How To Use Real World Examples In eLearning
Real world examples bring the subject matter to life. With the help of fictional or real characters and everyday situations, you have the power to improve knowledge retention and comprehension. Even the most complicated ideas and concepts can seem commonplace when you surround them with a story. Here are 7 tips that you can use to write winning real world examples in eLearning.
1. Pay Attention To Detail
Details make a world of difference. They help online learners relate with the main eLearning character and enhance the realism of your example. This is because life is made up of minor details. Every day we are exposed to small events or challenges that shape who we are. We also make observations about the world around us, including the people we interact with. Thus, your real world example should also include some subtle details that build immersion. For instance, the main eLearning character might reply to an email or meet with a client in a corporate eLearning example. Just make sure that you don't go overboard by including every detail about the eLearning character's day.
2. Make It Relatable
Every element of your real world example should resonate with the online learner on a personal level. This includes the eLearning characters, online challenges, and eLearning context. To achieve this, you must research your audience and learn as much as possible about their background and experience. In the case of corporate eLearning, you should also consider their job responsibilities and common work practices. All of this information will help you create learner personas that highlight specific needs and traits. Then you can develop real world examples that form a meaningful connection with your online learners.
3. Follow The Arc
Real world examples may not be stories per se, but they should still follow the plot arc. This involves setting up the story with an introduction, gradually working up to a conflict or challenge, then giving online learners a resolution. Disclose the main eLearning character's primary goals and sources of motivation so online learners know why the events are taking place. This also helps them associate certain behaviors, actions, or cognitions with the outcome. For example, a CEO didn’t enforce the company's guidelines (behavior). As a result, several employees violated compliance standards (outcome). In this way, you're offering them a social learning experience without peer-based interactions, which is ideal for asynchronous online training courses.
4. Focus On Readability
Real world examples in eLearning should be quick and easy to read. The tone must be light and conversational, particularly when you're incorporating dialogue. In regards to formatting, you can often forgo long paragraphs and opt for smaller sections with sub-headers. For example, the introduction might consist of 3 to 4 sentences that set the scene. Then the problem can be presented in the second section, and so on. This also helps online learners locate key pieces of information within the text. It's always a good idea to have a fresh pair of eyes proofread your real world example before you integrate it into your eLearning course. They can identify errors that you may have missed and offer feedback about the tone and pace.
5. Bring A Subject Matter Expert On Board
Your Subject Matter Expert has the knowledge and experience you need to create an insightful real world example. Even top-notch eLearning professionals need help from time to time, and a Subject Matter Expert can be the voice of practicality. For example, you may already have the tone and emotional atmosphere just right. But have you included all the key takeaways? The Subject Matter Expert can let you know what to include, what to omit, and how to effectively convey the information to your online learners. This is why it's important to bring them on board from the very beginning, before you even start writing. Otherwise, you'll likely spend more time editing and revising your eLearning content in the end.
6. Add Multimedia Elements
You have the opportunity to make your real world examples in eLearning more interactive by adding multimedia elements, like music and narrations. If you have the right eLearning authoring tool, you can even transform it into an engaging interactive video. The secret is finding media that support the subject matter instead of overshadowing it. In other words, never use technology simply for the sake of it. Carefully evaluate your real world example and see which media elements integrate naturally. For example, a real world example that centers on a workplace task may be a good fit for a branching scenario or an online presentation. You can include background music, sound effects, and relevant images. There is a variety of free stock photo and sound sites where you can find royalty free online content. Also, many eLearning authoring tools have asset libraries that feature characters, cutouts, and interactions.
7. Back It Up With Facts And Stats
Real world examples should trigger emotions, but they should also be based in fact. That is what distinguishes them from fictional stories. Even if you've made everything up to prove a point, the real world example must still be informative. Include relevant facts, stats, and percentages that back up your example. These data points help online learners see the value of the eLearning content and improve knowledge retention. People are more likely to remember numbers and ideas when they are framed by a story. That being said, focus on a few facts in every example. If you overload online learners with too much information you run the risk of cognitive overload. Once again, meeting with your Subject Matter Expert allows you to determine which stats are valuable and which can be left out.
Use these 7 tips to create an emotional connection with your online learners through real world examples. They have the power to make eLearning entertaining, relatable, and above all else relevant.
Using real world examples is only one of the ways you can do this. Read the article 6 Tips To Create eLearning Scenarios That Offer Real World Benefits to get some ideas about how you can make your eLearning scenarios even more immersive and engaging.