Last month I had the pleasure of speaking at the C3 conference in London. I participated in a Fireside Q&A, which was part of a series of learning seminars hosted by Litmos. I was interviewed by Rory Cameron, Vice President of Callidus Cloud, who asked me the following questions:
1. What are your top predictions for 2016 in the industry and technologies for learning?
“Every year we are asked the same question about where we see the e-learning going. And I think it’s safe to say that we are not going to be seeing any huge changes in direction. It will be more evolution rather than revolution, with some of the key trends that we have seen over the past 3 to 5 years continuing to develop.
This question has hundreds of answers! But one area that we are seeing really make an impact is gamification.
Now although gamification is a huge buzz word in e-learning at the moment, it is nothing new. I remember sitting in bed as a 10-year-old, reading my adventure books before going to sleep. I would often reach the end of a chapter, only to be told that there was a decision to be made - do you want to go through the red or the blue door? Whichever door I walked through had a different consequence and would take me down a different path in the book.
And this is a perfect example of gamification in practice. However the key change that we are seeing today is that the tools needed to create learning games are becoming more readily available.
Even 5 years ago, the only way to create a computer game would be to hire a developer with video game development experience - which was usually way out of anyone’s budget.
Nowadays, we are seeing affordable tools with which most developers can create learning based games.”
2. What are your thoughts on improving adoption in employee training?
“One of the most valuable pieces of advice I received when I started implementing e-learning within huge organisations was to ‘treat your e-learning solution as a business, and your learners as customers.’
I never forgot this piece of advice and it stood me in good stead as I tried to create something sustainable and effective.
One of the key problems that I see time and time again with e-learning is that our L&D teams forget to market their solutions.
Going back to the business analogy, there is no way you can create a successful business without a strong sales and marketing strategy. And the same must be applied to L&D. You have created a website, added valuable content, but nobody is visiting.
You have to market your product!
There is so much competition for your audience’s attention, why should they look at your LMS when they could be looking at the company intranet, YouTube, Facebook or chatting to their colleagues instead?
Your e-learning will never be front of mind unless you are in constant communication with the audience.
A simple first step could be creating an email marketing campaign. You already have the email addresses of your audience, why not send out monthly or biweekly email advertising the latest content available, and really focusing on the value that is being delivered. Why would your audience benefit from logging on to the LMS today? What’s in it for them?
If you can communicate the value, you will see more people logging into the system and benefiting from the training.”
3. How can the impact of training be measured?
“There are many different ways to measure the impact of training. However, this must be an intentional part of the design process. If you don’t know before you start developing a course what you are intending to measure, there it becomes extremely difficult to measure anything!
So my advice for measuring the impact of training is always the same – start with why. Why are you creating the course? What are you trying to achieve by implementing this training?
Start by picking out one important reason that this training is required. Maybe you can then think of two or three more objectives, but try to keep to a maximum of five.
Once you have identified these objectives, figure out how you are going to measure these. Will it be purely through analysing data from the course? I.e. does the learner know more now than they did before they took the training?
If this is your method of measurement, can you measure this further down the line rather than just immediately after they taken the training? I.e. can you implement a refresher module six months down the line that will prove your training has been effective?
Alternatively, are there more tangible statistics that you can use to measure the effectiveness of training? This could be an increase in sales, reduction in customer service issues, an improvement in staff retention or any other metric that has tangible business value.
What we are measuring is irrelevant, but it is essential that you pick something before you develop the course and figure out how you plan to measure it.”
4. Is there an ideal course formula for effective e-learning?
“One of the analogies I find myself using frequently at the moment is that of watching television. Quite often, I get home from work and my girlfriend feels like putting on a movie.
Yet I prefer watching box sets.
I asked myself recently why this could be, and the answer was purely down to my inability to sit still for any period of time. I am a fidget!
And whilst I will often sit down and watch three or four episodes of the box set, there is something that scares me about watching a movie - it’s the amount of time I’m committing upfront to watching a movie!
What happens if I get halfway through the movie and decide that I want to do something else? 2 hours is a big commitment!
And I think the exact same psychology applies when we deliver online training to our audience. If we provide them with one option, which is ‘do I open this e-learning course or not?’ the answer we often find is that they do not!
So to reduce the commitment we are placing upon our learners when they arrive at the LMS dashboard, we should not only be breaking down the courses into much smaller components, but we should also be indicating how much time they will be committing to undertaking that module.
A simple (5 mins) at the end of the module title can be enough for the learner to feel happy committing that much time to doing the course.”
(If you are interested in learning more about bitesize learning and the psychology behind that then please click here).
5. What are your recommendations for taking a training program to the next level?
“Another great question! I can think of a couple of tips straight off the top of my head.
First of all, I think one of the most important tips is to ensure the key stakeholders within the business are excited about e-learning.
And the only way you are going to do this is to really deliver value to that group of people.
One of the ways that I used to do this was to run small training sessions, and invite along these folk to educate them on how e-learning can positively impact their team, their customers and the organisation as a whole.
For example, educating them about content – are they aware that they can go onto websites such as Coursera and Open Sesame and download courses for their teams, that can be delivered via the LMS? This is often something that is a complete revolution for these people.
Another example is giving them a thorough demonstration the LMS in an administrative capacity – this can be really eye-opening. Very often they are unaware that they have access and can see granular training activity for their teams.
But by educating this group of people, you will ultimately create a tribe. A group of people who champion e-learning within the organisation. And that is a much more effective tactic to generate excitement about what you are delivering than to try and tackle this all on your own.
My second tip is communication.
Communicate with your audience. It is very easy to push e-learning out into the ether and to never hear any feedback about what the audience enjoyed, what they disliked and what could make the experience better.
It would take literally minutes to put together a series of short questions in a survey, and email the URL out to the audience.
Even better, make it anonymous so that they don’t feel nervous about giving negative feedback. You may be shocked as to what you hear, it is often very difficult different to what you expect.
Once you have this information, you will be able to start addressing the most commonly mentioned items and start seeing improvements in adoption.”
The Fireside Q and A was a really exciting session, with lots of questions from the audience and deep discussion, specifically around how we can make elearning more engaging and increase user adoption.
If you enjoyed this article then please take a look at Why engaging learning content and a state-of-the-art LMS is not enough...