We’ve all been guilty of creating a course at some point that’s basically a glorified Power Point presentation. You present the information over a series of slides, then you give the users a quiz in hopes that they can regurgitate all the information they’ve skimmed over. While this is a quick and easy way to create courses, you might be shooting yourself in the foot in the long run by having to re-train people due to lack of comprehension, or by having under-qualified trainees that didn’t retain the information.
Rather than setting out to create a course, the real objective should be to create a learning experience. This means the course presents users with memorable content, unique training methods, and challenging, interactive scenarios that apply to their real life applications. Don’t let Power Point, or any other authoring tool for that matter, confine you! The possibilities for your course are endless, so take advantage of the opportunity and create a course that users will really learn something from, rather than something they feel forced to ‘get through’. Below are just a few ideas that can help send your courses in the right direction.
Branching scenarios present users with a series of choices with realistic consequences. Rather than simply telling the user that they should answer the phone with an appropriate salutation, ask the member what they need help with, then proceed to access the appropriate troubleshooting information, a branching scenario would put the user into the action by presenting them with choices.
‘How would you answer the phone?’
- ‘Hello this is Sarah, thanks for calling AAA! How can I assist you today?’
- ‘Hello, could I have your name please?’
Giving users choices like this without prefacing them with a step-by-step tutorial shows that you trust the user’s intelligence and common sense by allowing them to make mistakes. If they choose the incorrect response, then you can present another scenario, which might lead to another scenario where the conversation starts going sour and the member becomes frustrated with the user. Showing the consequences of their actions gives users a sense of responsibility and creates a memorable experience.
Not everything has to be linear. Sometimes the most effective way to train is just to set users free in an environment and let them explore. This gives users choices and a sense of control, and lets them learn in the order they’d like to learn.
An example of this would be in a course where your goal is to teach users how to use their new work phone, you present an image of the phone and create interactions where each of the buttons pops up information on what the button does. You present this to the user with a simple guidance such as ‘explore the features of your new phone by clicking the buttons’ and let them click each button at their leisure. This is an organic method of learning that snaps users out of skimming through linear content.
In the world of e-learning, humor seems to have almost become a ‘bad word’. Course creators tend to shy away from humor in an attempt to avoid offending anyone, which is a valid thought process, you certainly don’t want to go so far as to offend your users, but when used correctly humor can be a powerful training tool. Using jokes or comical imagery can help snap users out of the monotony of corporate courses and create a more memorable experience. So next time you’re creating a course, see if you can find a couple spots to insert some tasteful humor, your learners will appreciate it!
Challenging your users
Not everything has to be spoon-fed keywords and step-by-step hand holding, most of the time it’s more effective to challenge users with content that makes them think, and that they might even get wrong the first time through. Making mistakes is one of the biggest parts of the learning process, so why are we so scared to let our learners make them?
The bottom line
Let’s face it, it’s easy to fall into the trap of dumping information into slides and creating a monotonous e-learning course. The above examples are just a few things you can do to innovate your training, but the possibilities are truly endless. It’s important to force yourself to think outside the box and really figure out what’s going to cause your learners to, well… learn.