’ time, ditch quantity and serve them only QUALITY.
Do not churn out eLearning courses in mindless numbers just because you have to meet deadlines or reach some numbers. This is the perfect recipe for learning disaster. Instead, focus on creating a few high-quality courses that deliver lasting value. Aim for meaningful activities, not more information; simple yet purposeful graphics, not complicated and flashy images and videos.
As you go the “less-is-more” way, here are some tips to help you create meaningful courses:
- Carry out a thorough training needs analysis to gauge learner requirements and expectations. This ensures your courses have laser focus and deliver true value to learners.
- Create micro-learning moments. This is the perfect way reach employees where they are — providing real-time learning, in short, compelling content bursts. The Millennial learner is used to consuming content in bite-sized pieces (140-character tweets, one-line FB updates, or emoticons that convey a range of feelings), and you MUST be present during the myriad of micro-learning moments that arise during a typical day of your learner’s life.
- Create a culture of self-learning by providing employees the tools that let them take charge of their learning.
- Embrace new technology that lets you deliver on-demand training wherever the learner is and whatever the device he is on. This is critical to the success of a culture of self-paced learning that you want to create within the organization.
Resolution 2: Rethink and revamp your eLearning design approach
You have been creating courses for so long. You've mulled ID strategies, obsessed over gamification, and pondered interactive elements. You've been worried about how the course looks and whether the scenarios read naturally.
Now take a U-turn, and design an INTEGRATED learning experience.
From this year, step into the learners’ shoes, see through their eyes and think like they do. Focus on taking your workers on a learning journey. Concentrate on the learning experience as a whole instead of pondering how you will create and present separate elements like a video, a podcast, or a blog.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Go beyond the requirements of a traditional curriculum where you would think only about completing modules and measuring performance on assignments. Focus on the learner’s workplace realities, what was his or her life like before taking the course and how will it change afterward, and the environment in which he or she will take the course.
- Design to overcome the confines of conventional curriculum design. For instance, a striking limitation of traditional curriculum design is that it does not allow for modifications based on learner performance, so learners may be compelled to carry on listening to a lecture even if they have not understood what has gone before. You can transcend these limitations by designing eLearning courses that, for example, let learners skip and retake modules.
- Empower learners to take charge of the learning journey by giving them access to tools and technology they use everyday. For instance, you may incorporate features like bookmarking pages (https://getpocket.com/) or note-taking apps that content that learners can refer to later (https://evernote.com/).
- Do not simply convert classroom lectures or training room presentations into online learning content. Explore and exploit the scope of the latest media and learning tools to design experiences. For instance, use the sophisticated features of learning management systems to roll out modules based on the job description the learner keys in. Read: 3 Big Don’ts When Converting Instructor-Led Training to eLearning
Resolution 3: Strive for alignment; it creates focus and relevance
According to a study by the Brandon Hall Group and Halogen Software, 60 percent of the learning delivered to the workforce is not aligned with organizational goals. Now just calculate the amount of your effort that has gone to waste and the number of hours your audience has spent learning something that they will not need at the workplace. You are cringing, right?
There is only one way you can remedy this situation. Align your courses with the organizational goals. Focused courses empower employees to deliver value at the workplace and perform, to a high standard, those tasks that are required of them.
Here are some tips to help you create aligned courses:
- Communicate with the C-suite to gain a clear understanding of the organizational goals.
- Carry out a thorough training needs analysis to learn about the job responsibilities of the learners, their skill and knowledge gaps, and the challenges they currently face in the workplace.
- Bring functional managers on board to learn about the performance parameters your learners will be evaluated upon.
Resolution 4: Make the most of the data you have with you.
This is the Age of Big Data.
Leave aside guesswork. Stop relying on hunches. Instead use Experience API (xAPI) analytics to glean valuable insights like:
- How learners engage with the content
- If learners struggled to engage with the content
- What devices learners use to access your training modules
- If learners altered behaviors or tweaked mindsets after taking a course
You can gain many more insights into learner behavior using xAPI analytics. The knowledge will reveal how you can improve user “experience” and deliver more meaning and lasting value. Here are some ideas on how to make the most of the analytics:
- Use analytics gleaned from an earlier module to design and develop future modules.
- Tweak your instructional strategy to increase clarity. For instance, you can include more examples or analogies in the new module that you are developing or repurpose content to suit varied learning styles.
- Rethink delivery platforms to reach the largest number of learners. For instance, you can adopt mLearning to satisfy audience need for on-demand learning.
Resolution 5: Use media in novel ways.
Yes, you can get stuck in the training rut. In the mad scramble to meet deadlines, you forget to look around and miss all the exciting new developments taking place in the L&D world. As a result, the courses you create look dull and lifeless.
This year, commit to embracing the NEW. Start by looking at all the different ways you can use media to breathe fire into your eLearning courses. Below are some exciting ways you can present content that will engage learners more than a hunk of text ever can:
- Use visual content like infographics, videos, and animations. Visual media is not only more engaging than blocks of text but also more instructionally effective because your audience comprises a large number of visual learners. (Recommended Read: 10 Types of Visual Content to Improve Learner Engagement)
- Gamify content. Learn more about Gamification in eLearning here. And here’s a post on 6 examples of Gamification in eLearning to give you ideas.
- Exploit new and sophisticated authoring tools to collate stories, curated content, and interactive elements and blend these disparate pieces of content into a unified gamification layer.
Don’t fret, incorporating these new media in your courses won’t drive up costs necessarily. Courtesy the latest technological advances, maximum-impact eLearning is now also cost-effective.
Resolution 6: Keep learning
You cannot survive in a dynamic and fiercely competitive marketplace if you cannot evolve with the times and changing learner needs.
Innovation is the key to thriving.
You have to keep learning. You have to be on top of trends and at the forefront of the ideological, design, and technological developments that are shaping the eLearning industry.
Just as you make sure that your audience is keeping up with what’s happening in their niches, ensure that you are also not lagging. Here are some ways in which you can keep up with the learning process:
- Network, both virtually and offline, with L&D professionals to keep up with industry trends.
- Subscribe to trade magazines and browse the internet to learn about what’s taking place in the L&D world. To help you get started, here’s a resource to help you use the latest technology to drive learner engagement and another post on the latest learning tech trends.
- Interact with graphic designers, writers and editors, musicians, and programmers even if they are not into L&D to learn how you can use media and technology to make your courses readable, aesthetically pleasing, instructionally sound, and technically viable.
- Invest in online courses, attend seminars, and take part in workshops to up your game.
- Get up from the desk and if need be, get out of the office and try to mingle with your target audience. Observe them at work to learn more about their situation; this is one of the most effective ways to carry out audience analysis.
- Don’t let your creative juices dry out. Read this post to find out how you can keep your creative mojo flowing, and this post on tips to help you find design inspiration.
New Year resolutions are hard to keep. But don’t let the training goals mentioned above disappear into oblivion. Sticking to goals is easy when you have the big picture in mind and can envision the results of your efforts. So motivate yourself by remembering why you are here and the purpose you have embraced.