Something to learn from the corporate world on e-learning

Recently I designed a report with a partner for a professional organization looking to place a classroom seminar online. This organization was relatively new to delivering learning online and looked to me and my partner for guidance.

To provide a complete picture of e-learning in the corporate world, we needed to brush up on the latest trends. By dipping into group sources in LinkedIn, reviewing white papers and blogs, and finding exemplary training initiatives we put together an overview.

We found e-learning and training are becoming synonymous in the corporate world and with emphasis on engagement. If you want someone to invest time (without pay, at times) then e-learning needs to be engaging, but not entertaining. Professionals don’t have time for games, but rather need to learn what they require at the moment. Thus, learning has to happen.

Here are a few other things that I learned about e-learning preferences of professionals in the workplace – in order of importance: learner, focus, and structure.

The Learner

  • Design for independent learning
  • Design with forgetting in mind
  • Draw on learners’ existing knowledge
  • Allow learners to personalize their learning by adding notes to content, choosing delivery of content, and accessing variety of resources

The Focus

  • Design and provide tutorials, scenario-based learning, and problem-solving strategies
  • Make course relevant and realistic; help with transferring learning to workplace
  • Informal learning is important to include, such as mentoring, social networking,and online resources
  • Motivation and appeal is important to engage learners; focus on emotions
  • Tell/share stories

The Structure

  • Chunk learning and content with one concept at a time; and make each e-learning segment no more than 10 minutes
  • Arrange learning in non-linear fashion; allow flexibility to learn what want and how much; don’t expect all to finish
  • Assess learners and often to provide feedback; test skills and knowledge; measure and communicate results; allow to practice and review
  • Avoid e-coaching, user-generated content, online discussions, and group collaboration (more present in academia)
  • Use visuals purposely to increase interest
  • Interactivity could include interactive scenarios, practical applications and exercises, and ‘what would you do’ cases. A great example: http://blog.cathy-moore.com/2010/05/elearning-example-branching-scenario/
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