Designing Virtual Learning Journeys: Tips To Make Your Training Mix Effective And Intuitive

Irene Jimenez/SweetRush Inc.
Summary: Our virtual pivot is complete—now it’s time to boost our learner experience (LX). From designing virtual learning journeys and visual maps to evaluating your program, here’s how to create a training mix that speaks to your audience.

Transform Your Training Mix: Boost LX with Virtual

If 2020 was all about the destination (online, overnight!), then 2021 is all about the journey. We’ve made it up the virtual mountain with all of our content. That’s a huge accomplishment, executed under tremendous pressure, and we should feel great about it.

But we L&D folks tend to be idealists, and we have trouble standing still. Chances are, you’ve already got a wish list full of improvements you’d like to make to your virtual learning journey. Maybe the path is full of obstacles that are keeping your learners away. Maybe you carried your content up in five different backpacks, and your learners have to rummage to find what they need. Or maybe some of your content is still at base camp, and you need to bring it up.

eBook Release: Virtual Training—SweetRush Style: 5 Inspiring Case Studies For A Learner-Centered Approach
eBook Release
Virtual Training—SweetRush Style: 5 Inspiring Case Studies For A Learner-Centered Approach
Discover 5 virtual training case studies to spark inspiration for your learning portfolio.

What do all of these challenges have in common? Solving them will help you improve your program’s learner experience (LX). Borrow these techniques from SweetRush experts to build a better virtual learning journey—and help every learner reach the top.

Find Your Footing: Virtual Learning Terms to Know


Find Your Footing: Virtual Learning Terms to Know

The following three terms are used virtually (pun intended!) everywhere, but they can still be slippery. Clare Dygert, Director of Instructional Design at SweetRush, helps us find our footing:

  • Curriculum Design: Curriculum involves learning topics and content, whereas design involves the choices we make about how we lay them out. Thinking in terms of our climb, the learning content filling your team’s backpacks is curriculum. Where it lives, and when and how it’s used is design. Together, curriculum design encompasses all of your learning “stuff” plus when and how it’s accessed and used.
  • Blended Learning: This term speaks to how you deliver your content to learners: video, text, audio, and apps are some popular examples. Don’t get too attached to any one modality: learners love variety! A training mix not only helps you reach every learner, it adds flavor and interest to the content—just as the best trail mixes create the perfect balance of salty, sweet, crunchy, and chewy.
  • Learner’s Journey: The virtual learner’s journey refers to the entire climb, right? Yes, and...the climb is part of the journey, but every touchpoint you have with your learner is part of the journey, too. That journey begins before learners agree to follow us anywhere: it might be when they first hear of our program or research a learning need.

Caution: Don’t focus too hard on that snow-capped summit! It’s important to keep the end point in sight, but we also want our learners to have a great experience during their journey. We keep learners with them when we surprise and delight them on the way to achieving those lofty learning outcomes.

All Trails Lead to the Top: Designing Virtual Learning Journeys for Every Learner

Not sure how to surprise and delight your learners? Ask them! Learners are just like us: They love to talk about themselves. They can tell you about what technology they prefer, which resources help them, and how much time they have (not much; they’re just like us, remember?).

You’ll probably notice trends emerging along the lines of job role, tenure, collaboration style, or personality. Being a great guide means that you’ll maximize everyone’s time and attention by offering differentiated paths to the peak.

Visual Maps: Help Learners Move the Needle

Being a great guide means that we hand the compass over to our learners. Creating a visual map for our learning journey helps us to do that. Knowing the trail ahead of time helps learners plan ahead and mentally prepare for steeper climbs.

By providing an overview of terms and topics, a visual map also gives beginners a sense of what—and how much—they don’t yet know. An aerial view of the trail helps learners anticipate where the trail will take them and appreciate how far they’ve come.

Talk to Your Travelers: Evaluate the Virtual Learning Journey

Talk to Your Travelers: Evaluate the Virtual Learning Journey

Level 1

How is your virtual learning journey treating your learners? It’s not hard to find out: satisfaction is one of the easiest items to measure.

Think of the surveys we receive after a visit to a store, restaurant, or car dealership: they ask about staff courtesy, store layout, and our likelihood of returning. These are Level 1 evaluations focused on the customer experience (CX).

In the virtual learning environment, where LX is our focus, we might ask learners if it’s easy to log into our systems and find what they need. We might also ask whether, and how, learners enjoy our content and find it useful.

Levels 2 and 3

Your learners are having a great time on the virtual trail, but are they mastering the knowledge and practices they need? A Level 2 evaluation can tell you.

And if your learners do make it to higher ground, are they applying their newfound skills in their work lives? You guessed it—a Level 3 evaluation will be the best way of finding out. But don’t save your Level 3 evaluation for the summit: Check in with your learner at different intervals along the way.

All of the Above

Which evaluation is right for your virtual learning journey? All three of them!

Level 1 evaluations don’t tell us much about the effectiveness of our learning programs, but they can tell us plenty about LX. Levels 2 and 3 focus on how learners internalize and apply concepts, but they don’t tell us much about LX. In short, each evaluation type turns over a different pile of stones—all different, all equally important.

Ready to Blaze Your Own Trail? 

Ready to Blaze Your Own Trail? 

A successful virtual learning journey needs to be safe and effective, but it should also be a treat. And when the path to knowledge, skills, and new mindsets gets rocky, our learners need to know that we’re spotting them.

If you’re ready to start executing on your LX wish list, we’ve got a Swiss army knife with your name on it. Our eBook, Virtual Training—SweetRush Style: 5 Inspiring Case Studies for a Learner-Centered Approach, is chock-full of tools from five ingenious organizations with five unique learning trails to blaze. Let them inspire you as you take your learners on a virtual learning journey well worth the climb. Also, watch the webinar about SHRM’s PMQ virtual learning program to get a whole new take on leadership training.

Ready for a more in-depth discussion about designing virtual learning journeys? Check this out:

eBook Release: SweetRush
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