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Adding Zing to eLearning Courses

Travelling often brings us close to certain situations where your wit overpowers money or manpower. Lone travelers often end up viewing various issues in a different light, thanks to the influence of co-passengers and the entire travel experience. I experienced something similar during my small trip over the last weekend. And, over a short conversation I realized that the learners often perceive things differently no matter how strategically it has been conceived.

Here's the conversation that persuaded me to look at the eLearning content design in a different light.

Co-passenger: Oh! So, you really help in creating eLearning?

Me: Yes, I do at times.

Co-passenger: The content and stuff?

Me: Well, we do conduct our own research and collect data, and with the help of subject experts (SMEs).

Co-passenger: Oh, that’s how.(After an awkward pause) But, don’t you think eventually most of the courses look almost the same. It’s the same next-back button, some texts and a few images interspersed here and there. At times I feel that just different topics are crammed into the same old structure.

Me: Well, you see that’s not always the case.

But, before I get to explain it in detail, my co-passenger gets off and my conversation ends with a wave and the bubbling answers in my head.

However, after giving it a thought, the realization hit me. She was probably right, we do end up creating the same feel, trying to maintain consistency, keeping in mind the branding requirements etc. and that could be perceived as monotonous and mundane by the learners. After all, Versatility and innovation is what learners crave for among other aspects in a modern learning environment.

So, how do we as Learning Content creators, learning service providers add zing to the learning content? Here are my thoughts.

Put the Learners in Charge

How can you leave it to the learners? Don’t we need to push? Well, no if the course does its work. The key is to allow the learners to learn as they do, exploring experimenting and learning from their mistakes rather than spoon-feeding them. How does this work? By creating a good scenario or story that the learners can relate with and giving them full control in the course of actions.

Here’s a sample course by SmartBuilder that does something similar-http://www.smartbuilder.com/examples/Patient_Management/player.php

Simulated Hand on Experience is the Key

Unicorns running on the field may not be the best entities in a safety training course. Well, if that doesn’t explain it then let’s just put it plainly. At times learners need to learn using the exact same models, the exact work scenarios etc. for understanding how to perform well. In such cases give them just what they need, relevant content and practical scenarios that assists the learners in getting their job done. Crisp images-highlights etc. to help the learners find what they are looking for, true on-the-job references, support etc. too help in delivering good performance support training.

Make it Fun

Wow! How does that go with the above mentioned points? Buttons, navigation, interface etc. play a key role in learner satisfaction. Using bright and bold visual designs, simple yet attractive interface, balancing between style and content value are the initial elements. Score boards, funny interactive feedback, interesting visuals etc. can add up the FUN co-efficient in eLearning. Check out some 2D games for science lovers at the Official website of the Nobel Prize. The games here may seem silly because of the funny graphics used, however the content and its relevance cannot be ignored.The silliness definitely has a fun factor that keeps one engaged.

As learning content creators, we often tend to forget that the eLearning we create is for the learners and not for the trainers and SMEs. While content, context, instructional soundness, organization’s branding requirements etc. do matter, in the end it all boils down to how the learners accept it, how they interact with the content, how they learn and how much they retain. For creating a successful and engaging eLearning, understanding and analyzing the learners is a step that should not be sidestepped.

So, maybe we should start by asking the learners what they want.

What are your thoughts? Do share your opinions and feed backs.

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