What Makes Effective eLearning?
There seems more interest than ever in elearning, but I worry that people will charge headlong for an author tool thinking it’s the answer to their prayers. The trouble is there’s more to creating good elearning than just using the author tool.
Whatever we build it must be effective. We all know that, but what does ‘effective’ mean? For a piece of learning to be effective it must be:
- Relevant – it must align to what I, the learner, want to achieve. You might create the most engaging learning experience ever, but if it is irrelevant to your audience they won’t spend their valuable time on it. Get to know your audience and identify what their skills gaps are. Find the person who excels at what you’re trying to teach and model what they do.
- Engaging – it needs to entice the learner, make them sit up and take notice. This can be achieved through treating your learners like adults and giving them increasingly challenging tasks to complete where they apply their knowledge.
- Memorable – if they don’t retain anything from the learning then they can’t apply it. Getting things to stick in peoples’ memory is notoriously difficult, however there are techniques that are beneficial – engaging with their emotions, using repetition and spacing the learning out over a period of time all help.
- Actionable – they must be able to put their learning into practice. If they can’t, you’ve wasted your time and theirs. This can be as simple as instructions for applying the learning, an implementation system or some kind of implementation plan, ideally agreed with their Line manager.
- Efficient – it needs to have been an efficient way for them to reach the level of performance or achieve the outcome they needed to – efficient in the time and cost of producing the materials but, more importantly, their time in going through it. Focus on the material that will help people to change their behaviour and improve their skills. Ditch the rest or put in links to it instead.
It’s not easy, but ensuring that whatever you produce satisfies all five of these requirements will allow you to create a truly effective learning experience.