3 Tips for Designing More Inclusive Digital Learning

Steps towards more inclusive digital learning

3 Tips for Designing More Inclusive Digital Learning

As more and more people get into digital learning, the issues of inclusivity is raising its head. Catering to organisation-wide audiences means catering to a diverse group of learners – both in terms of capabilities and limitations. While inclusive and accessible design is an entire fields of its own, we thought it would be helpful to share some good practices. Therefore, here are 3 tips for designing more inclusive digital learning.

Empathy is a good starter

Just like in any design project, empathy is a good place to start when it comes to inclusivity too. So, polish that design thinking hat once again and seek to understand your learners and their constraints and limitations. A good empathetic process should uncover some of the limitations your employees may have when it comes to accessing and using digital learning. Furthermore, you’re also likely to uncover new realisations about the context of the users. Learners don’t consume learning in a vacuum, and therefore the context matters a lot. Situational limitations and restrictions may present a real barrier to inclusive digital learning if you don’t uncover them and design with them in mind.

Multimodality is often good idea

In many cases, one of the bigger issues in inclusive learning is the use of different modalities and mediums. For instance, some learning may be primarily audiovisual, whereas some may require reading extensive text-based material. Whatever the primary modality, it’s important to offer an alternative pathway and support system for those who can’t due to personal or contextual limitations use that modality. For instance, an employee with hearing impairment may not get much out of a training video – unless you use captions. On the other hand, someone with dyslexia may really struggle with large amounts of text.

Also, many work situations may limit the use of certain features of the learning experience, such as audio. For instance, a customer service employee may not be able to listen to audio without putting headphones on, which is something they wouldn’t do during the workday. Thus, it’s important to also understand the work situations and contexts that employees engage with learning in.

Use media and language in an inclusive way

Finally, the use of media and language presents an important consideration for designing inclusive eLearning. Often, the devil is in the details. Learning designers face the same issue as advertisers. The imagery and visuals you use should be representative of the population that consumes your services – in this case, your employees. Therefore, you should make sure that the learners are able to see themselves in the visuals you choose. Maintain a balance when it comes to attributes like gender and race, for instance.

Similarly, the language you use in the learning should be inclusive as well. Firstly, it should be comprehendible to people whose native language may not be the one they’re learning in. Secondly, the use of vocabulary should avoid biased and loaded expressions. But perhaps most importantly, the language choices should be ones that the audience can relate to. Ideally, the language should feel personal to the audience, and not just some corporate slang and compliance lingo. If you give your learners a chance to relate, you not only make your learning more inclusive, but also more effective.

3 Tips for Managing the Learning Design Process

Managing the learning design process

3 Tips for Managing the Learning Design Process

Learning design projects take many shapes and forms and organisations have a variety of different ways of managing them. Some use conventional approaches like ADDIE, some may use more agile methods. Some rely heavily on data, whereas some go all out on the service design playbook. Whatever your methodology, there are some common best practices that we have found to be of benefit in any situation. So, let’s take a look at 3 ways you can manage the learning design process better!

Spend time on the discovery phase

One of the challenges corporate L&D teams face is time. Teams may often be running backlogs with the business expecting to have its learning ready yesterday. In this kind of an environment, it’s easy to forget to invest enough time in one of the most crucial steps. That step is discovery. Discovery is all about validating and investigating the problem, and it starts right as someone makes a request for a new piece of learning. Instead of simply taking the request as it is, it’s the L&D professionals responsibility to really assess whether the issue is even a learning issue.

Furthermore, even if you have validated the issue, discovery doesn’t stop there. Further along the learning design process, you’ll want to invest time into investigating the problem space, and making sure that whatever you design is actually a functional and fitting solution. Often, problems are not learning or training problems and we mistakenly take them as such. If you’re trying to train your way out of a non-training problem, you won’t get much results. Therefore, it’s important to spend time discovering what the problems really are.

Seek feedback early

It’s nice to put out a beautiful product after you have tuned it to perfection. However, often we focus too much on building the perfect product that we actually fail to listen to the users. Once you’ve spent an enormous amount of time building something, you’ve become emotionally invested, and it’s more likely that you’ll just shrug off critical user feedback as “uneducated opinions”. While the users may not always be right in the absolute sense, they often are when it comes to their own context. For instance, a product might be good, but it might just not work for a particular user group.

To avoid getting over-invested, and to make sure you’re building a working solution, you should ask feedback often and early. Early feedback can help you rediscover the problem space and understand the potential user better. In most cases, you can ask for feedback with very raw prototypes. Early feedback collection also involves your user base as co-creators, and helps to set the stage towards what’s coming later. This may help to reduce change anxiety and help to adapt new ways of doing faster.

Avoid the sunk cost fallacy

Even with rigorous design approaches, we are bound to make mistakes. On the other hand, every learning project you put out has a shelf life too. Nothing is supposed to last forever. As L&D teams generally operate with limited resources, it’s important to use them effectively. In some cases, this can mean cutting the legacy program off life support or stopping a program even during the learning design process.

As learning is a highly contextual event, we can’t expect to be able to run same programs year after year. Eventually, subject matter and delivery methods become so out of date that it’s not simply worth it to invest into “fixing and fine tuning” anymore. At this point, it’s important for learning designers to know when to cut ties with the old. If you want to create new and design new things, you can’t have excess baggage slowing you down in the beginning. Furthermore, it’s also important to act when a project is not going in the desired direction. Content might be out of date even before launch, wrong delivery methods may have been chosen or a variety of other factors might negatively affect the outcomes. At some point, it’s just much better to start all over or forget it altogether than forcefully pushing through the existing course of planning.

Final words

While organisations manage their learning design process and operations very differently, it’s hard to dispute the benefits of a more learner-centric approaches. Investing adequate time into discovery, seeking feedback often and early, and avoiding throwing good money after bad are things that don’t cost much but can save you a lot of time and effort. Therefore, learning organisations should take note.

3 Virtual Learning Ideas for Social Connectivity

Virtual Learning Ideas for Social Connectivity

3 Virtual Learning Ideas for Social Connectivity

As the current work-from-home and social distancing measures force people out of the offices, we find ourselves in a new situation. While remote working has been around for a long time, the current scale is unprecedented. Coincidentally, over the past few months, we’ve started to unearth some of the psychological difficulties in prolonged remote work arrangements. One of such difficulties is related to human connection. Fundamentally, people are social animals, and taking social opportunities away can have adverse impact on mental wellbeing. Therefore, we came up with 3 different virtual learning ideas that increase social connectivity. Let’s take a look!

Try out user-generated content

User-generated content can be a big opportunity in times like these. This means giving your learners and users (i.e. employees) the ability to create and share learning content and resources. By creating learning for each other, they are engaging in a socially connecting activity already. However, it’s not just for the creator. It’s likely that the consumer of the learning content may feel an increased sense of social connectivity as well. As the content comes from a peer, it can be very relatable and empathetic of the challenges people face.

User-generated content can take the form of even formal courses, but it can be much more granular and low-key too. Think blogs, resources, “homemade” videos, how-to materials, virtual classrooms facilitated by the learners themselves. Sky is the limit when it comes to creating content nowadays, but it doesn’t mean that small couldn’t be successful. Additionally, by using your users smartly, you can alleviate some of the L&D team’s pressure and reinforce a learning culture in the organisation.

Experiment with virtual lunch & learns

Besides the lack of social connectivity, another deficiency of working from home can be lack of structure. At the office, working days may often be structured around a common schedule. Everyone goes to lunch together, people share a coffee break, etc. Virtual lunch & learns can be an opportunity to get two birds with one stone. Firstly, they can bring added structure by setting a recurring activity. Secondly, lunch can be a great time to reinforce social connectivity with casual talks and chats.

The learning part shouldn’t be too serious, but the focus should be on social connectivity. It’s important to keep it casual enough for people to let down their guard and connect. However, it could be a great opportunity to do some informal sharing, e.g. about what different people do in the organisation, how they cope with the current situation and so on. These kind of sessions require very little effort, just an online video training tool of some kind, or even consumer-grade social media apps.

Start running a virtual book club

While people spend an increased amount of time inside four walls, they also need meaningful non-work activities to help them unwind. Hopefully, not all of it would involve sitting in front of a screen either. By informally surveying our peers and colleagues, we found that people are reading more books when they are confined to their homes to balance out the screen time. This sounds like a ripe opportunity for a virtual book club!

In addition to social connectivity, book clubs can be an incredibly powerful empathetic learning experience. And the core of the learning has less to do with the subject matter of the book than you think. The real power is in the discussion after reading the book. It never ceases to amaze us how differently different people read and perceive different characters, events and themes in books. If you’ve ever participated in a book club that spends a lot of time reflecting on the reading, you have surely noticed what you may have perceived as true, just or right was the complete opposite in someone else’s mind. The great power of book clubs consequently is in unearthing those differences and articulating their foundations. By doing this, we understand each other and our world views just a little bit better and can become more empathetic human beings.

That being said, there’s naturally a lot of great non-fiction out there that would surely spark a lot of new and fresh ideas for the business or work practices! Just go ahead and start looking!

How to Design Reflection in Digital Learning

Designing reflection in digital learning

How to Design Reflection into Digital Learning

Research on cognitive science and learning has solidified reflection as an integral part to the learning process. However, it’s not always utilised to its maximum potential in corporate learning programs. In many cases, opportunities for reflection are foregone outright. While certain types of training may provide a more natural platform for reflection, such as leadership training or soft skills, it can be used in practically any type of learning activity. Here’s a little guide on how to design reflection in digital learning experiences.

Why we need reflection in digital learning experiences

There’s quite a number of reasons that make the importance of reflecting on one’s learning apparent. First of all, articulating one’s own thoughts is a key part of learning. Understanding concepts is the beginning, but being able to verbally relate the concept into other concepts and contexts brings learning to the next level. When people can generate their own original insights they are learning at their best.

Secondly, reflection in digital learning is crucial to having a lasting impact. Often, digital learning experiences may revolve on a theoretical level, unlike real life and work conditions. In such case, it’s up to the learner to build the bridge between the concept and how it applies to their work. Experience shows that unless it’s explicitly required, people often don’t take a moment to link the learning to their own tasks. While good learning design helps to bridge the gap, it’s unlikely that it can eliminate the need for reflection entirely. Therefore, providing an opportunity for people to consider the subject matter and how they may use it is a great enabler.

Thirdly, reflections on digital learning also build ground for business improvement. A collective reflection process can act as a fail-safe and a continuous review mechanism. When groups of employees are sharing their thoughts and experiences on learning, they’re bound to point out inefficiencies. Furthermore, constructive group reflection can be a great source of process improvement, whereby learners collectively conceptualise and suggest better ways of doing things.

How to design reflection into digital learning

Designing reflection doesn’t need grande investments, and not even significant amounts of extra effort. Rather, it’s just about providing opportunities for it and incentivising it. While reflection can come in many forms, here’s a handy process cycle that you can follow where possible.

  1. Learning a concept
  2. Reflecting on the concept itself
  3. Reflecting on one’s personal experience
  4. Review the reflections and experiences of others
  5. Articulate own insights

Providing opportunities for the above is really all it takes. Naturally, the tools and methods can also vary. For self-reflection, a journal-like tool or feature may be helpful. In intensive training or coaching situations, a trainer can also keep track and comment on the learner’s reflections. For group reflections and reviewing others’ thoughts, different social learning tools may come in handy. This goes for articulating one’s own insights too, naturally.

What does good reflection look like?

As mentioned, for the most part, reflection in digital learning is about providing the opportunity for it. However, there are a certain rules of thumb that it’s advisable to follow.

Firstly, reflection should be structured. An ad hoc call to “reflect on this topic please” won’t get you very far. Instead, you need to build in reflection opportunities into the learning experience. You can incentivise reflection, or make it even compulsory to complete a program. Structure in terms of e.g. guiding questions helps. Entirely free-form discussions have shown not to function as well as facilitated ones. If the point of reflection is not entirely apparent, spell it out.

Secondly, good digital learning reflection is also continuous. A single instance of a feedback form at the end of a course won’t get you those great insights. Instead, reflection should travel along across the whole learning journey, from the beginning to the end. This provides better opportunities for learners to manage their own learning too.

Thirdly, great reflection is arguably social. By limiting learners to self-reflection only, we are limiting them for access to the wealth of different world views out there. People are very different. And it’s a constant surprise how different the thinking of people in the same environment (e.g. work) may be. Bringing these differences to light is a richness, and learning designers should embrace it.

Final words

Overall, designing reflection into digital learning is a low-hanging fruit. It can significantly improve the learning value of different activities, and it doesn’t cost a lot of time or money to do it. It’s likely that you already have the tools and platforms in place, in which case it’s just a matter of providing the opportunity. And if you don’t, or if you feel like you could use some help in your corporate learning design and content development, feel free to reach out to us here. We’re happy to help.

Tips for Engaging Live Online Video Training

Live Online Video Training Tips

Tips for Engaging Live Online Video Training

Amidst the COVID-19 epidemic, organisations have increasingly moved their learning and training to online. As employees often may work from home, online has become the primary medium for them to learn. While online learning can take place in many ways, we’ve seen a significant increase in live online video training. Whereas normal content digitalisation might be too time-consuming, organisations have found they can digitalise quickly with the help of e.g. webinars and video coaching sessions. However, for many practitioners and organisations, training online in this manner is something new. Therefore, we thought we’d put out a quick guide on how to make this kind of training engaging and effective.

The more interactivity, the better

Sometimes, online video training can be quite a dull affair. The format easily transposes into one-sided lecturing, where the learner’s role is just a passive listener. However, webinars and video sessions can be much more interactive. To really get the most out of the format, you should make it a two-way street. The more learners participate, the more engaged they’ll stay. Therefore, ask questions often, ask learners to share their own experiences, and use polls and exercises to break the routine and create engagement. Also, don’t be afraid to use humour, and try not only to connect with the learners but have them connect with each other.

If you’re presenting, rethink your “slides”

Often, online video training includes some kind of “presenting” by a trainer or facilitator. Especially in these times, it’s likely that the facilitator is using the same slide deck that they’d normally use in a face-to-face setting. However, that can be far from optimal. While you certainly shouldn’t scrap the material altogether, it often pays to make minor adjustments. First of all, in a face-to-face setting, people often rely on the presenter’s body language, tone and presence to take note e.g. when topics change or when key information comes up. However, most of these cues don’t get conveyed through the video. Therefore, you should make sure that the slides and material you use stands out in a way that enables learners to keep up with what’s going on. Instead of lots of text in on the standard corporate deck layout, use highly visual and attention grabbing elements.

Furthermore, don’t include too much information on the slides. You don’t want your learners drinking from the firehose. Similar to principles of microlearning, you’ll want to only present one talking point per slide. Also, by limiting the information on one slide, you’ll be changing slides more often, which helps to keep learners engaged. Also, focus on painting pictures not only through visuals, but also through storytelling. People remember great stories much better than lists of facts and numbers.

Keep it concise, and break it up often

While it’s important to keep the material concise, the same rule applies to the whole live online video training session itself. After all, we can only concentrate effectively for a limited time. Therefore, if your session runs more than an hour in length, you can question whether you’re doing things the most efficient way possible. Also, during the sessions, make sure you break it up often enough. Doing a quick refresher activity, polling, exercises etc. every 15 minutes or so activates the learners and enables them to clarify topics that they might not have fully grasped.

Use the functionalities of your online video training tool to their best

While you don’t necessarily have to invest a lot of money to get started with this type of live online video training, it’s still a good idea to use the tools to their best ability. Here are a few common features across different systems, and how you can use them:

  • Chats: You can use global and individual chats to engage learners, and enable them to ask questions. By posting questions in a chat, they won’t have to interrupt the flow of the facilitator.
  • Recording: most tools are also capable of recording the sessions, which lets learners view them at a later date. However, we don’t often recommend using the recordings as they are, but rather quickly editing them into a more coherent and fast-paced pieces.
  • Polling tools: these enable you to quickly deploy polls to the audience, which help you to map out whether they understood the topic or not and where they might need more emphasis.
  • Mobile-friendly: live online video training should be accessible on mobile too. The most easy-to-use tools nowadays are fully responsive and HTML5-based, enabling learners to access them on just the browser.
  • Learning platform integration: in an ideal world, you’d want the video tool to be integrated to your learning platform (e.g. LMS) to enable automatic tracking of participation etc.

Final thoughts

Live online video training can become a great medium with just a little effort and investment. Like in any kind of learning, interactivity is a key factor. Also, it pays to make the best use of the tools available to you. If you are looking to upgrade your capabilities when it comes to this type of online learning, we’re happy to help. Feel free to reach out to us through our contact page.

Skills Assessment in Digital Learning – 4 Methods

Skills Assessment in Digital Learning

Skills Assessment in Digital Learning – 4 Methods Beyond Quizzes

Skills assessment in online learning can often be a challenge. Whereas we are used to using quizzes to assess knowledge, that may not be quite enough when it comes to practical skills. While quizzes and such often fare well in assessing conceptual knowledge, they have some shortcomings. While conceptual knowledge inarguably forms the foundation, it’s often the execution of the skill in practice that matters in the end. Consequently, that’s also what we should try to evaluate better. Here are 4 methods for practical skills assessment in online learning.

1. Work Samples as Evaluation Mediums

For many practical tasks and jobs, work samples can provide a way of assessing skills development beyond just conceptual learning. In the era of the smartphone and all kinds of pocket-sized recording devices, learners can capture themselves performing a task. They can then submit this to instructors, trainers or supervisors as a piece of evidence that they can indeed execute the tasks. This type of skills assessment in digital learning can also work in e.g. certification training or compliance training. While this does add an additional step to the workflows of both learners and trainers, it still can be easy enough to implement in circumstances that require it.

2. Task-based Simulations

Task-based simulations constitute another medium for skills assessment in digital learning. While you can design them on many different complexity levels, all of the simulation can still happen virtually. In the low-end of complexity, these simulations may consist of situation painted via pictures, text and audio. On the higher end, you can use e.g. videos. Add on questions centred around the practical skills execution, and you can already go quite a long way. Nowadays, tools like 360 immersions and VR provide another level of immersion on top of the conventional mediums incorporated in task-based simulations.

3. Online Collaboration and Discussions

For some particular type of skills, social collaboration and discussions via online tools can also provide a handy method for evaluation. Soft skills, and their practical execution, can be a good theme to centre online discussions around. While creating social presence in learners is important, these methods also help learners to articulate their own views, experiences and challenges. Discussion platforms also enable learners to get support from fellow colleagues trying to overcome the same kind of challenges. When it comes to skills assessment in digital learning, trainers can use these discussions and reflections as a base for their evaluation. The ways you reflect and articulate the meaning of learning tends to be quite a good indicator of learning. Furthermore, learners can also share evidence of “putting it into practice” via these mediums.

4. Branching Scenarios

Finally, branching scenarios and scenario-based tools can provide another effective way of doing digital skills assessment. The scenarios are built to depict real-life situations, and the learners’ task is to manage the situation at hand. These have proven quite effective in assessing skills in e.g. sales, customer service, SOPs, compliance, code of conduct and many more. With good tracking tools based on the xAPI standard, assessors can capture the data of all the interactions and choices taken in the scenario. Therefore, they have a more comprehensive view of the learners’ performance to support their assessment, instead of simply relying on a “final score”.

Final words

As our discourse in the L&D space moves from knowledge to skills, we need to make sure that our methods do as well. While there’s more to learning than just evaluation, skills assessment forms an integral part of modern learning. We need to thus develop better capabilities for assessing practical skills, and do that increasingly online. Therefore, it’s good to consider different methods for skills assessment in digital learning. While building this kind of assessment requires some effort up front, it does pay itself back. And should you need help in the design, we are happy to help. Just drop us a note here.

How to Design Feedback Loops in Corporate Learning

Feedback Loops in Corporate Learning

How to Design Corporate Learning Feedback Loops

Feedback is essential to how humans operate. As we go about our lives, we encounter many cause and effect type of natural feedback loops. A certain event triggers a certain response, which in turn, becomes a trigger for another response, forming a long cause-effect chain. Ultimately, these chains benefit us as they guide our actions. Feedback loops in corporate learning, meanwhile, should work similarly. As learners complete tasks, we should provide them with positive or negative feedback, helping to adjust their future performance.

While feedback in general should always be of the growth type, it should also be timely and specific. Here’s a 4-step process on designing feedback in practice.

Everything should start with the aim

The aim of the learning is the most important thing to start with. A good learning objective unpacks and clearly communicates the learner what it is that they’re supposed to be striving for. Therefore, it’s vital to pay attention to the objectives already at the design stage. What do the people need to learn, and how does the particular learning resources contribute to achieving that. Every piece of material should always have an aim on its own too.

While knowledge-based objective tend to be the most common, we’d suggest trying to go a bit deeper. In organisations, learning is rarely important because of “knowing” but rather because of “doing”. Therefore, the objectives should be centred around doing too. In practical terms, this means setting up performance objectives in place of conventional learning objectives. Often, they are far less ambiguous and help to clearly communicate the expectations to the learner.

The feedback exchange

The next step for an effective feedback loop in corporate learning is to actually give feedback. First of all, feedback should always be specific. This means that rather than e.g. just pointing out that something went wrong, guiding the learners to the right path. Secondly, feedback should also be timely. The more often, the better. With different digital tools, it’s easy to build streams of feedback across a variety of activities. You can automate a lot of it, in fact.

Then again, feedback should also be non-evaluative to avoid any misunderstandings and keep the focus on getting back to the right path. Finally, all the feedback should be focused on the aims discussed above. If your feedback goes outside the framework of those aims, you might have to either revise the aims or making sure you’re sticking to the agreed-upon “rules”. It’s not fair to expect something out of the learners if you don’t clearly communicate it!

Give opportunities to revise and apply

For feedback to be effective, learners need to first of all identify the right course of action, and then get back on it. This means, that once feedback is given, there should be opportunities to try again. Hence, when designing your learning experiences, make sure the feedback is continuous. If feedback is only at the end, you might keep away the opportunity to improve. Rather, a good learning experience should include a number of ways to practice and apply the new knowledge. The learners would get real-time feedback of these activities, and be able to improve. Then, as another practice opportunity still remains, they can put the new knowledge into practice in a safe environment.

Again, digital tools and technologies grant a lot of possibilities in this space. One can use many different kinds of exercises and activities to give learners the needed space to revise and apply.

Reflection is a key to learning

Finally, one piece of corporate learning feedback loops that is often forgotten, is reflection. To form a closed loop, it’s important to look back at the initial aims and goals. Did learners achieve the given objectives? Did they grow their skills or increase in proficiency? Was learning put into practice?

Learners should, of course, be in the centre of this reflection activity. It’s important for them to grasp the process and their own performance. However, as learning designers, it’s our responsibility to build in such opportunities. Reflections may be personal and individual, but they could also be shared or facilitated digitally. This could for instance enable people to learn from each other’s reflection.

How to support feedback loops in corporate learning with technology?

Ultimately, technology helps us a great deal in designing for and facilitating good feedback processes. Things like digital surveys, social media tools, coaching assistants and personal learning analytics can provide very useful. On the content side, there are also tools like gamification, adaptive learning and scenario-based learning that build on the idea of rapid, continuous feedback. If you’d like to explore how to build better feedback loops for your organisation, get in touch here.

Navigation Design in Digital Learning – 3 Approaches

Navigation design in digital learning

Navigation Design in Digital Learning

From a design perspective, the digital learning field has been evolving quite a lot in recent years. Whereas we used to rely on highly linear e-learning experiences, we have since understood that we might need other types of delivery too. When designing learning, navigation is an integral part of the final experience: do we want learners to be able to explore freely? Or do we want them to stick to the “path” that we’ve designed? Naturally, there are various benefits and downfalls for any approach you choose, so let’s examine them in more detail. Here are three different navigation design approaches for digital learning, and their potential impact.

Locked navigation: structured, linear paths

First, locked navigation is still probably the prevalent and previously dominant approach in e-learning. What locked navigations means is that learners have to proceed through the learning experience in a pre-defined order. Proceeding to the next step may require playing all the content in the module, completing assessment or performing other tasks. The predominant logic of locked navigation design is that there’s a pre-defined path and each learner should go through it all.

Benefits

  • If you’re using narrative in the learning experience, learners get the whole story.
  • The experience is highly consistent among all learners
  • The user experience and flow is smooth: learners don’t have to worry about where to go next

Pitfalls

  • Forces learners to go through everything, which often results in a more one-size-fits-all experience than something personalised.
  • Doesn’t address learner needs and context very well, e.g. some might only need parts of the information, which is now locked down.

Unlocked navigation design: free-flow discovery

Opposite to locked navigation, unlocked design entails more free-flowing learning experiences. Whereas learners were previously on a pre-structured path, here they’re able to choose where to go, based on their immediate needs and preference. In general, there is some narrative or linear sequence to the learning experience, and navigation aids to guide the learner, but the final “journey” is highly dependent on the individual.

Benefits

  • Individuals can pick and choose what to learn and when, which personalises the experience ever so slightly
  • They can direct their efforts as they see fit. E.g. skip topics they already know, while putting more time into the new things.
  • The experience is less likely to feel forced and “pushy”

Pitfalls

  • Without adequate cues or nudges, the learners might miss or skip some important things.
  • Narrative structures don’t work with a “free-flow” design approach
  • Learners have to self-regulate their own learning; are they capable of doing that?

Adaptive learning navigation design

Finally, a third alternative, enabled by technology, is adaptive learning design. What it means is that the choice and curation responsibility of the learners is eliminated. Instead, through careful and meticulous design and content mapping, each learner is directed onto a journey based on their previous performance. For instance, a learner scoring low for a particular topic might be given reinforcement on it, whereas a more advanced learner might be allowed to skip the module altogether. The idea is to deliver highly personalised learning and eliminate the burden of choice.

Benefits

  • The learning experience is personal and tailor-made to each individual
  • Continuous assessment of learning, skills and engagement to direct learners further
  • Each play-through can be different, and learners don’t have to worry about finding the right things

Pitfalls

  • Designing adaptive learning content requires an extensive amount of work initially
  • AI algorithms powering up the “adaptive” require training, however the process is possible to do without AI

Final words

Overall, it’s good to see that learning and development is utilising more varied navigation design practices. Just like with any design, the goal should be to find the right fit for the given situation. Therefore, it’s really important to spend time on these approaches in the design phase. If you’d like to explore possibilities with different navigation design strategies for your digital learning, don’t hesitate to drop us a note. We’d be happy to help.

Knowledge Assessment in Corporate Learning – 5 Methods

Knowledge Assessment in Corporate Learning

Knowledge Assessment in Corporate Learning – 5 Methods

Whenever we do training, it’s generally a good idea to include some kind of assessment. As organisations, proper knowledge assessment enables us to track employee development and conduct analysis on instructional efficacy. While it’s important to go beyond this level of assessment to capture real organisational impact, it’s vital to get the basics right. A challenge in corporate learning is that the evaluation is often too immediate, intimidating and ineffective. Here are 5 methods that not only help in those aspects, but can also make testing more fun!

Continuous assessment with low-key quizzes

One of the challenges of assessment is that it’s often only administered after the fact. However, good evaluation should be continuous. Therefore, instead of saving the quizzes and test until the end of the course or activity, distribute them throughout. This also helps you as the evaluator to spot learning challenges early and intervene accordingly. Furthermore, instead of a daunting battery of never-ending questions, use them in small sets embedded in the content. This makes the whole thing a little more approachable, as the continuous type of questioning feels more like exercises than formal testing.

Constant tracking of activities

Another less quizzing-focused way of knowledge assessment is seamless tracking. The idea is to use comprehensive data collection tools, such as xAPI, to continuously collect engagement data on digital learning experiences. Formal testing is replaced by benchmark measures for user inputs and outputs, that the analytics track learners against. For instance, those who engage with a training video for its full length receive a “higher score” than those who didn’t. Alternatively, those who have made contributions or reflections about the learning on the organisation’s social learning platforms receive higher marks than the rest. These are just a few examples, but the goal is to make evaluation as seamless and automatic as possible.

Scenario-based simulations as knowledge assessment tools

Training simulations are not only good for simulating real life scenarios, they can also be used in highly practice-oriented assessment. This form of evaluation models real life situations and application contexts of the content. Therefore, instead of just answering abstract questions, the learners are able to apply the knowledge in a virtual environment. Depending on the training topic, you can assess multiple variables, e.g. speed, accuracy and confidence. The great thing about these simulations is that they also can make learners more confident in applying the skills on the real job environment, as they’ve got some practice under their belts.

Social analytics for social learners

In case you’ve already implemented social learning tools in your organisation, there’s an interesting alternative to conventional quizzing. Relying on the notion that reflection is one of the most important parts of learning, social analytics can help us to analyse interactions and provide a novel way of knowledge assessment. If you’ve implemented e.g. discussion boards, you could use analytics tools to evaluate learners based on the quantity and quality of discussion they bring in. For instance, simple counters can collect the quantity of comments by a particular learner. Similarly, other algorithms can determine the quality of those comments – whether they contribute to the discussion or not. If you already have a good learning culture, this could present an interesting alternative to some assessment.

Before-, after- and long-after quizzes

Finally, if nothing else, you should at least provide a knowledge assessment opportunity before and after a learning activity. This helps you gain insights into the development that happens. Furthermore, pre-tests can also serve as valuable data sources for instructors and designers, based on which to personalise the learning content. However, an interesting addition would be “long-after quizzes”. The problem with most post-training tests is that they’re too immediate. They tend to capture short term recall rather than real learning. As the forgetting curve tells us, people tend to forget a lot over time. Therefore, introducing quizzes some time after the training can serve a meaningful purpose of capturing the amount of knowledge that really stuck.

Final words

Overall, good assessment is an art form of sorts. There’s no single right answer to what works best. As long as you’re working towards more formative assessment, you’re on the right track. Getting the basics right by asking good eLearning questions also helps a lot. However, this kind of knowledge assessment is only the beginning. We still need to understand how learning translates into action, and how action translates to performance. And it’s the latter two that pose the real challenge in corporate learning. In case you need help solving those challenges, or just in building better corporate learning assessment, we’re happy to help. Just drop us a note here and tell us about your challenge.

5 Tips for Designing Great Job Aids

Designing Great Job Aids

5 Tips for Designing Great Job Aids

As the 70:20:10 theory implies, a lot of learning in organisations happens outside the boundaries of formal training. While we often cater to the formal side, there’s a lot of other important use cases for learning. With the current speed of change in business, being able to up-skill people ahead of time becomes more unrealistic. Often, we just have to start doing faster, and hope that it goes well. But the inability to train people beforehand doesn’t mean we have to forgo training altogether. Job aids, for instance, are a great way of providing learning resources on the job. Here’s what you should take into account when designing them.

1. Simplify radically

One of the key characteristics of job aids is that employees engage with them within the workflow. To minimise disruptions to that workflow, we need to minimise the time spent querying information. Therefore, similar to the logic of good storytelling, job aids should be as simple as possible. Don’t circle around the topic, but dive right in. This is not a medium to display every single bit of knowledge either, but rather to provide concise information to help the employee with a highly specific task. Everything that goes beyond that or doesn’t support that goal is excess clutter, and should be removed.

While simplifying radically enables employees to find the information faster, it also eliminates the need to spend time on making judgement calls on what information is relevant. Therefore, they’re able to get back to peak performance faster.

2. Avoid excessive use of interactivity

In the general realm of digital learning, we often talk about the importance of interactivity. While interactivity is vital in creating engagement around the learning content, with job aids, it rarely serves a purpose. As the goal is to consume nuggets of information as rapidly as possible, any interactive elements, such as questions sets, exercises and the like just get in the way.

Instead, simplify the content also in this regard. Often the simpler the better. We should always choose content types based on their fit for purpose and ability to convey the information. Videos might be the best options for some material, whereas simple text and images might work for some.

3. Make it searchable

In most cases, these type of performance support resources are accessed via some kind of system. Accessibility is a big consideration in designing effective job aids. You can design great resources, but if we bury them inside a complex, layered LMS system, finding them might become too much of a burden. If we don’t provide employees with a seamless way of making queries and finding the right material from the library, they’ll quickly default back to Google and Youtube.

Therefore, it’s important to first of all make the content searchable. The nature of job aids entails that there’s going to be quite a lot of them. To enable employees to find the relevant stuff fast, you do need a search function. While identifying the right content is important, it might also be beneficial to be able to search for e.g. keywords within a piece of content, to locate the relevant information faster. If you’re doing videos, providing navigation buttons inside the video might make sense.

4. Make the user experience simple

As mentioned, employees often access job aids via a platform, tool or a system of some sorts. Whatever the system is, it’s important that the user experience is fluid, natural and easy to use. The experience must be intuitive, meaning that employees don’t have to spend time on learning how to use the system. The less clutter there is, the better.

Generally, performance support tools or job aid portals contain a much more limited set of features compared to conventional learning tools. If you’re implementing one, it’s a good idea to review out-of-the-box or “popular” features, and consider whether they’re actually necessary for this particular use case.

5. Understand the users’ context

Finally, it’s incredibly important to understand how the employees actually engage with tools like these. Often, but not always, these types of job aids tend to be consumed on the mobile. If that’s the case, you’ll want to focus on that as your primary medium, and employe best practices for mobile learning design. If the use case is more corporate office, you might see more desktop use, and thus have more “real estate” to play with.

Going beyond devices, it’s also important to understand the use situations, i.e. the learning opportunities in the workflow, in more detail. E.g. if employees are using job aid videos on a noisy factory floor, they might not be able to hear the sounds of videos. Thus, it may be necessary to provide subtitles and ensure that the information is conveyed even without narration.

Final words

Across industries, we are seeing a trend of looking beyond the conventional formal training when considering the corporate “learning mix”. Well-designed job aids are a great way of providing performance support and rapid learning within the workflow and on-the-job. Not only does this enable people to maintain better productivity, it may also make sense for learning too, as all learning gets put into practice right away, which tends to increase retention. If you’re looking into job aids, and think you may need help in designing them or implementing proper tools for them, we might be able to help. Just drop us a note here.