How To Create Personalized eLearning Solutions
When I was training for my first marathon, I found a plan that told me exactly how far to run each day in the three months leading up to the race. I came across this plan on a very popular website where they assured me that the schedule had been used by thousands of successful, happy marathoners. One of the key features of the plan was the longest run: It was only 20 miles. After talking to several other runners who said running the full race distance before the race itself wasn’t important, I started training.
Turns out, though, that every runner is different, and I suffered a pretty massive crisis of confidence at mile 21 when I realized I’d never run that far. I have no doubt the training plan I used has worked well for many runners, but I discovered that day that I was not many runners; I was an individual with individual training needs.
The training we produce for our teams can sometimes feel like the marathon training plan I used. It works great for some and less great for others. And if it works for most of our employees, maybe that’s the best we can hope for. But what if we could build training that worked for every employee? What if our eLearning solutions could be personalized to every member of our teams?
I’d like to suggest 3 tactics that can help us create personalized eLearning without breaking the bank: Pre-learning, microlearning, and learner input.
A recent study by Matthew Schnurr, Elizabeth De Santo, and Rachael Craig found that pre-work, or “preparatory learning”, is a valuable tool to increase learner confidence in “both the process and the substance” of the training. This preparation is important because it lays the groundwork for training and helps the learner identify their strengths and weaknesses before the full training begins. This way, even when learners take the same curriculum, each learner is focused on the principles they need most.
But, of course, the best learning solution is not a single curriculum for all learners. Why require training for team members who have mastered a skill? When we group topics together, our training does just that. While microlearning is much more than just breaking up training into 5- or 10-minute pieces, the shorter times have several advantages, among them holding learner attention and, according to a recent study by an Australian team, increasing the likelihood that voluntary learners will complete an extended curriculum. Microlearning also allows for the personalization of your eLearning solutions. Especially when grouped with pre-learning, microlearning modules can be selected for each learner, and a Learning Management System with adaptive functionality can create individualized curricula. This helps your learners stay focused on the training they need and saves your company money by avoiding time spent on the training they don’t.
- Learner input.
One of the best ways to create personalized eLearning is to let the learners do it themselves. By providing avenues for learner input –such as tools for goal-setting, reflection, or social interaction– we allow learners to apply the training content to their specific workplace situation. A recent study on MOOC learning found that learner participation enhanced the learner’s ability to “develop skills of finding relevant information and become adept at filtering, picking and choosing information relevant to personal learning”. Getting our learners involved in their own learning will also keep them engaged, helping ensure they better understand the content we’re providing.
In a perfect world, it would be great to produce a truly individual solution for each person. But in reality, you probably won’t be able to produce a different eLearning solution for every learner on the team. However, by making a few tweaks to your curriculum design, learners can reshape each module to fit their own needs. Just like I would have been better at that first marathon if I’d taken the time to analyze the program and adjust for my strengths, the more we can train to each learner, the more successful we’ll be.