‘Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all its flavour.’
That’s what English poet William Cowper wrote in his poem ‘The Task’.
Life would be very boring if everything were the same. If we ate the same lunch every day. If we had the same evening routine day in day out.
The same goes for learning. Using the same approach for a piece of learning isn’t always a bad thing – if it works it works. But people should be enthusiastic about learning.
They want to learn.
They crave content that can help them solve their problem.
You need to show them that their time is valuable. That they are valuable. You need to set them up for success.
What does this mean?
Be open to different approaches. What works best for achieving one goal might not work well for another. Learning isn’t a linear process either. Yes, an eLearning module is a fantastic opportunity to start that behaviour shift, to provoke some thought. But learning is continuous. It never stops. You shouldn’t rely on an eLearning module alone to tick that box for you.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of producing an informational piece of eLearning. It’s hard when you’ve so much information to get across to learners. You’re scared that if you miss anything out, there’ll be repercussions. Repercussions of what though? Reading information and not being able to remember it?
Tackling information overload
Less really is more. Pick out the actions. What do people need to do to do their job better? How can you help them get there? Reading information or knowing where to find it just doesn’t cut it. Learning should be less didactical and more practical.
Each learner is an individual. They’ll take something different away from a learning experience, and this depends on their experience and motivations. They’ll have differing levels of experience in their job role. They may not have the same roles. So learner perspectives will be very different.
Consider a standard eLearning module. It contains some information for learners to absorb. There’ll be a real-life scenario or reflection point to help the learners connect with the material. And there’ll be at least one work-based activity – something for the learner to do.
The module might address a particular learning need:
- Is it their first look at this subject area?
- Does this expand on what they already know?
- Is this going to be a useful reference resource for them?
- Does the learning address a particular pain point or business issue?
- Has your business encountered some change in the way you work?
Or the same piece of learning may even cater to these different needs, wants and frustrations. Let’s imagine you asked a few of the learners what their main takeaway was after completing the module.
Learner A says that it was the last screen in the module because it was the last thing they remember.
Learner B says there was one thing that resonated with them. They didn’t know that it wasn’t ok to wear face masks around their neck. Now they’ll be more careful.
Learner C says that the work-based activity allowed them to practice entering patient data into the new system and in a safe environment.
Learner D says that it was the reflection activity. It made them think about how they could better incorporate infection and prevention control practices into their work.
And that’s ok. No matter how much you engineer it, learners won’t take away everything they’ve looked at in an eLearning module. They’ll take away what they need at that moment in time. What you can do is create as relevant and as individual a learning journey or learning pathway as possible, to encourage change. In addition, an eLearning module is a great start, but how do learners make it to the finish line?