How to Make Your e-Learning Resonate

The number of companies focused on implementing a strong e-learning strategy is growing.

And we don’t blame them.

Not only does it increase performance and productivity, but e-learning also saves 20% more in the first year of implementation compared to traditional classroom training.

But a switch to digital learning is not just about employee performance. It’s also business results. E-learning generates 26% more revenue per employee when combined with on-the-job training.

These numbers don’t work with traditional styles of e-learning modules. It’s now about engaging employees and learning how they digest information and translate it to useful skills. It’s about changing the narrative from mundane training days to one that gets your employees excited to learn.

  1. Start with your company’s business goals
    To design e-learning that resonates, start by focusing on your company’s business goals. Whether it’s raising sales, increasing customer satisfaction, or improving your company’s culture, clarify how the business will be improved by developing more e-learning experiences. Then tell your employees about it. Knowing exactly how the time and energy they will invest in e-learning will impact the business as a whole will motivate them to engage with the material more deeply.
  2. Focus on what people need to DO, not on what they need to know
    Next, dig into your design by answering this question: What do people need to do differently to achieve our business goals? This focus on action will help you target changes in behaviour that will produce real results.
    Notice that the question is not, What do people need to know or understand to achieve our business goals? Concentrating on knowledge and information is likely to lead to click-through info-dumps that will bore people to tears and provide zero business benefit. Put that stuff in job-aids and other performance supports instead, and make them available both inside and outside the e-learning environment so your people can dip in and out of them as needed.
  3. Practice, practice, practice
    When it comes time to start building your e-learning experiences, spend the lion’s share of your design time on creating challenging activities that require people to practice new skills in interesting, real-world scenarios that match the demands of their actual work. Make them hard, but fun. And vary the context of the scenario from activity to activity. This will help people abstract to the general principles you’re trying to teach them.
    Hard-but-fun simulations like this have a higher probability of landing with your teams than traditional “info-blast and quiz” e-learning because they are directly applicable to their day-to-day work and life. The adult learning principle at work here relevance: working professionals must see how training immediately applies to their job, and addresses an immediate need of theirs, in order to be motivated to do it. Moreover, this kind of instructional architecture has been shown to improve the extent to which skills from the training environment transfer back to the workplace.
  4. Test your designs
    Finally, test your designs early and often. Work up basic prototypes and get them in front of employees fast. Involving your target audience in the testing process will not only improve your designs – it will create deeper engagement with the final products. That’s because of the Ikea Effect, which is the cognitive bias causes us to place higher value on things that we help create.
    Use your phone to video record your user tests (I actually recommend using two cameras – one for over-the-shoulder, to help find clues to improve the user interface, and one straight-on, to capture users’ emotional reactions) to get data to improve the user experience and your instructional methods. Ask people to think out loud during the test and describe what they are experiencing. Then sift through the results to identify golden nuggets of insight that will transform your e-learning from good to great.

Employees want to learn and to constantly be engaged. 46% of millennials left their last job due to lack of career growth. And 42% of them said they are likely to leave an employer if they are not learning fast enough. These numbers won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Creating e-learning that resonates could be the difference between an employee that takes the training and utilizes it to improve your business, and one that barely engages with it and ends up slowing down your growth.

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