eLearning is getting a bad reputation. Learners, instructional designers and developers are frustrated. It’s time for us to improve eLearning. It means pushing back, thinking broadly, and innovating. Here are 10 ways we can do this. Add your ideas below.
1. Question eLearning
Is a full-blown eLearning course really the solution to your problem? Will it actually improve performance or does the issue lie elsewhere? What about fixing poorly made software or making processes more efficient? Will mentoring new employees or job aids work?
Sometimes organizations think one approach will solve all problems. One way to help clients identify what they really need is to use the Five Moments of Need model by Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson.
2. Push Back
You’re the learning expert, so don’t blindly accept every request, suggestion or demand you get from course sponsors. Instead, help them think it through in terms of the learners and the goal. Will adding two more hours of extraneous content really help employees be more effective? Will this extra material clarify or confuse students?
3. Know Your Theory
It’s hard to convince and persuade without a good foundation. Study learning theory and cognitive psychology. Then you’ll have solid reasons for making choices. It’s amazing how much easier it is to convince SMEs to prune content when you tell them about the limits of working memory. (It’s like a sieve.)
4. Engage in Design Thinking
It’s not easy to be creative on demand, but it’s easier when you use Design Thinking strategies. This is one paradigm missing from the ADDIE model. Design Thinking will help you innovate and create more engaging experiences. See Is design thinking missing from ADDIE? for some techniques.
5. Visualize Everything
Visual thinking opens up new pathways. It’s one of the best ways to communicate as more resources are devoted to the visual sense than any other. Help people learn with graphs, diagrams, illustrations, timelines and maps. Ask learners to visualize and sketch.
6. Get Out of Your Design Rut
Instructional content often needs to be linear to build a foundation. But eLearning courses often go beyond this to make things overly lock-step. Try mixing it up by giving learners more options. Go beyond linear eLearning with interactive branching and learner-selected paths. Or go wildly different and use Thiagi’s Four-door Model, which has separate components that learners can try out in any order.
Give learners context and improve learning transfer with stories and scenarios. Improve motivation through games. Use social media for discussions and knowledge sharing.
7. Make Prototypes to Communicate
Have you noticed how difficult it is for people to visualize what you mean just by talking? If you make prototypes showing the look, feel and interactions your dreaming up, decision-makers will be more likely to accept innovation.
8. Learn From Other Fields
Although at times it seems that instructional design is it’s own universe, the cognitive psychology on which it’s based overlaps with many fields. Check out user experience design, information design, user interface design, content marketing and information architecture, to name a few. Then apply new strategies you’ve learned elsewhere to your eLearning.
9. Think Beyond SCORM
There’s a wonderfully flexible standard for learning management coming to your neighborhood. It will help us all design and develop in a more flexible universe, across devices, through all types of learning and meeting 21st century needs. Check out Thoughts on Tin Can and the Tin Can API for more on this.
10. Your Idea Goes Here
Scroll down to the Comments section to see all the ideas that have been added. Then share your idea.
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