Making E-learning Interesting: Experiences in Soft Skills Training

Making E-learning Interesting Making E-learning Interesting
Published in General
Wednesday, 16 October 2013 21:01
About the turn of the century, e-learning was touted as the new great thing that would quickly replace traditional training. Everyone wanted e-learning. Text was quickly being digitized and called e-learning, but for many it was more of a sleeping pill. Then everything changed. 

Brief E-learning History

My staff attended an e-learning conference where the number of vendors about equaled the number of participants. E-learning popularity seemed to be a fading dream.

It was apparent that something needed to change. Then e-learning placed more of an emphasis on interactivity, a natural for the computer. Among many changes, the US Department of Defense defined four levels of interactivity and paid more money for higher levels. Others quickly caught on and new ideas like Rapid eLearning development and gamification developed that made e-learning even more interesting.

Tapping in to Our Abilities

How can we continue this trend? I suspect that many writers who develop e-learning have a desire to write fiction and for some e-learning applications they have the chance to do exactly that by developing entertaining examples or case studies drawn from our lives or imagination. I have the good fortune to develop e-learning products for soft skills training including simulations of people and that provides me with a chance to create fictional characters. One of my goals is to develop these characters and make they seem as real as characters in movies. Since the training interactively involves the learner, being creative can make training more interesting than a movie. 

An Example

One way to draw learners into the training is to capture the behavior of people in a realistic way using dialog or events that evoke emotions. Doing this draws learners into the training like nothing else. E-learning developers can draw on their subject matter experts and their own experiences, thoughts, and feelings. To show how this can work, I would like to share just one scene from the Hands-On Interview and Interrogation Training System (HIITS) system with 2500 scenes and how it came to be written.

In soft skills training, rapport building is often critical. The simulated person will only be willing to share this type of personal information if the user bonds with her and uses active listening techniques. It’s a real rush for both learners and writers to see the simulation come to life and seem real.

I was talking to a friend who, like my simulated character, was recently divorced. She was saying that she was okay because she had her children and a broad circle of friends. With very little prodding, she then went on to say something like what I scripted for Jennifer Lerner in our HIITS product. Check the following short YouTube video to see what I mean.

Read 1398 times Last modified on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 22:28
Dale Olsen

Dr. Dale E. Olsen is the founder, president, and chief executive officer of SIMmersion LLC, a Columbia, MD based training company.

Dr. Olsen leads the business development team as well as his team of training system developers. He oversees increasing the capabilities of SIMmersion simulations. He has personally authored eight training systems.

Over his career, Dr. Olsen has been awarded six U.S. and international patents, has served as the principal investigator for ten research projects, has published over seventeen peer reviewed papers, has been a reviewer for Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant proposals, and has presented numerous papers at statistical, polygraph, and training conferences.

For more info please see Dr. Dale. E. Olsen biography



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