While technology enabled learning is no doubt being embraced by diverse industries to address their training needs, making it truly effective is still a constant challenge. Among other concerns, is that e-content created should be able to engage the audience thoroughly to be truly effective. When learners are bored or disengaged, e-learning fails to make its intended impact and the result is – learner apathy to learning and poor performance in the long run.
The solution is to make the content engaging, stimulating and interactive. Adding graphics, interactivities like multiple-choice questions, drag-drop exercises, animations and other ‘jazz’ is often the preferred route for many developers. But is that enough? The answer is that surprisingly – it is not enough.
The reason behind this is that most developers make the error of believing that taking an online course is tedious for a learner and livening the content up with some ‘jazz’ is the prompt solution. On the contrary, e-learning need not be a tedious process at all. With a learner centric approach, developers can ascertain what will make the course some alive for the learners and suitably engage them.
At G-Cube, we developed a series of e-courses for a leading direct selling company which followed a learner centric approach to designing and developing the content. Our client had introduced e-learning among their partners for over a year, but in spite of the graphically enhanced, interactive and ‘jazzy’ content, the e-learning initiative had failed to catch on. They approached us to create a solution that aligned itself more to the needs of the learner and would empower them to excel.
The unique aspect of learning in the direct selling industry is the diversity of learner base. The learners have different educational as well as social and economical background. This created the challenge of developing e-learning that would align to the needs of such a diverse audience-base. To address this, we began by closely examining the learner needs and adopted suitable strategies that would ensure that the e-content developed would not be boring – but effective.
- To cater to the varied audience we developed theme-based content that focused on generic themes. Themes like ‘Festivals’ or ‘Seasons’ were able to make an instant connect with the learners – irrespective of their social, economical or educational background.
- The ‘theme-based’ approach also helped them to create a ‘context’ for learning about the products and selling techniques. For instance, in the seasonal theme, they learnt about which products to push during a particular season and the best ways of doing so.
- The majority of the learners were also not exposed to a lot of technology-enabled learning. Recognizing this, we did away with a lot of unnecessary interactivities within the courses and kept the course structure simple. Navigation was smooth with limited and only purposeful ‘clicks’.
- Further creating a visual appeal for the learners, we equipped the courses with a background buffering feature to ensure smooth transitioning of pages and not breaking the flow of information when jumping to the next page.
- The courses also relied on real images and audio-visuals – rather than high-end animations in order to strike a chord with the learners. The life-like images of the products and actual audio-visuals of selling demonstrations were able to help the learner extract meaningful learning from the e-courses.
- Course length was also reduced to less than 20 minutes for each course. This helped the learners more comfortable in undertaking the online courses.
- A separate ‘downloads’ section was created that made a variety of resources such as product catalogues, selling guides and the like available to the learner. These documents could be downloaded and accessed offline, when internet connectivity was a problem. The learners were also free to print them and use them as per their need.
The success of the new approach was clearly demonstrated in the rising number of learners adopting the e-learning platform and a steady increase in the number of courses completed. Examining the feedback, the greatest achievement of new e-learning approach was that from a dull and forced way of learning, the learners were now taking a renewed interest in learning. The technology-enabled mode of learning ensured that they had a detailed repository of information available to them at all times. In addition, the information was packaged in a way that was palatable as well as simple to understand and apply. More than a focus on sharing information, the focus was now on using information to sell more. The learners were beginning to perceive it not just as a learning initiative but as a business solution that empowers them to perform better.
So, with a tweak in instructional strategy, employing appropriate design principles and a shift in learning-focus, we transformed an otherwise mundane learning course into a more focused and effective training activity. For more of our experiences in creating effective e-content, write to [email protected] and we will be happy to share!