The modern workplace is an environment that thrives with technology and the scene is thus set for the continuing popularity of e-learning for corporate training. However, the pertinent question for all e-learning developers is –‘How to increase Learner Retention?’
In the absence of an Instructor, learners often feel alienated and disjointed from the learning process in a self-paced e-learning environment. The course design should be built in a way that strikes a chord with all learners – irrespective of their social, educational or professional backgrounds. This is a tall task as most e-learning courses cater to the learning needs of a varied group of learners. This is where Theme-based Learning can be utilized to create a common thread of familiarity for all learners and build strong connections with the topics being taught.
Theme based learning is a common approach in the K12 scenario – but the benefits for corporate training are also manifold. A theme is the existence of common ideas and topics across multiple contexts. By building relationships between topics, themes provide a common ground for understanding multiple topics in detail. This approach works very well when catering to a diverse learner group or learners who are new to the idea of technology-aided learning. Not only does it provide the grounds to include multiple topics, it also helps in creating a familiar background, making the learner at ease with the technology-aided environment as well as the course content.
Here are two examples of how theme-based approach to e-course creation can help learners learn more as well as retain better.
Background: For a leading direct sales company, we created a series of e-learning courses that would help sales personnel gain more clarity on the product range of the company as well as learn general skills needed to make a successful sales pitch. The challenge was that the learner profile was extremely diverse both geographically and culturally– ranging from professionals to students to housewives. It was becoming increasingly difficult to provide training for this group – in a manner that would suit them all.
Adopting the technology-aided platform of learning delivery, we made sure that the learners had better access to the learning content. That was just half the battle won – we needed to create e-courses that would align to the learning styles of all.
The Theme-based Solution: We created popular themes to introduce new product ranges – modules that needed to be consumed quickly and retained well in order to make successful sales.
For the Kids products range, we created the theme of a Playground, with attractive and familiar graphics that all learners connected with. In addition to the textual documents giving the details of individual products, different parts of the Playground was utilized to place relevant pop-ups and information capsules regarding children’s’ nutritional requirements and how the products’ help in meeting the needs. A short video on factors affecting kids’ health was also included – breaking the monotony of text with audio-visual stimulus.
Benefits gathered: The entire course was not mandatory as the learners could just download the information booklet and gain information on the product range. But most learners chose to click on the interactive elements of the theme to gain instant insights on how the products benefit children. These facts helped them be better informed about the products they needed to sell. Once they were themselves convinced of the benefits, they were able to make better, convincing sales pitches to their customers.
Background: E-learning in the Healthcare sector is gaining popularity for healthcare workers as well as the patients themselves. For a leading Non profit organization, we created an e-course on a serious disease helping patients as well as caregivers gain more clarity on the condition as well as gain insights on the ways of coping with its life-long implications. Since the topic was dreary, we needed to lighten the situation when talking about the seriousness of the disease.
The Theme-based Solution: Nutrition plays in an important role in coping with the disease and minimizing its effects. Instead of just listing the ‘dos and don’ts’ we created a ‘Kitchen’ theme where a ‘buddy’ explains how avoiding certain foods within the Kitchen environment can lessen the affects f the disease. The buddy also points out the ‘good foods’ within the kitchen that are a safe option and do not adversely affect the patients. Suggested meal plans are also discussed within the Kitchen theme along with suggestions of school lunches and outdoor meals. This provided the patients as well as their parents with detailed information on nutritional dos and don’ts as well as possible solutions as well.
Similarly for the module that provides the details on the reality of the disease, the theme of a ‘Classroom’ was created where a lot of information was shared but in a format that was familiar with the learners. The ‘buddy’ explains how living with the disease is not a nightmare that many of the patients fear – the reality is that it is possible to lead a normal and active life if certain precautions are taken. ‘Chalk diagrams’ were shared with labels that explained how the disease affects the human body, its symptoms and treatment options. ‘Notes’ were provided in the resource section, where the main points of the module were listed for quick revision – whenever necessary.
Benefits gathered: The informal themes within the e-course were able to break the ice and bring out the reality of a debilitating disease without alarming the learners. The figures within the themes made sure that the patients did not feel intimidated or scared. Interactive elements like pop-ups helped gain the learners’ attention and helped them to retain the information for long.
The e-learning solution was created as an information-sharing module – accessed strictly on a need basis. But with its innovation design and familiar themes, more and more patients as well as their caregivers, friends and teachers read the e-course to gain knowledge on the disease. It was successful in imparting information as well as empowering learners to deal with the realities of the disease.
A varied array of Themes can be utilized in technology-aided learning, keeping in mind the learner profile. Various interactivities and activities within the theme can help make a multitude of topics come alive within the theme. Increasing learner interest, Themes in e-learning certainly increase learning retention.