What is the most effective approach to knowledge and skill transfer? It is a labyrinth and when done well it should facilitate quick knowledge transfer and high levels of retention, but the question is “what makes good online learning ‘good’?”. Well we know based on experience and research that the key to ‘good’ learning is utilising, well, commonsense.
Recently we approached our clients and asked them “what does good online learning look like to you?, and from these conversations 5 overarching themes became apparent.
- Is it simple?
- Is the delivery engaging?
- Is the content relevant?
- Is their human interaction?
- Is the learning & assessment environment safe?
Let’s talk about each of these themes.
Is it simple?
They said: “[We] don’t want any technical jargon in the training, our people prefer [the content] to be plain and simple.”
Like any good instructional design team should, make sure to balance the requirements of the stakeholders with best practice learning methodologies for your trainees. Create user-centric content by covering the content that has the most value with the least amount of effort required to understand it, thereby delivering content that’s simple and easy to retain.
Is the delivery engaging?
They said: “We want our people to WANT to do it.”
When designing your training, keep in mind the ‘what’s in it for me’ (WIIFM) principle, and keep the weight and delivery of your content aligned to this concept. Empathise with your trainees and put yourself in their shoes – if they had to complete this course, what points would keep you interested? What points are boring and unimportant? What points are important but need spicing up? Keeping the content engaging is more than just games and avoiding static slide based content. The goal is to keep trainees motivated to train, and the best way to do this is to keep the design clean, succinct, and easy to process, with achievable goals and outcomes.
Is the content relevant?
They said: “We want our people to believe in the content.”
Part and parcel with the engaging content is having relevant content. And we mean truly relevant content that applies to the trainee or their role. We know that the levels of successful learning and retention are greatly increased when content is analogous to everyday life. When designing content the easiest thing to do is to seek real-world examples of problems, issues, or interactions that can be used to convey the information or training you’re trying to achieve. A sign of success for us is when we an end-user laughs at an example interaction and says “Oh, that happens all the time!” which is generally followed by a smile and a shake of the head!
Is their human interaction?
You said: “We want to feel like we’re working with people, not a screen.”
One of the initial barriers to online training is that the delivery will be ‘cold, unfriendly and corporate’, so it’s important to make sure that the warmth of the human aspect still exists in training. This can come from things as simple as shifting languaging from formal to casual, filming videos in a mixture of first person and to-camera, or even by using the person’s name.We insist that our client’s Managers are trained as Coaches first so that our trainees feel that the ‘human’ element exists with their training, which serves as validation of the entire programme too.
Is the learning & assessment environment safe?
You said: “We want to feel supported, even when failing.”
Making sure that trainees feel supported when training in the online environment is important. Yes, consider the average trainee, but what about the outliers? Perhaps they have never had to do online training like this before and the unfamiliarity may seem daunting to them. Its important to make them feel safe when it comes to training and to create an authentic culture where the training they’re being provided with is there to fill, not expose, gaps in their skill base with the intention of making their jobs easier!
Trust lies at the centre.
“We want to feel that this course was written for us and our needs.”
So what pulls these five themes together? Trust. The previous 5 key elements all centre around one key variable to successful online-learning, and that’s the trust that a trainee has in the learning itself.
We use these five themes as questions to not only evaluate a course upon completion but also during the development of the content itself. Because the ‘trust’ questions are based on collective feedback from our own clients on what they perceive as ‘good’ learning, and because they align with best practice too, we encourage anyone looking for a way to evaluate their own online learning on something more than just spelling and grammar to use these. Adapt them. Make them the sanity check. Or, at the very least, consider them wisely!
If you would like a copy of this White Paper then you can download it below!