Consumers of online training are becoming increasingly sophisticated. They expect engaging learning experiences and will quickly choose competitor’s offerings if you fail to meet their needs.
Here are five tips for building engaging online training that meets customers’ needs and has them coming back to buy some more.
1. Use branching to ramp-up engagement
Branching is one of the most powerful techniques in elearning. This is where you give the learner two or more options on a screen. The lesson progresses down a particular screen-sequence based on the choice made—i.e., they branch down one path or another. There can be other choices to make along a given path that further direct where the learner goes.
Branching gives learners control over the process, allowing them to direct where they go, what they see and what happens. This makes the experience inherently more engaging and personalized than if the same information is presented in a linear and inflexible fashion.
Branching scenarios take this a step further by wrapping a real-world situation around the branches. By setting the branch-point decisions in a virtual workplace and showing a decision’s impact across the resulting screen sequence, you give the learner an opportunity to experiment and learn by doing: “I encountered this situation, made this decision and saw the result. Was it a good outcome or a bad one?”
This blog article discusses seven ideas for branching scenarios and further demonstrates this concept.
Your project structure can get complex if there are lots of decision points and resulting screen sequence paths! But don’t worry. The best content authoring tools have ways to manage this—for example, Elucidat’s Project Structure View. These tools give you the mechanisms to clearly see and manage the decision/branch points and resulting paths.
2. Use bite-sized online training
Creating small, targeted, bite-sized learning is important for several reasons:
- It’s quicker to design and build than larger modules. It can therefore get to market and respond to changing consumer demand quickly.
- Smaller nuggets are quick and convenient for learners to consume, particularly on mobile devices.
- Small, granular learning pieces can be combined and consumed in different ways to satisfy different learners’ needs.
- It can be consumed during gaps in busy work schedules.
- It can be used as a refresher or Just-In-Time training.
Small doesn’t mean that learning is less effective than a bloated equivalent. In fact, it’s often better. It focuses on key messages without unnecessary nice to have material clouding the important points. Consider this Sales Training Sample that would only take five or ten minutes to complete.
3. Build responsive learning that’s multi-device compatible
I’ve written before about the importance of mobile learning. But it’s inefficient and expensive to author separate versions of the same course for desktop, tablet and smartphone devices.
Good news! These days, you don’t have to. More and more authoring tools create responsive output that adapts (responds) to multiple device screen sizes. That is, you create content once. The clever output dynamically adjusts the layout depending on the device it’s viewed on. This opens your content to more learners with little or no extra work.
Authoring software that creates responsive output will usually give you a mechanism to see how your work will look on different devices during development.
Related: Check out Elucidat’s Responsive View Mode slider in action.
4. Challenge learners
Adult learners like to be challenged. Spoon-feeding information is a sure way to bore and have them forget what you’re trying to teach.
The branching techniques discussed earlier are a fantastic way to engage learners and have them actively participate in learning, but any time a learner has to make a decision or be pushed to think, he or she is more likely to remember the context, content and outcome.
Here’s a brief example of how making choices can be fun. Adult learners like to prove to themselves that they understand what they’re being told or asked to do. (I bet you did all the faces in the sample, didn’t you?!) Give learners opportunities to make choices, and your content will be more engaging and effective.
5. Make training relevant to the learners’ work
Relevance is something else that makes learning powerful. If material is relevant, learners have a reason to pay attention. One of the best ways to do this is to put it in a context learners can relate to. Here are some ways this can be done:
- Understand learners’ issues and pain-points, and address them.
- Pose challenges that will be realistic and meaningful to learners.
- Use authentic images and language.
- Use metaphors consistent with the topic being learned: rather than assigning points for challenges in a financial training course, assign (virtual) dollars. Or, let learners accumulate customer satisfaction points in a customer training scenario.
- Still on metaphors, deliver scenario background information using methods the learner would use in the workplace. I.e., if learners speak with people on the phone in the workplace, use audio (perhaps with a phone effect applied to it for added realism—here’s how to do that in Audacity). Set the scene with an image of a complaint email if that would be more authentic for the context.
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The key to successfully growing your learning content in a competitive market is to provide quality experiences in the most efficient ways possible. By leveraging the power of modern authoring tools and applying the techniques discussed here, you’ll maximize your offerings and produce learning opportunities that delight customers.
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