6 Ways To Deliver An Effective Learner Experience In eLearning

6 Ways To Deliver An Effective Learner Experience In eLearning
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Summary: What goes hand-in-hand with delivering an effective learner experience in the 21st century is how we deliver essential information and lessons to our users effectively, through technology. Here is how learning professionals can deliver effective LX in online learning.

How To Deliver An Effective Learner Experience In eLearning

Effective learning experience and technology cannot be separated in the 21st century, since any Learning Management System worth its salt uses technology to achieve its aims. To that end, let’s cover some of the aspects a relevant LMS should leverage to achieve optimal learner experience in eLearning.

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1. Connectivity

It should go without saying that any modern eLearning system needs to be bolstered by a robust network of connectivity. Learners need access to their LMS and learning content wherever they may be and however they may access it in order to support a seamless, ongoing learning experience. Limiting the friction that may impede learners from getting information quickly and effectively is an essential ingredient to a truly supportive LX.

However, this ingredient is too often ignored, at the peril of both the learner and the organization overseeing learner progress. One small impediment, such as intermittent inaccessibility or lack of connectivity, can disrupt the learning process and have a negative impact on the learner’s overall engagement with L&D programs. Connectivity also speaks to a learner’s ability to access essential learning at the point of need, as opposed to the point of instruction. As the growing relevance of personalized learning has taught us, learners can acquire essential and practical on-the-job lessons and insights when they have access to specific training material on the job, right when they need it. But while ongoing connectivity is always going to help facilitate a better learner experience, we can’t forget that connectivity’s oppositional sister, offline access, also plays a huge role.

2. Offline, Too

In an ideal world we would be connected to our LMS all the time, at points of need and at points of study. However, the brutal reality of the 21st century is that, while we would like to think the entire world provides points of connectivity at all times, there are many situations and job functions where that simply cannot happen. Think of roles in industries like mining, shipping, defense, and aviation. Due to a variety of circumstances, users simply cannot be connected –through whatever device– to the centralized LMS they are used to accessing on a regular basis. In these instances the devices they use to engage in continual learning simply cannot access the LMS and their learning journey, for a time, is at a standstill. This is why it is sometimes said that “offline is the new online”.

While cloud-based LMS providers strived for many years to provide an offering that was available in any region of the world, at any time, with a connection to the internet, one thing was lost to some: The fact that we simply cannot access the internet in certain regions, at certain times. So a new challenge emerged: If we’re to provide users with software tools that are accessible on offline devices and map to the LMS they are used to using, how do we reconcile and synchronize the progress they have achieved –the courses they have taken, the course scores they have achieved, etc.– with what exists on the broader, connected system, once they have re-established connectivity? Fortunately, some LMS providers have made leaps and bounds in this regard in recent years, and now learning progress can be easily reconciled with the centralized LMS effortlessly.

3. Mobility

We have discussed the importance of both connectivity and offline functionality in a learner’s journey. But it would be remiss of us to venture into this territory without covering the vastly important role of mobility in eLearning and how it can help streamline LX. It’s extremely important to make the learning process seamless. Learning is an activity that isn’t strictly connected to the workplace but can occur in variable locations and conditions. That’s why accessing learning content from everyday personal devices, such as smartphones and tablets is mandatory. The possibility to also download training material and engage with them offline (while taking a flight, for example) is an element that must be considered, especially if the workforce is always on the go in different business conditions and with different schedules. Once upon a time, learners learned with instructors, textbooks, and on-the-job training. The modalities with which we can learn have exploded in the digital age, with notable improvements and opportunities in the past five years alone.

In an era where a learner can glance down at his or her smartphone or tablet and execute course activities right as they are on the job in the exact environment they will be exercising their job functions and learn and absorb critical information at the point of need, it seems archaic that we would need to turn to textbooks at all (though they will always have their place, to be clear). It is abundantly clear that smartphones, tablets, and even other devices such as wearables like smartwatches, will continue to play an increasingly relevant role in eLearning on the job. As a result it is incumbent on the progressive L&D professional to develop a learning strategy that takes mobile elements into account. And the numbers stand by the fact that learners are virtually glued to their devices as it is. Among Millennials, which increasingly dominate the workforce, most say their smartphones, for example, never leave their side, according to a recent report by Zogby Analytics.

It is abundantly clear that smartphones, tablets, and even other devices such as wearables like smartwatches, will continue to play an increasingly relevant role in eLearning on the job. As a result it is incumbent on the progressive L&D professional to develop a learning strategy that takes mobile elements into account.

4. Microlearning

In some ways this is but an extension of the mobile learning aspect of LX, but it ought to be mentioned in isolation. Microlearning is a means of teaching that goes outside of the standard box of traditional learning wherein course content is delivered through more lengthy, protracted lessons of training. Instead microlearning delivers specific learner content in small, short bursts. Think brief YouTube or Facebook videos, or some of the quick, easy-to-digest, and low-time-commitment animations we see all the time on social media. While learners can certainly invest the time and effort into traditional modalities of learning like classroom, instructor-led training, they can also get the critical insights and lessons they need with quick, bite-sized chunks of learning material, and that’s what microlearning is all about. It’s also a new mode of teaching that L&D professionals might ignore at their peril, especially as attention spans grow ever shorter.

5. Gamification

Many of us are familiar with the now-worn example of a “smart, connected” toothbrush that tracks our dental habits to help us monitor and improve on our daily hygiene regimen. We get “points” for brushing, “badges” for brushing with regular frequency, and “trophies” and “levels” for improving our overall dental health through provable action, consistently. Increasingly, this approach is being applied in corporate learning environments where learners are now offered points, badges, and trophies for achieving and surpassing goals and doing better than their immediate competitors. From badges and boards to keys that open learning doors, there are a myriad of game mechanics to consider when designing your online training course.

Gamification is a game changer. People are competitive by nature and love to get rewarded for what they did and how they performed. It introduces a sense of competition that leads to more interaction and motivation while doing a training program. Earning badges and being part of contests is just a starting point to increase a learner’s continued attention – something that can be even more effective with, for example, a gamification reward marketplace, where people taking part of the learning activity can exchange their achieved badges and points for physical rewards or even money (e.g. gift cards, etc.)

The question is: Which gamification elements should you use for your audience in order to spark their motivation? How can you reinforce positive behaviors and get them to engage with the subject matter in a more meaningful way? Most importantly, which game mechanic is a perfect fit for your online training program and organizational goals?

6. Virtual Reality And Augmented Reality

Best-in-class companies seek out new technologies and modalities to use in order to get learners up to speed faster and more effectively, and both augmented reality and its cousin, virtual reality (VR), have entered the spectrum of tools employers are increasingly using to engage learners. The numbers show it. In 2012 the spend on VR programs in eLearning was about $2.3 million in the US alone. With an anticipated five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23%, that spend is expected to reach $6.6 million in 2017. There’s good reason for scrutiny about the potential of AR/VR. After all, the as-yet-undelivered promise of VR has been in the works since the early 1990s.

However, VR has recently seen a surge in popular adoption and use, and is increasingly viewed by L&D departments as a great way of getting key training information to users quickly and effectively, thereby improving learner experience. Also, AR/VR is becoming more and more affordable and its tools are becoming increasingly accessible. And there’s also the fact that, not only do users love using it when it is executed properly, it fits naturally in certain training environments: Think aviation (simulations in operating aircraft) and oil and gas (operating controls on an offshore rig).

These were some of the ways to deliver essential information and lessons to our users effectively through technology. For more on why learner experience is so important, download the free eBook The Critical Importance Of Learner Experience In eLearning.

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