Online training is growing in popularity for a variety of reasons. First, as organizations become more dispersed, classroom training becomes a larger challenge as employees work in offices (and at home) all over the world. Second, online training tools have become so easy to use that the effort it takes to produce online training has dropped dramatically.
In any business that creates physical products, prototypes are used to show an early example of a product so people can visualize it. Inventors live by the prototype, producing early examples of inventions to test and to gather feedback. In product development, prototypes are critical so people can see what is being created. Why should eLearning be any different?
For anyone who wants to be as great as they can be in a chosen field, reading books on the subject is critical to one’s development. Whenever I see a blog or article listing important books, I read the article. And more often than not, I read one or more of the books from the list. It is a key part of how I stay current in my field.
The online training industry is flooded with articles and blog posts about future trends that focus on far fetched fantasies attainable only to those with discretionary budgets and/or niche needs. These trends generally include topics like gamification, the xAPI, and wearables to name a few. But for most of us, these are not practical trends we will implement any time soon.
It is the nerd in me, but I like it when I can base decisions on evidence from research. So when I found this study, "What drives a successful eLearning? An Empirical investigation of the critical factors influencing learning satisfaction,” I thought it would be worth reading. Although this study was conducted in an academic environment, there are important lessons for any eLearning designer about what makes eLearning effective.
One technique that helps to make our eLearning content digestible is to break it up into bullet point lists of talking points. A bullet point list is easy to scan, and the content is easier to remember. No one wants to read large paragraphs of text during an eLearning course, right? Of course not. In fact, I have used bullet points in my eLearning courses for years because it works.
We have all made mistakes in our lives, and eLearning is no different. I have certainly made mistakes in my eLearning designs. Sometimes because I didn’t know any better, and sometimes I knew better but did it anyway out of expediency. Sometimes I had a deadline. What can I say? It had to be done. Remember, the point of our eLearning designs is not to create something perfect, but to create content and experiences that help people learn something new.
Over the last few years, we have seen software companies successfully adopt a freemium model that allows people to try software for free before they buy. Sometimes the free portion is in the form of a 30-day trial. In another form, you can use a limited version of a software service for free, indefinitely. This has changed the way people purchase software, and it has changed the way people get things done by allowing people to use software for free that they otherwise would not use at all.
If you are reading this, you are likely considering how to create a deliver training and/or eLearning to a growing audience. You have either decided that classroom training will only take you so far or that you are going to start with eLearning as a means of training people in your organization. You are also likely discovering that there are many things to consider and many ways to create and delivery eLearning.