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The Modern Face of eLearning: Putting a Nimble Spin on Traditional Courseware

eLearning is evolving.

We’re in an incredible time in organizational learning. Between the collision of modern technology and the increased need to upskill people in different geographies effectively and efficiently, we’re seeing a seismic shift in what learning and eLearning look like. Until the last few years, when we onboarded or upskilled employees, it usually meant logging into an LMS from a computer and clicking Next between pages, reading, or being read to, and completing quizzes. Our modern learners demand a better experience. While eLearning experiences definitely aren’t going away any time soon, the potential certainly has evolved. The modern learner demands a blended, social experience that provides in-the-moment performance support and learning that they can complete where they are, when they are.

 How can eLearning look in today’s learning ecosystem?

Imagine a fresher delivery by incorporating more targeted eLearning elements into journey-based learning experiences that happen over time, or in the moment, served up by a learning experience platform (LXP).

Experience platforms can be curation-based, like Degreed or EdCast, or program-based, like Intrepid. How are they different? The modern eLearning components are shorter and more impactful and have moved away from the more legacy “course” feel. They’re woven together to create cohesive experiences that build, extend, and serve multiple purposes. These experiences include brief, micro-assets blended with opportunities to think about and reflect on. Learners can do something with what is being learned, collaborate with others, and connect directly with SMEs. While these platforms certainly help to make more nimble eLearning experiences, you don’t need an LXP to modernize eLearning.

 So, what can these fresh, more modern eLearning experiences look like?

When we’re developing Digital Learning Solutions for our clients, we encourage them to design and build for the future. This includes experiences that render well on any device; can be easily updated; offer more learner control regarding how, when, and the amount of training consumed; and provide the ability to easily retrieve key items that learners may want to reference later in the flow of work. For example, instead of a 45-minute seat time, break up the course into its components that are designed to standalone after the learner completes them. This could be done as easily as “chunking” topics and content in smaller, more nimble ways. Here are a few examples of what more modern eLearning experiences could look like:

  • Instead of a longer Storyline menu-driven course, consider a set of standalone exercises and interactions with opportunities to reflect and share (say, on a Program page in JAM or as a curriculum in other platforms). Each exercise includes an appropriate interaction or infographic paired with a job aid, an opportunity to practice what was learned in the real world, and a link to a Yammer page that is moderated by a SME—quick to create, targeted, and social.
  • Instead of a Captivate course on a specific process or set of steps in a system, create a PDF of a text document and embed quick, downloadable software simulations that mirror the steps within the body of the document—simple to create and update, a great performance support tool, and easily accessed inside or outside of an LMS, given the need.

Each of these examples:

  • Allows the necessary system communication for performance analytics and measurement
  • Can incorporate links to existing social constructs, like Yammer or JAM to infuse some social learning elements into what could otherwise render as a flat, individual-only experience
  • Provides content that could have been part of a traditional course-driven experience into a learner-driven one

 Let’s take a look ahead…

In the coming quarters and years, the notion of the traditional course will become more and more obsolete as the technology evolves and enables us to more readily do things differently. While many are still creating and deploying more traditional eLearning courses and may for some time, keep in mind that there are so many great opportunities for modern eLearning today. Your learners are already expecting it.

Consider experimenting on your next project with chunking, “microtizing,” and assembling assets so that they can be used for more than just courseware. Think about how you can space the content over time and add a social element to it that creates greater connection. These approaches will add shelf life to the eLearning experiences you create and give you the creative freedom to better serve the needs of your learners.

To see eLearning in action, visit our Innovation Kitchen.

About the Authors

Ann Rollins
Looking for the Connections I LOVE MY JOB! The process of untying difficult knots for my clients, and getting better with each repetition thrills me. I take the skills and knowledge learned with each rep on to the next challenge, becoming a quicker study, agile problem navigator, and solver. However, I wasn’t always this way. How exactly did I get here? My evolution from instructional design order-taker to bigger system thinker (about many things, not just instructional design) began on October 3, 2000. My charmed life was shattered in a moment while my family was on what should have been the vacation of a lifetime. On day 3, my father died of sudden cardiac death a mile offshore, while scuba diving with my mother in Barbados. He was only 55. He. Was. Healthy. Any sudden death is traumatic, but an emergency at sea in a third world country adds a dimension of horror that thankfully most will never experience. There is plenty more to the story, bad and good, but that is for another time. I slept-walked through the months that followed, trying to make any sense of how and why it happened. When the fog finally lifted, I spent so much time rethinking the last months, looking for the connections, and I struggled because I couldn’t make sense of it all. I felt like I was in my own darker Groundhog Day film: wake, grieve, rinse, repeat. In that experience, my problem solving acumen evolved. I learned that looking across a situation and revisiting an experience over time, while it may not change what is, allows me to search for, plan and change what is next. You see, humans typically try to problem solve by focusing primarily on changing what is. Sometimes, you simply can’t change what is. Death taught me that lesson about non-negotiables. And her lesson helps me solve problems much more effectively today. When we experience a singular event, our brains are hard-wired to make sense of it, to fix it. As new information comes in, and we are presented with new problems or challenges; our brains quickly make the associations, and then connections to create the jump needed to assess and respond in better, more effective ways with each pass. This is closely related to how I approach the business problems that our clients bring to us. Their challenges are real; they have problems that they cannot solve. These problems are costing them money and mindshare; they hurt. When they bring these problems to us, our job is to look at the problem, and revisit similar challenges that we have seen in the past. When we revisit situations that have some commonality (because they all do, frankly), we evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and what tools should be at the forefront of our options for solutions for them. I’d like to think of my own experience with all of my clients as a network that gets bigger and bigger with time. Client industries, size, and tenure with GP Strategies all vary, but we shouldn’t use those imaginary “partitions” that separate one from the next to keep us from thinking across the wide span of solutions that we’ve provided to our clients. However, in order for my network to grow as fast as I want it to, I need to keep my head up, and constantly survey what is happening with my peers and counterparts on other projects. Like my network of clients and projects, I also have a network of peers that I have forged and nurtured during my five years at GP Strategies, and a network of folks outside who have traveled my career journey with me. I regularly reach out to get new thoughts on my ideas, brainstorm with people in different capacities, collaborate in different ways, and allow those experiences to pull me out of my comfortable ID space and into others. I want to know what they see, because with each additional “rep” we can make our work better, and solve client problems faster and in more innovative, creative ways. I hope you enjoy the resources below, and look forward to connecting with you! Become part of my network on Twitter: @AnnibabyCan

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