“You know certain times in your career you meet individuals or companies that stand out from the rest. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jillian and Shannon on a fairly in-depth and complicated project with a lot of stakeholders and shifting targets. They’ve adapted very quickly to the project demands and have done so with a level of professionalism that makes the personal care they provided a unique bonus. IdeaLearning Group has the ability to understand what you need and deliver beyond what you’ve expected. I’ve enjoyed working with both Shannon & Jillian and will take the experience they provided me as my new benchmark for vendor qualification.” May 18, 2012- Andrew Segers
Posts Tagged ‘e_Learning’
Although online learning is hardly new, it’s still a bit of a bandwagon issue for some organizations. Some companies feel compelled to go with online learning because it’s “the thing to do.” But for other organizations, it’s a vital mode of learning that can supplement face-to-face-instruction or even stand in place of it.
But we’re not here to debate whether or not elearning is superior to classroom learning. The fact is elearning is here to stay. The demand is growing for mobile training that’s accessible anywhere, anytime. In fact, one of the most popular requests we receive is to transform classroom materials for online learning.
Before starting the process of converting materials, the big question is: what’s the actual purpose of the elearning? Will it replace the classroom training, or will it supplement it? This is a very important question, because it affects the overall direction you take.
For example, the curriculum might require participants to complete a classroom portion first, with the elearning available as a refresher or as a just-in-time resource. In this case, the online course doesn’t need to include every detail from the face-to-face training materials. But if the elearning is designed as a standalone experience that replaces the classroom learning, you’ll need to carefully construct the course so that all the essential details are included—without overwhelming the learners.
- Organize the content in a logical manner for elearning. This doesn’t mean copying the script from the PowerPoint file onto the screen and inserting the “Next” button every now and then. Start with writing learning objectives, and organize your course so that each section maps to an objective. You don’t necessarily need to reveal the objectives on screen. Consider “what’s in it for me?” language to pique their interest. For example, compare these two:
“At the end of this course, you should be able to create your intuitive exercise program using our four-part proprietary method.” versus “How do I create a custom exercise program that’s easy to follow?”
- Adapt the tone for online learning. If you’re addressing a wide range of learners with various levels of experience, the elearning should be broad enough to engage them all without isolating anyone. Adjust the tone accordingly if you know your audience is primarily made up of either experts or novices.
- Create content layers. One of the great benefits of elearning is that it easily accommodates people’s various learning modes. People read differently online than on paper; online, they rarely scroll down past the “fold” of the page. Unlike chapters in a book, elearning content doesn’t need to be available on the same level. The essentials should be included in the main content areas of an online course. Secondary information can be discovered through rollover or clickable areas. And third-level content can be organized as PDF files in a resource library for on-demand access. Keep in mind that arranging content into layers doesn’t mean you should bury it; an intuitive navigation design makes it easily accessible.
- Give learners choices for exploring content. It’s fine to provide a map, but forcing learners down a one-way road with no opportunity for side trips just promotes falling asleep at the wheel. There are exceptions, however, such as when you’re trying to teach a compliance process that must be followed in a particular order.
- Give learners the chance to practice what they’ve learned. We can’t emphasize this enough. Just like with classroom training, practice doesn’t just entail answering multiple-choice questions. It could be a game, a scenario, or a quest. A good online practice exercise sets up an appropriate context, gives the learners a challenge to solve, and helps connect what they’ve learned to real-life ways they can apply that information.
- Take advantage of the opportunity to give learners feedback on their progress. Although scripted feedback can’t really replace real, live human feedback, try to make it as meaningful and relevant as possible. For example, in a branching scenario that gives learners multiple options, create custom feedback for each option they choose. In other words, don’t just tell them the choice is correct or incorrect, but tell them why.
No matter what your reason is for converting classroom materials to online learning—budget, time, efficiency, or geographical constraints—working with a team that specializes in elearning development will help you create the best experience for your learners.
When we started IdeaLearning Group, we asked ourselves this question: Do we want to facilitate training or learning? What is the difference between training and learning? We decided early on that we’re in the business of learning.
Although organizations often use the words interchangeably, we view “training” as the process of shaping into a desired form (like “training a plant”) and “learning” as the inspired process of acquiring knowledge and skills through experience. It’s also sometimes used to imply a sort of mindless learning, training isn’t a bad word or concept. The problem is that it’s too restrictive. When we think of training, we think of adherence, testing, drills, exercises, and standards. When we’re being formally trained, we’re being groomed to perform according to a set of expectations.
“Learning” is a generous canopy. When we think of learning, the following comes to mind: thinking, exploration, absorption, creativity, purpose, education, curiosity, and growth. When we’re learning–formally or informally–we’re not only acquiring new knowledge and skills, we’re also blazing a new path by cultivating our own understanding.
There is a time and place for training. We view training as one component of the learning plan. For example, a company’s employees might need to learn about compliance requirements or processes. But to make the learning a comprehensive experience, we also must provide opportunities to modify behavior and on-the-job performance. There’s definitely an opportunity for skills training here, but learners also need to practice what they’ve learned and demonstrate their knowledge in meaningful ways in order to round out the learning experience.
Sometimes our new clients approach us with a solution already in mind. When one of our clients requested a one-day classroom training session about their confusing interview process, we helped them step back to discover the bigger picture. Our learning solution was a blended approach that included an online overview piece that prepared learners for a shift in thinking about how they interview and hire employees. It also included face-to-face learning, elearning modules and a robust learning library hosted on their intranet. Our solution offered so much more than “training”—it was a context-based, exploratory program that addressed not only processes, but also company culture, values and adaptability.
According to an article from the non-profit Computer Education Management Association, “Training is a core step in the process of learning, but it is not learning itself. Even training that leads to a proof of mastery or certification cannot be labeled as learning. To learn is to do, to apply, to morph and adapt to the knowledge or skill acquired in training to the circumstance.” So training is part of the solution, but it’s not the whole solution. Learning simply goes beyond training.
So what would happen if more training departments changed their names to “learning centers”? What if they renamed the “training toolbox” the “learning library”? For one, the focus would shift more toward the learners’ needs and perspectives.
“Training versus learning” is not just about semantics. Training is event-driven, and learning is about experience. We’d love to find out how you think of the difference between training and learning in your organization.