As an experienced trainer, you have already set up one or more training modules via e-learning. You have tested them with learners, reshaped them according to the feedback and updated them when necessary. Now, however, you feel a bit stuck in a rut and would like to improve them further. Rather than reinventing the wheel, why not improve what you already have? Discover how to improve each module of your course and achieve the goal of your e-learning strategy.
Step 1: analyse what you already have
Before embarking on a new approach to your e-learning, it is important to know where you stand to begin with. Think carefully about the content and form of your modules. Your first resource lies in your satisfaction surveys. Here is a list of questions that can also point you in the right direction:
The content of your e-learning modules
- What is the breakdown between essential content and useful content? 80% essential content and 20% useful? Mostly details and little core information?
- How do you balance theory and practical experience? Do you use a lot of practical cases or not many?
- What methods do you use to transfer knowledge? Exercises, quizzes, simulations?
- According to the responses to your surveys, do your learners retain most of the information or only a few examples?
- How are you going to measure knowledge acquisition and retention once you have reworked the modules?
For a course on negotiation skills, for example, alternate between the key principles governing inter-personal communications and tips for unblocking crisis situations. Once you have provided a list of information and tools, propose an interactive game in which the learner negotiates with an electronic counterpart. The trainee selects their responses via a quiz or multiple-choice questionnaire. At the end of the module or of the entire course, conduct an evaluation to analyse what the learner has retained and the skills acquired. Reiterate this evaluation 3 or 6 months later to gauge their long-term retention.
Navigation between e-learning modules
- Is your e-learning enjoyable to use? Does the learner move seamlessly through the course? Can the trainee easily find the information they need?
- Are your modules accessible from a computer, a tablet or a smartphone? Do they require additional devices (headset, microphone, video)? Do they use a lot of bandwidth? (Requiring Wi-Fi) or do they work via a 3G/4G network?
- What is the average duration of each module? Is this deemed appropriate? Can trainees easily pause their session and resume it later?
In our case, concerning training in negotiation, invite a third party to visit your platform. Let them browse between and within the modules. Note the route they take, identify any potential friction and record their questions. If your e-learning is accessible on a phone, have your modules tested in this format too. Watch to see whether navigation is intuitive, what your tester does with appendices and if a 4G network is sufficient.
This will determine the work you need to do in terms of content and form. Don’t forget, the two go hand-in-hand, so you need to make an effort on both fronts.
Step 2: rework the content
Rethink your training from the learner’s point of view: what do they understand? What do they retain? How can they use what you have taught them? Is the balance between the different formats adapted to their needs? Use one or more of the techniques proposed below to improve your training modules:
The 70-20-10 model
This technique consists in dividing your course components by order of priority:
- 70% experience. 70% of your content should be composed of practical cases and exercises. You can draw inspiration from situations actually encountered by the learner or create your own scenarios.
- 20% Social Learning. One key to learner engagement lies in peer-to-peer transmission. Stimulate the group or have a manager/team member take part to diversify the sources of knowledge.
- 10% formal learning. Transferring knowledge remains an essential part of training. Allocate some time to this, but not so much that your course turns into a lecture.
Use the situational entry point: start with a context familiar to your learners then develop a story in which you present the practices and behaviour on which the training will focus. Position your learner as the hero of the tale and present them with 3 tasks:
- A qualifying task making them aware of their shortfalls;
- A generating task enabling them to implement the target skill;
- A glorifying task establishing the skill and celebrating the hero.
Use the principle of problem-quest-victory and you will obtain a scenario perfectly suited to distance learning! Staying with our example of negotiation training, consider gamification:
- Start with a deadlocked situation (negotiation between a buyer and a seller, request for a pay increase, change of contract, etc.);
- Create a course in which your trainee/hero acquires skills in the form of levels. Help them to improve and achieve their highest score;
- Present them with the initial situation again at the end of the course. Your learner will be able to see their progress and the skills they have acquired in concrete terms.
Time-saving tip: sort your course content into two sections: invariable knowledge and variable knowledge. The first consists of universal and timeless knowledge; the second consists of knowledge likely to evolve over time and depending on the context.
Select only the variable knowledge; this is the knowledge that will need to be regularly updated. Mark the update dates in your calendar and offer them to your learners via satellite formats like a downloadable PDF. You will not have to modify your core module, only its appendix.
Step 3: improve the form
Good content alone is not enough; your e-learning must be accessible, seamless and enjoyable. Think about connection, pathway and design.
The ATAWAD promise
To ensure your e-learning is used, set yourself the ATAWAD goal to make your course accessible AnyTime, AnyWhere on AnyDevice. Think about connection resources, the accessibility of your modules (how many clicks) and their compatibility on various devices (adapted to portrait and landscape formats).
If necessary, seek support from experts to make the necessary changes to obtain a streamlined design, be mobile friendly and create or insert visuals or videos.
If this is a team project, don’t leave anyone out: each individual has a precise role to play and cannot replace anyone else: project manager, sponsor, business expert, designer, developer, IS department, testers, etc.
In order to support the team, the project manager should establish a plan: identification of the deliverables to be modified, list of tasks, distribution per role, schedule of work, coordination, etc. With a detailed, shared plan, the entire team has the same level of information and can work together in a collaborative fashion.
These 3 steps give you a clearer idea of what you can adjust. Don’t forget to submit your new e-learning course to a test group in order to make the necessary adjustments before publishing it to a wider audience.