Creating e-learning can seem daunting, but there is a broad expectation from members and stakeholders that associations should provide online learning, and if you get the foundations right, it can be a valuable addition to your member offer.
Here are 3 tips that will help you build successful e-Learning solutions.
1. Know your learners
Different people have different relationships with technology, different base levels of understanding and different motivations in learning. If you don’t know your learners, you won’t be able to build an engaging learning experience for them.
You may think that you already know your learners, after all, as a membership organisation your main focus is your members. However, the great thing about digital solutions is that they can reach more people than traditional, face-to-face, courses. That means that some of your less engaged members might come out of the woodwork for an online learning product, and your reach might extend beyond your normal geographical area.
So, you need to analyse your new learners and discover their motivations and barriers to learning, find out what they find meaningful and interesting, so you can create learning that they value and engage with.
2. Set clearly articulated learning outcomes
Identifying learning outcomes is key to planning a course or programme of study. Clarity on what the learners should be able to do after taking the course is not only vital to success, it will also help you in your decision-making as you progress in the project.
The learning outcomes are a description of what the learner should know, understand and be able to do as a result of having taken the course.
Often, learning outcomes are created as a tick box exercise and are vague and generic. This won’t help you or your learners. Spend some time making them explicit and link them to the capability needs and career goals of your learners. Also, think about how you will assess the learning outcomes in a way which connects to real life application.
Then use active verbs to describe what the learner will be able to do, such as explain, describe, evaluate, calculate etc – and don’t overuse ‘understand’, work-based learning needs to be applied!
3. Make your learning interactive
Since effective application is the end goal, include interactivity in your learning design. Active learning, rather than passively watching videos or reading, is key to both engaging learners and embedding the learning and making it stick.
Build in a variety of learning activities that require the learner to do something – use drag and drop interactions, questions and writing tasks to create an achievable but challenging learning experience, not just a fancy presentation.
BUT, avoid gimmicky games and animations – instead focus on the real world application, bring in the voices of practitioners who are a few steps ahead of the learner (not just world leading experts) so that learners can really see what they are aspiring to, and make sure they get enough practical application during the course to feel they are ready to apply their new skills at work.
The planning stage of any project determines its eventual success. It can be tempting to skip the analysis and skip straight into content creation, but I can assure you that the more time you spend getting the foundations right, the easier and more successful your eLearning project will be.