Modern organizations are becoming serious about training and learning to keep up with the pressure of maintaining excellent quality of work. Corporate employees want the opportunity to better themselves – even outside the strict realm of work. Employees now not only seek a good salary or work atmosphere, but also the opportunities the workplace provides to increase their worth as professionals. But in spite of emphatic efforts, some training endeavours fail to capture the interest of the learners and do not make their intended impact. This is true, of both traditional learning as well as e-learning – the elearning content development has to be designed to pique the interest of the learners. In this respect, understanding the learning habits of the group is essential for the success of training.
Habits are repetitive behaviours that all of us have and are often the most difficult thing to change. Not all habits are bad – so if the training is not intended to change pre-existing habits of the learners, it can align to them to be more impactful. Habits are formed of cues, behaviour, reward and repetition. We find cues all around us and some of them make us behave in a certain manner. This behaviour when rewarded, in any way that appeals to the individual, then forms a repetitive pattern of a habit.
Most e-developers often look at the behaviour part of the habit cycle, but it is important to note that other parts such as cues and rewards are as relevant when designing to align to the habits of the learner.
Cues are all around us, in our environment. They are the triggers to our habits and if learning provides the right cues, it can make the desired impression on the learners. Cues have to be picked up in the context of the learners’ real life or more importantly, work life.
Mentors can be part of the learning module – and if it’s someone they can relate to, learners will find an instant connection with them as well as the content. For instance, for a learning course for young adults on the effects of a debilitating disease, we introduced a young girl who talked about the relevant issues with them. Though some of these topics were serious, the mentor was perceived by the learners as ‘one-of-their-own’. Thus even the grimmest of topics became relevant and not scary.
Similarly, for a group of learners who were experiencing technology-aided learning the first time, we created a scenario with a familiar background and known characters. The scenario helped the learners to get familiar with the new platform and more enthusiastic about accepting the learning opportunities it offered.
Behaviour cannot be changed or created in a day. It is formed by hours and hours of practice. A learning course that aims to instil a particular behaviour within the learner group, should be built with interactivities that give the learners plenty of chances to learn and practice. Role plays, interactive assessments and CYUs (Check your understanding) can give the learners the opportunity to practice and adopt a behaviour through the e-learning course. Behaviour can also be inculcated through blended learning where the online session imparts knowledge, followed by classroom sessions that can provide the opportunity to practice with peers and instructors. This makes sure that the adopted behaviour is up to the desired standards and if the learners deviate, the peers or instructor can check that behaviour.
Behaviour can be suitably rewarded in many ways within the learning environment. This can be achieved by game-based learning, where special games are built with a learning objective to provide the opportunity of ‘doing and learning’. These games can be built on ideas adopted from popular entertainment games like jeopardy. Else if time and budgets permit, learning games can be built in as well, custom created for the particular behaviour or skill that needs to be taught. The games provide rewards through points won, levels reached or even successful attempts, timed or otherwise. The LMS or the learning platform itself can be gamified as well to provide rewards through achiever boards, collectables or badges that can be won with every e-course completed. Learning itself thus becomes the habit, perpetually helping the learners better themselves.
Every organization wants to reap the benefits of training and get a positive ROI on its investments for organizational learning. With a strategy to include prevalent habits of the learners, developers can make sure that the effects of the training are amplified and perfectly aligned to how learners want to learn. This surely spells a uniform impact of the training and consecutively, a positive ROI as well.