Instructional Design Through The Lens Of Rapid eLearning
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Instructional Design And Rapid eLearning

I was a first-generation Instructional Designer with a love for teaching and PowerPoint eight years ago. The whole process of understanding content and chunking it, selecting the strategy, setting learning objectives, framing assessments, selecting visuals, and designing the storyboard fascinated me. It was very satisfying to receive feedback from the customer and see the course come to life in collaboration with authoring tool experts.

Now, despite a shift in my job role, Instructional Design remains my first love, which I enjoy vicariously through my colleague-friends who are Instructional Designers. And, as I kept seeing their work over the last 5 years, I gradually perceived a distinct shift toward a faster version of custom eLearning—rapid eLearning—plus a few other changes.

What Is Rapid eLearning?

Custom eLearning is now back in the leaner, faster avatar of rapid eLearning. According to the 2021 Workplace Learning Report [1] by LinkedIn Learning, 59% of L&D professionals said their focus is on reskilling and upskilling; 60% of employees said learning helps them adapt to change. Rapid eLearning is the answer as organizations look to roll out training programs at the speed of need, and online training takes a bigger slice of the training pie due to the pandemic.

Rapid eLearning cuts down the time and cost associated with traditional custom eLearning by:

  • Adhering to the basics of Instructional Design
  • Leveraging authoring tools
  • Following an agile project management process

And for the uninitiated, rapid eLearning doesn’t cut corners or compromise on creativity. It does away with the fancy frills and allows for creative Instructional Design that addresses adult learning principles.

Rapid eLearning, contrary to popular misconceptions:

  • Isn’t publishing classroom PowerPoint decks with an authoring tool;
  • Doesn’t compromise on instructional design; and,
  • Isn’t a lack of creativity.
Rapid eLearning is the best way to achieve scale and speed in eLearning design and development—with quality.

Explore rapid eLearning here.

Coming to Instructional Design supported by rapid eLearning—that helps address the sensibilities and preferences of today’s learners—here’s a trailer of what it offers.

New-Age Instructional Design: Rapid eLearning’s Best Friend

Here are 6 new-age strategies making the buzz right now.

1. Name Me: Make It Personal

Shakespeare famously said, "What’s in a name?" but we all know the powerful emotions a name can evoke. It shows that you respect the other individual and take them seriously. It also builds rapport.

And rapid eLearning uses this very powerful tool to build learner engagement and involve learners personally in the course. This can be done by asking learners for their name at the beginning of the course and addressing them by name during the course. A few places to do so could be when:

  • Introducing a new learning point
  • Posing a formative assessment
  • Giving feedback
  • Sharing icebreakers
  • Empathizing by stating the pain points the course addresses
  • Summarizing the learning

Another equally effective method of bringing in the personal connection is to give learners an array of relatable characters/avatars out of which they can pick a guide to accompany them throughout the course.

2. Tell Me A Story:  Make It Emotional

Stories have a strong emotional connection with learners as they help them empathize with the characters, take actions to resolve problems, and thereby learn. Incorporating stories is easy with rapid eLearning and can be done in 2 ways.

  • Use Scenarios
    Each scenario [2] focuses on one pain point or situation the learner is likely to face at work. Scenarios help learners understand the consequences of their choices, their impact on others (and thereby the organization), and the best course of action in a risk-free setting. This makes scenarios good learning tools for training on topics where incorrect choices can lead to loss of lives and damaged property or reputation.
  • Case Studies
    Case studies are yet another interesting way to use stories. A single case can be used throughout the course, as learners gain more knowledge, the case becomes complex. They are required to apply the new learning to make decisions and solve problems of increasing complexity.
Many authoring tools offer templates and assets (images, backgrounds, characters) that make it easy to develop scenario-based eLearning. iSpring’s dialogue simulator–TalkMaster–makes it easy to build conversations and lets you record audio narration.

3. Let Me Be Free: Open Course Navigation

This is aligned with the adult learning principle of giving learners autonomy. Adults like to be self-directed and dislike being controlled. Opening the course navigation will let them go through it according to their preference, skip a part and go to the next one without having to complete all intervening screens, move back and forth without having to go via the Menu every time, and more.

Another easy-to-design effective way is to include agenda screens in the course which act as a roadmap, telling learners what the course covers, the sections they’ve covered, parts yet to be covered, status of formative assessments, etc. Simple techniques such as color-coding, markers, flags will make this roadmap more visual. They can also be designed to be aligned with the course theme.

Another related way is to offer mind maps; visuals which depict the various sections in the course, their interdependencies and prerequisites if any, recommended path, and more.

4. Save My Time: Make It Short And Sweet

Yet another new-age mantra is to give learners quick bites of learning—microlearning—much like the YouTube videos that are in vogue for their instant reach and easy comprehension. Each microlearning module covers one learning objective completely and is mobile-compatible.

Microlearning assets can be configured in a variety of formats and uploaded to your LMS. This makes these assets searchable and accessible to learners on their preferred devices at their moments of need.

While it is easy to get carried away by the formats, the key to success lies in letting form follow function. Let the intended purpose dictate the choice of your microlearning asset. And, if you think microlearning is only video, can only serve as refresher training, or is only for a fixed duration, get your facts rights here.

The best part is that microlearning can leverage existing training material. Here are a few sources you can look to:

  • Lengthy eLearning courses: the main learning points of each unit can become a micro asset
  • Classroom material, especially PDFs and charts, can be redesigned as interactive PDFs, eBooks, infographics
  • FAQs and follow-up questions in the classroom or webinars and seminars
  • Legacy courses
  • User-Generated Content: get your top performers to shoot a few tips of them working with a smartphone and put it up on your intranet

5. Let Me Play: Offer Edutainment

Edutainment (education + entertainment) is a hot learning preference that can be easily accommodated in rapid eLearning courses, thanks to authoring tools. Instructional principles can be used to develop gamified courses with game elements such as points, levels, badges, and scores.

In a course, successful completion of each level can lead progressively to difficult levels, next sections of the course. In a curriculum, acquiring a certain number of points/badges can be a prerequisite to unlock the next course.

Formative assessments can be gamified to make them stress-free and test learners in actual working conditions (a set time, access to limited resources, number to be met, and so on) in a safe environment.

Modern Learning Management Systems now support gamification and can be configured to award badges on completion of courses/learning paths.

6. Show Me: Use Videos

All of us are hooked to videos—DIY, entertainment, news, fitness, diet, hobbies—the list is endless. This had made Cisco [3] predict that video will represent almost 80% of all internet traffic by 2021.

Yet another very effective tool that can be used in corporate training is video. There’s great flexibility in the training topics videos can be used for and the types of videos. You can build your own corporate YouTube and let your learners gain access to:

  • Snippets of webinars by your Subject Matter Experts
  • Snippets from legacy courses
  • Videos of top performers in action
  • Real videos demonstrating operations such as product handling, troubleshooting
  • Animated videos on processes, soft skills
  • Videos of your management/C-Suite addressing employees

And these videos can be used in different ways, including:

  • Entry or splash videos high on animation to gain learner attention
  • Animated videos to showcase dry facts and figures
  • People videos to reassure learners/address their fears
  • Interactive videos with questions for assessments
  • Video snippets in feedback for formative assessments
  • Hand-drawn illustration videos to explain concepts
  • Simulation videos to teach/test learners on software usage

Most of these videos can be developed easily and quickly using a smartphone! Other tools such as Adobe Premier Pro, Vyond, PowToon, Vimeo Pro, and Renderforest are also easy to use. However, the winning mantra is to have a storyboard in place so that Instructional Designers and developers are on the same page.

Parting Thoughts: VILT Getting Vigorous!

I hope you now have an idea of how custom eLearning has evolved to become rapid, with scope for a lot of personalized and immersive learning. Are you using them in your online training strategy? If not, there’s no time like the present to get started!

Before I say adios, here’s another bite on virtual instructor-led classrooms (VILT). According to Valuates Reports, the global virtual classroom market size is expected to grow from USD 10.46021 billion in 2019 to USD 26.78647 billion by 2025.

This is not surprising as VILT has emerged as the main means of helping organizations offer uninterrupted training—without losing the personal touch—during the pandemic. Instructional Design is also evolving to convert classroom training material to:

  • Facilitator and participant guides with clear instructions
  • Exercise worksheets to online worksheets
  • Reconfigure classroom interactivities to collaborative activities such as polls, chat, annotations, breakout rooms

Here’s to Instructional Design the unsung hero of corporate training, and rapid eLearning, the herald of effective, engaging training with speed and scale at quality. I’m very excited and look forward to the new things I’ll see in Instructional Design thanks to rapid eLearning in the days to come.

Until later!

References:

[1] 2021 Workplace Learning Report

[2] A Training Manager’s Guide to Scenario-based eLearning

[3] Cisco Visual Networking Index Predicts Global Annual IP Traffic to Exceed Three Zettabytes by 2021

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