As eLearning developer's we are always looking for ways to improve our courses. It's a natural worry in any profession that your work could go stale, outdated or irrelevant, this is especially illuminated in an ever changing, creative service like eLearning. Therefore we took some time out to ask the world of LinkedIn what their biggest qualms were with eLearning, and we thought we would share it, because we're nice like that.
What is a PC?
When we discuss all things eLearning, an image of tech savvy professionals in an open plan smart office, suited and booted comes to mind. And in a technology driven culture this stereotype is true to form however cliche it might sound. However this being said, eLearning is an option for everyone in the working world, and not everyone is confident enough to be left in front of a computer, in fact for some even the idea of turning on a PC fills them with dread. So this idea of eLearning overtaking face to face training is still on a rocky road.
So let's say we manage to persuade the learners to go onto the computer, how are you going to help them through? We can't have people stood behind them permanently guiding them, that kind of defeats the point really! So what to do?
From a developers point of view this really is a difficult situation, because truthfully it is down to the organisation to choose the right training route for their staff, hence the title. That being said eLearning should be easy to navigate, clear instructions throughout and highlighted hint stations. It is crucial to not presume everybody will automatically know where the menu is located or how to work the fancy slider interaction. As simple as these things might seem to the experts, don't take for granted that everybody is at your level, that's the reason you're the expert!
Although these small changes can save lot's of frustrated learners from being stuck on the first slide, it doesn't solve the general anxiety people have about the technological world that is taking over faster than some people can keep up. Therefor it is so important to re-iterate that an organisation needs to know their staff. Is computer based training right for them at this moment in time? Does it need to be filtered in slowly with a more blended approach?
Make it Mobile!
Mobile learning is and has been talk of the town in the eLearning industry for some time now. It's almost old news! However it does seem that the term 'Mobile Learning' is yet to be put into practice in most cases and can be taken too literally. Mobile learning is about accessing learning from phones, tablets and personal laptops anywhere, but it also can be interpreted as learning in smaller, bite-sized chunks rather than a half hour course. After all there's no point in saying a course can be done on the commute into work if you need eight books from the library to write your response! It seems that people want small chunks of exciting learning that they can access from their smart phone. This is efficient for most organisations as training can hugely interfere with work time, making dedicated staff members put it on the back-burning as they have always got more important things to be doing in the office. but also it will help to keep learners entertained! Let's not bore our learners!
'Budget, time and business support'
Training is always going to be perceived as a chore, by both the organisations needing to train their staff and the staff themselves. It's time out of productive working hours, it's telling staff that have been at the organisation for years how to do their job and it can generally seem patronising and endless. This attitude isn't helped when key factors like budget, time and business support are involved. It seems that a lot of companies struggle with making the jump to eLearning because of these factors. It is a risk, are your staff going to get on with eLearning? Is it going to be effective? Will it become a job that just never get's done?
All of these things considered, eLearning is an answer to many of the issues that relate to training as a whole. Whether it's face to face training or eLearning, it is still going to be time out of working hours, it is still going to be costly and it is still going to require support. However the benefits of eLearning do out weigh the negatives, although that's another blog post in itself.
That is where it is our responsibility as developers to make engaging content. We need to be making interactive learning that takes out the key points and emphasises them using all formats of quizzing, animation and gaming to really enhance and drill the information into the learners. So that's where you need to find yourself good developers.
Where are the Teachers?
And last but not least, where are the teachers? One of the main issues that the we found out was that people are concerned about the lack of 'real' help and guidance. Similar to point one, people mentioned the hassle that it can be to get a response to queries through email or virtual communications so therefor don't bother and struggle through, which is very unproductive! This also being the case with the general classroom culture being lost, interactions with
fellow students etc.
This is where the organisation needs to be proactive with eLearning, you can't expect to upload a course and for the rest to happen automatically. The element of independent study is very successful but shouldn't be taken advantage of. People need to interact, see progress, discuss the learning and have leader-boards and meetings in response to the learning. Just like the virtual, social media world that we live in outside of work is successful, this can be applied to the working world. Peer to Peer interaction is crucial, whether it be on a live chat among staff or in the competitive nature of a leader board.
Can eLearning developers be blamed if their courses have few takers?
So in response to the title, which was a great comment left that has provoked much thought, it really is down to the organisation when it comes to wanting eLearning to work. We make the courses and they need to be interactive, effective, clever , interesting, unique and challenging (no pressure) but once that's done we can't be blamed for the courses to be met with 'Urgh' if the organisation doesn't distribute and source their learning appropriately.
Motivate, encourage, challenge and understand your staff, this along with a great eLearning provider and your good to go!