7 Tips To Improve Lateral Thinking Skills In eLearning
Annette Shaff/Shutterstock.com

How To Improve Lateral Thinking Skills In eLearning

Being able to think outside the box and looking at a problem from different perspectives is a valuable trait. Whenever you're in a bind, lateral thinkers always have an innovative solution to offer. Which makes them a top choice for employers. While many people are born with this gift, it can also be developed. As a matter of fact, these 7 tips can help you improve lateral thinking skills in your eLearning course.

1. Identify Limiting Cognitions

Certain online learners may have the ability to lateral think, but their beliefs and past assumptions are holding them back. They are so used to looking at problems in a particular frame of mind that they are "stuck" in the box. However, if they have the ability to acknowledge these limiting cognitions then they can move beyond them. Ask your online learners thought-provoking questions that prompt them to reflect on their beliefs. Maybe a past experience is an obstacle that they must overcome. For example, they naturally assume that this solution is the ONLY solution because it's always worked in the past.

2. Incorporate Online Group Collaboration Activities

Online learners have a lot to offer their peers. Every member of your audience has unique insights, experiences, and knowledge that they have to share. They are also able to provide their peers with a different perspective, which is the greatest gift of all. Online group collaboration projects allow them to collectively problem-solve and offer their point-of-view. As a result, every online learner gets to look at the problem from a new angle. They also recognize that there's more than one way to achieve the desired outcome.

3. Use Puzzles To Get The Mental Gears Turning

Puzzles and riddles are fun. More importantly, they require creative reasoning. Online learners must be able to throw their preconceptions out the window to make room for new ideas. As an example, here is one of the most popular lateral thinking puzzlers:

"A father and his son are in a car accident. The father dies. The son is seriously injured and is taken to a nearby hospital. The doctor comes in and states"I cannot operate on this boy. He's my son." How is this possible if the father died in the wreck?"

Many people automatically assume that there is some adoption angle to this riddle. But the answer is quite simple: the doctor is his mother. This solution is often overlooked because people jump to the conclusion that doctors are male. However, lateral thinkers are able to leave their personal cognitions behind in order to see the most logical explanation. You can create your own lateral thinking riddles using the subject matter or use existing puzzles as a mental exercise.

4. Integrate eLearning Simulations And Branching Scenarios

eLearning simulations and branching scenarios mimic real world environments and situations. However, they also mimic the emotions that come with it and give online learners the chance to explore. They're able to interact with objects, meet memorable eLearning characters, and get all the information they need to find a solution. These interactive exercises encourage online learners to move beyond their comfort zone and see things from a fresh perspective. They can investigate every aspect of the situation, which gives them the power to challenge their cognitions. Every online learner must make their own decisions, which leads to a particular outcome. As such, they can repeat the eLearning activity time and again to figure out different approaches.

Design the Best Learning Experience for your Learners with the Most Engaging Branching Scenarios!
Discover, choose and compare the top eLearning Authoring Tools with Branching Scenarios Functionality!

5. Develop Mind Maps

Mind maps are a more visual eLearning exercise. Online learners begin by writing a word, challenge, or idea in the center of the page or screen. Then they create branches that explore potential outcome or sub-topics. For example, online learners place the problem in the middle of the word map. Each branch contains a possible solution. This allows them to brainstorm ideas they may not have considered in the past. Take it a step further by following it up with group project. Invite your online learners to break off into teams and share their mind maps. The team collectively decides which approach to use based on the ideas they've gathered.

6. Encourage Online Learners To Adopt A Different Perspective

I like to call this the "step inside the shoes" exercise. Encourage online learners to take on the role of someone else, such as a historical figure or industry expert. Then ask them to look at the problem from that person's point of view. This exercise allows them to set aside their own assumptions and beliefs and adopt those of another. You can even divide your audience into groups and encourage them to step inside the shoes of a teammate. The point of this exercise is to push online learners beyond their boundaries. They are able to see how personal opinions and backgrounds influence our conceptions. As such, online learners can explore the problem or situation from every angle. Then they create an online presentation to explain why they chose this solution or strategy to share with the rest of their peers.

7. Create An Online Resource Library For Self-Guided Exploration

Sometimes all it takes is a new piece of information to get the mind working at full capacity. As such, you might consider a microlearning online resource library that learners can explore on their own. For example, a variety of article links, mini-tutorials, and bite-size eLearning activities. A single fact, stat, or idea has the power to unlock new perspectives and challenge assumptions.

Lateral thinking skills are typically challenging to hone. Unlike many other skills, it requires online learners to step outside their mental comfort zone and explore new approaches. This can be particularly difficult for those who are "set in their ways". However, you can use these 7 tips to facilitate the process and help them think outside the box in eLearning.

Do you need to fine tune other essential skills? Read the article 8 Tips To Reinforce Soft Skills In Corporate eLearning to discover the top tips to reinforce soft skills in your corporate eLearning program and achieve the desired results.

Close