Years and years back, Plato proposed the question: How does an individual learn something new when the topic is brand new to that person? Plato answered his own question by stating that knowledge is present at birth and all information learned by a person is merely a recollection of something the soul has already learned previously, which is called the Theory of Recollection or Platonic epistemology. And John Locke as an answer to the question offered the "blank slate" theory which states that humans are born into the world with no innate knowledge.
As L&D professionals we often stumble upon this very question, drown deep in learning theories to find the right answers. But what we often miss out in the search for greater enlightenment are the little things. The tiny keys to making eLearning strategies effective. While the learning design and models do play their part, there are other factors too that make or break a learning strategy and set the premise for effective learning. Here are some key tips to implement effective eLearning strategies.
#Tip 1: Know Your Learners/Audience Well
The learners today are no longer the same. Think of it like this, the employees today comprise of a generation born in the internet era, who are tech-savvy, live in a fast-paced world, have been introduced to games like Pokémon Go, Assassin’s Creed and PUBG. For such a demographic the same old mundane eLearning would no longer work. Learning today has to be intuitive, innovative, engaging and multi-device.
Not just that, for the eLearning strategy to be effective, enough groundwork should be done in terms of understanding the learners. For instance, what do the learners already know? What do they expect from the learning? Knowing the specific skill levels, the required skill-sets, technical know-how, and job roles can assist in clearly identifying the skill gaps and working towards patching the performance gaps.
So, communicate, create a rough layout of the learning model and ask few learners (sample population) to share their inputs, or you can even conduct informal interviews, and surveys to find all that you need to know.
#Tip 2: Set a Clear Learning Goal
Might sound like a no brainer, but sometimes thinking at a broad level tends to create a glorified picture rather than a practical one. Having clarity about the learning goal can help in making the learning strategy effective. Start with smaller goals like improving skill sets, move on to behavioral changes. Then move on to the short-term and long-term goals that are to be achieved and map those with the output or performance of the organization.
The key, however, is to balance the envisaged goals with the budget and the infrastructure.
#Tip 3: Build on Prior Knowledge
Prior knowledge sets a base for learning and this is in fact supported by the Constructivism theory of learning. According to Constructivism, “we construct learning new ideas based on our own prior knowledge and experiences.” Why would this approach make the eLearning strategy effective? Because it would affect retention. Building on the concepts that have been covered earlier or setting a premise based on the experiences of the learners gives them a point to associate with, strengthening the effectiveness of learning and improving performance through better application of the knowledge.
#Tip 4: Use Assessments Efficiently
Adding quizzes makes a difference in the impact of learning. Quizzes or assessments focus on testing the learner’s understanding, retention and capability to apply the knowledge. It also can encourage learners to learn actively. While there are many ways of incorporating assessments in the eLearning modules, the trick is to be subtle at doing so. Don’t add too many quizzes -stick to moderate numbers (as necessary). And design the learning strategy in such a way that the quizzes do not impact the overall flow but rather enhance it. Take for instance quizzes linked with interactions and follow up actions as used in interactive videos.
Quizzes, multiple choice questions, or tests for checking the conceptual understanding should all aim to reinforce information and track the progress.
#Tip 5: Provide Equal Opportunity
Plato believed that education is the foundation of a just society and strongly advocated that providing equal opportunity to everyone was the way to achieve such a society. In an organizational level, it would mean making learning accessible to all. The employees who are at the workplace, the employees who have to travel around, the employees working at remote areas, the employees who speak different languages, not to forget parity irrespective of age, color, race or gender. Inclusiveness is the key to the effectiveness of learning strategy in the global workplace.
Learning in modern workplaces is no longer just about delivering eLearning, but about ensuring that the knowledge imparted is relevant and is accepted by the learners. The efforts of the L&D team, the training service providers and the leaders who share the vision of improving the organizational performance, all point in the same direction and work towards creating a skilled pool of talented employees through effective eLearning. The strategies hence, should all be directed towards creating a learning ecosystem that supports learning and delivers the envisaged objectives.