4 Tips for Modern Instructional Design

Modern instructional design

4 Tips for Modern Instructional Design

Similar to corporate learning, instructional design (ID) is a field that is undergoing a bit of a transformation. While corporates are shifting their efforts into workflow learning and performance impact, instructional designers will see their roles shift as well. This shift is multi-faceted and will require practitioners to learn new skills, adopt new methods and expand their overall role in the organisation. To provide some guidance, here are 4 tips for modern instructional design that you should look into.

1. There are no more fixed models or approaches

Instructional design is a field full of frameworks and models (e.g. Gagne’s nine stages, ADDIE, etc.). However, it’s the overuse of these types of models and frameworks that has pushed the ID practitioners so far away from the business. The problems are multifaceted. On one hand, these models don’t really work with the speed of the business. On the other hand, they produce very boring and homogeneous type of learning. Design is never absolute, but always relative. Thus, instead of pushing subject matter through different dated models, modern instructional designers should focus on solving the business problems at the speed of the business through iterative development and practical problem solving.

2. Instructional Design’s focus is no longer just on materials

A bad system kills good material – and vice versa. If instructional designers want to produce impactful learning experiences, they can no longer focus on just the material. Even the best and most beautifully designed material will never work if it has to be accessed through a system with bad user experience. Hence, ID practitioners have to start working on a higher level, focusing on the learning experience as a whole. User experience is no longer a nice-to-have, but it’s perhaps the most important thing. Additionally, the profession will likely incorporate more and more elements of service design into its normal workflow.

3. IDs should start with the end in mind, not the design

As important as design is, it should never be the starting point. As corporate learning becomes increasingly performance-focused, the goal of the ID work will be to evoke the needed behavioural change in the organisation, not just convey knowledge. We often see unnecessary complexity just because the designer had discovered “a new cool thing” that they felt compelled to incorporate everywhere. No one today has time for that. To really understand the behaviours in the organisation and how to deliver performance impact, instructional designers will be required to align much more closely within the business. ID practitioners have to be ready to deliver solutions also outside of the traditional scope of their jobs- After all, training is rarely the right answer to a business problem. Perhaps one day the ID team will even share the same KPIs as the operations!

4. Instructional designers need to grasp new tech but not get fixated on it

The technology landscape around instructional design is developing very fast. Over the last decade, we’ve seen tools such as videos, animations, simulations, AR, VR and many more emerge. It’s more important than ever that ID professionals know these tools. These are the mediums your learners have and will get used to as consumers. And you shouldn’t expect them to tone down their expectations for your corporate learning. However, it’s again important not to get carried away with one particular technology. A good example of “getting carried away” would be the slide-based eLearning authoring tools and their prevalence. While they’re good tools, many instructional designers and learning professionals seem to know nothing else. The worrying moment comes when we start measuring learning projects in ‘number of slides’ (oops, that might have already happened…). Once again, it’s thus important to keep the end in mind and select the technology based on that.

Overall, corporate instructional design has to become more integrated with the business – or face extinction. The roles within the function will become broader and perhaps represent more “service design for learning”. On a professional level, there are great opportunities for individuals who get this right. Remember, if you need help in developing these modern instructional design capabilities in your organisation, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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5 Lessons from Cognitive Science for Corporate Learning

Cognitive Science for Corporate Learning

5 Lessons from Cognitive Science for Corporate Learning

Design matters. That’s true for many things, corporate learning being one of them. However, the research foundations of learning design can sometimes seem ambiguous. There’s also a lot of invalid information and “myths” (e.g. “learning styles”) floating around. While there’s a lot of talk about neuroscience, that’s still too new of a field for us to comprehend. Therefore, it might be useful to remind ourselves of the things we already do know. Thus, here are 5 lessons from cognitive science for corporate learning design.

1. Make connections with the learners’ prior experience and knowledge

First of all, it’s important that we enable the brain to form the new connections required for learning. Thus, we should guide the learners into putting the newly learnt into context with what they already know. But it’s also possible to flip that around. With a proper use of learning analytics, we can understand that knowledge and those experiences beforehand, and then design the learning accordingly. These types of personalised learning experiences come naturally with a higher contextual value and effect.

2. Facilitate the whole cycle of learning

The second lesson from cognitive science for corporate learning is that we should always facilitate the full cycle of learning: absorbing information, active testing, reflection and creation. Hence, learning must not be just passive slide decks and multiple choice questions. Rather, we should be encouraging and inviting reflection at all stages. We’d also probably be better off ditching some of the mundane multiple choice trivia questions for something a bit more intellectually stimulating. Finally, we should ensure there are opportunities to ‘create’ and put the newly learnt into practice. With the modern type of learning in the workflow, that already happens more naturally, but not all learning can take place like that.

3. Put your attention on attention

In cognitive science, attention as a cognitive process acts as a prerequisite for everything else. Without attention there can be no perception, learning etc. Thus, it’s important that we gain and hold our learners’ attention, and also help to refocus it where necessary. This is what the discussion about learning engagement is all about. To combat the loss of attention, you should design learning that is interactive and interesting. To achieve that, you could use mediums like animations, interactive videos or simulations and take advantage of methods like storytelling. You should also make sure your learning materials direct the learner adequately on where to focus.

4. Enable social engagement and interaction

However, that one type of engagement is probably not enough. Rather, you should also find ways to incorporate social engagement in your learning design. Discussions, sharing, mimicking and shared experiences are all integral components of the learning process. In a classroom setting, enabling these means shifting the focus from the trainer to the learners. In a digital environment, it means shifting focus from delivered content to co-created information. Overall, there are a lot of tools out there to facilitate this type of interactivity and social presence in learning. Look into it!

5. Engage a maximum number of senses – start with visual

While the notion of learning styles has largely been proven false, there are some things that seem to hold true when it comes to learning design. Research in cognitive science and aligned fields indicates that multi-sensory learning improves efficacy. The more senses you can activate, the better the learning results – roughly speaking. Furthermore, it seems that the visual element is of great significance. Thus, you should look into many more mediums than just conventional classroom instruction or those “eLearning slide decks”. You can start small and gradually make your learning experiences more visual and then go on as far as activating touch and motion with e.g. augmented reality.

Overall, we should pay more attention to cognitive science in corporate learning. By understanding what makes learning work, we already get so much closer to designing great learning experiences. And remember, if you think you might need help in any of this, we’re here for you. Just drop us a note.

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Converting ILT to Digital Learning? Don’t Overlook These 3 Things

Converting ILT to Digital Learning

Converting ILT to Digital Learning? Don’t Overlook These 3 Things

As organisations are increasingly exploring the opportunities of digital learning, the transition process from face-to-face to online becomes an issue that needs to be managed. Thanks to increased efficiency and even efficacy, digital offers a lot that face-to-face. However, you should never blindly digitalise learning experiences without thinking it through. Online learning lends itself to some topics better than others. Furthermore, you should always try to augment learning experiences into workflow, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to that. Thus, the digitalisation process should be about finding ways to find meaningful ways of using technology to support learning. That being said, if you’ve gone through the consideration and notice there are instructor-led training (ILT) activities that should be transformed from classroom based to digital, there are a few things to consider. Here are 3 often overlooked considerations when it comes to converting ILT to digital learning.

1. You cannot afford to lose the social context of learning

A major thing that most people don’t seem to realise about converting ILT to digital learning is the social aspect. It’s not just the content or instruction that defined a classroom experience, but it’s the social interaction. People learn from each other, and there’s a lot of value in facilitating discussions and sharing outside of the immediate corporate-defined scope of instruction.

Thus, you should really look into ways of integrating collaborative activities and peer interactions into the digital learning experience. Nowadays, there are a number of good social learning platforms out there that get you quite far. But it’s also about building the content in a way that sparks spur-of-the-moment interactions, discussions and reflection.

2. Don’t forget the instructor either – self-paced is not always the best answer

The other element that many tend to cut right at the start of converting ILT to online learning is the instructor. While self-paced learning is on the rise, and much of workplace learning is experiential, everything shouldn’t be. While you can use gamification to keep your learners engaged, the instructor can still play a big role in that. Even with fully online learning experiences, you can still retain the instructor as a facilitator. The facilitator doesn’t necessarily deal with the content or “present” it in any way, but rather he’s there to spark those discussions and encourage interactions. Furthermore, the facilitator can really focus on helping to solve the individual’s learning challenges and provide learning support.

3. You shouldn’t cut corners and try to just reuse existing materials

Finally, you shouldn’t hope for quick wins by just uploading the existing materials to your online learning platform. When converting ILT to online learning, that simply doesn’t work. ILT materials are often presentations and documents. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that both of these are terrible formats of learning in a digital environment. First of all, the user experience is simply horrible and neither of them work on the mobile. Both require pinching, zooming and often display text sizes that are simply not viable for anything less than a desktop computer. Secondly, these traditional ILT content pieces don’t have any engagement once you remove the instructor. They are just words and pictures, and there’s really nothing interactive about them.

So, instead of trying to reuse your old pieces, you should completely redo the components. Modalities like videos, animations, simulations, games and even simple native text work much better.

By avoiding all these practices and focusing on redefining the learning experience as a whole, you’ll unlock the most value. If you want to deliver great learning experiences, there are no short-cuts or quick wins to be had when converting ILT to digital learning experiences. However, the time and resources will pay themselves back quickly!

If you feel you need help in managing your learning content transformation or creating a strategy for it, feel free to reach out to us. We’re happy to help.

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Online Learning Accessibility – Practical Tips for Inclusivity

Online learning accessibility

Online Learning Accessibility – Practical Tips for Inclusivity

If there’s a single universal fact about learning, it’s that there’s not a one-size fits all approach to it. Learners come in various shapes and sizes, each with different profiles and personal traits. Yet, as learning professionals, we should strive to provide each of them an equal opportunity to learning experiences. We should recognise that people learn differently – to some it may seem more difficult than others – and design learning accordingly. To facilitate that in the digital space, here are a few quick tips on improving your online learning accessibility.

Online Learning Accessibility Guidelines

For starters, for learning professionals who wish to remain inclusive, there are two general frameworks that you should be aware of. The first is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) which should provide useful even for technology developers. The second important framework is the Universal Design for Learning (UDL). At times, these might feel dated, but there are a lot of good information there. As is common with learning difficulties in general, it’s hard to understand them without practical examples. These frameworks help in that.

For now, let’s focus a bit more on the 3-fold division of the UDL and what it should mean in practice.

Online learning accessibility tip #1: Provide multiple means of representation

Providing multiple means of representation means to give learner different ways of acquiring knowledge and engaging with the learning materials. While nowadays video is one of the more prevalent formats in corporate learning, it may not be suited for everyone. Moreover, whole lot of traditional learning materials come in text format (handbooks, manuals etc.) – again not suitable for everyone. To really provide all your learners with an equal opportunity to succeed, you should strive to provide the resources in as diverse set of formats as possible, e.g. audio, visual, text.

To put online learning accessibility into practice, you might consider the following easy implementations:

  • Providing text transcripts of videos or multimedia
  • Embedding subtitles on videos
  • For long text content, enabling the possibility of listening to an audio version (easy, free and quick to do with text-to-speech tools)

Online learning accessibility tip #2: Provide multiple means of expression

While it’s important to provide equal access to information, it’s equally important to facilitate equal assessment! Wherever there’s learning, there’s usually some type of assessment involved. While in general you should consider more formative assessment methods, these principles apply across the board. Firstly, it’s important to provide varied means of assessment: simple text-based multiple choice questions might be limiting for many. Secondly, it’s important to enable activities different from “final exams” where the learners can use their strengths to demonstrate their learning.

To facilitate online learning accessibility for assessment, here’s a few easy things you can do:

  • Instead of text-based quizzes, incorporate more visual methods like drag-and-drops, flashcards and simulations.
  • Enable users to demonstrate their knowledge in various forms: writing, audio/video recordings or through their daily tasks.
  • Try to provide alternatives to “exam-based” assessment, such as journals, reflections and portfolios.

Online learning accessibility tip #3: Provide multiple means of engagement

While there are countless formats for learning content, engagement isn’t only limited to that. Rather, in terms of accessibility, engagement refers more to the ways of finding, accessing and consuming learning resources. You should promote autonomy and individual choice by letting your audience engage with learning when it best suits them. Group activities can also help to increase engagement. Whichever deliver formats you choose, always strive for high-context and relevant experiences.

Here are a few easy to implement tips on providing multiple means of engagement:

  • Use omnichannel learning to provide a unified experience and increased ease of access across different platforms
  • Use social learning and group activities to build social presence and consequently increase engagement
  • Create a safe learning environment and a modern learning culture where learners don’t fear making mistakes
  • Provide access to instructor even in case of online learning experiences for personalised guidance and assistance

Overall, we should pay much more attention to inclusivity and accessibility in both offline and online learning. Ultimately, it’s really all about finding ways to help our talent reach their full potential the fastest and providing various of ways of getting there.

If you wish to provide better corporate digital learning experiences or need a helping hand in developing or auditing your online learning accessibility, we are happy to give you a hand. Just drop us a note here.

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From Transactions to Learning Journeys – Tips for Great Learning Experiences

Learning journeys - better learning experiences

From Transactions to Learning Journeys – Tips for Great Learning Experiences

While learning happens in many ways, places and times, something we can all agree on that it’s not a singular event. Rather, learning happens over time. However, in the realm of corporate learning, we often resort to one-time events (training session, eLearning course). Employees go through these “transactions” and soon forget most of the learning. In business, time is naturally of the essence and that creates a pressure to get the learning over with fast. After all, when people are learning, they are generally not producing immediate revenue. However, the lack of time should be no excuse to resort to this type of one-off thinking. When putting in a little bit of effort, you can actually provide your employees with much better learning experiences by changing the way you deliver learning and here’s how to do it. Here are tips on going from “learning events” to learning journeys.

Understand your learners’ needs

When designing learning experiences, it’s imperative that you spend time on understanding your audience. Mapping out the learning journey is a good way to get things started. By listing all the various touch points and changing needs, thoughts and feelings of your people, you can get a better understanding on what the optimal set of activities might look like. You can also employ methods such as learner-centric design to ensure personalisation.

Also, you should note that when you run out of content, the learning doesn’t end. A very natural way of reinforcing learning is through performance support: employees consuming job aids and quick knowledge snacks to support their tasks. Thus, you should design the learning journeys with performance support components.

High frequency and high context win

Naturally, the aim of moving to learning journeys is to introduce more frequent touch points. This follows the principles of spaced learning, where increased retention is derived through recurring exposure. As the frequency increases, the bite size must naturally decrease. While learning resources should be concise and to-the-point – just like in microlearning – they should also be of high contextual value. Don’t deliver resources that the learners don’t need, and be careful about it. Use feedback and analytics to help in determining whether you’re delivering the optimal type of resources.

When it comes to technology, mobile learning tends to lend itself quite well for this sort of high frequency, high context delivery. Rather than trying to activate new behaviours, you’re utilising the existing ways of quickly consuming content.

Use data to constantly refine your learning journeys

Finally, a journey-based learning approach really calls for an increased use of data. Since you have vastly more touch points than before, you’ll also be able to collect a lot more learning data. You should use this data to constantly improve the learning experiences. You can analyse what kind of resources or content are working and what are not. Current and future skill gaps become a lot easier to identify as well. Overall, good analytics help you in going back to the first phase – understanding your learners. The better the understanding, the better the learning experiences.

Ultimately, moving from one-off events (transactions) into more comprehensive learning journeys can even help you to save time. With constant, quality exposure you can achieve remarkable improvements in retention and results.

Are you looking to deliver great digital learning experiences but don’t quite know where to start? We can help you in developing a future proof learning strategy. Just start the discussion here.

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Practical Tips for Writing Online Learning Content

Writing online learning content

Practical Tips for Writing Online Learning Content

Studies have found that the ways we consume and read content on our devices is different to our way of reading traditional documents. While we are using more and more interactive formats of learning such as videos, animations and simulations, sometimes text based elements are the best option. While this post focuses on learning content, the same principles apply to all web writing. First, let’s take a quick look at how people engage with online texts and then move to practical tips for writing online learning content.

How do our learners read online text content?

In their study on internet reading habits, Nielsen Norman Group found that people don’t actually read online texts. Rather, they glance and skim through them. When opening online content, such as a website or a learning module, learners first skim through the text quickly and then return to whichever part seems interesting. Thus, it’s highly important that you make your content skimmable and easy to read. Now, here are some tips on how to put that into practice and write good online learning content.

Write better online learning content with these practical tips

Here’s a list of the most important aspects of writing web-based content.

  • Don’t use uppercase in the body of the text, headings or titles. Only very short individual words can be written in all capital letters.
  • Don’t bold, italicise or underline full sentences. You should only use highlighting for individual words and names, as using too much will decrease efficacy.
  • You should always format sub-headings as heading, rather than simply bold them.
  • Always use list elements to write lists, no dashes.
  • Don’t use consecutive 1-3 row paragraphs, but try to combine them into 5-12 row ones.
  • Always align all text and headings to the left. Never justify online texts.
  • Don’t display long URLs, but rather use descriptive links or graphic buttons to direct attention.

If you follow these guidelines for writing online learning content, your content will likely look good on all devices from smartphones to desktop computers. By catering to your learners’ online reading habits, you can help them to digest information better. Furthermore, if you’re writing content and want it to be found easier (for instance, if you’re marketing online learning), these tips will also help you with search engine optimisation (SEO).

If you’re looking to develop online learning materials or find ways to improve both user experience and retention, we are happy to share ideas. Just contact us.

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How to Use Formative Assessment in Corporate Learning?

How to Use Formative Assessment in Corporate Learning

How to Use Formative Assessment in Corporate Learning?

Wherever there’s learning, there should always be assessment. Assessment naturally comes in many types and formats, but generally a good distinction to draw is that between summative assessment and formative assessment.

In simplified terms, summative assessment focuses on trying to gauge the learning outcomes at the end of the learning activity. Students may be compared against each other and the assessment is a “high stakes” one. Formative assessment, on the other hand, attempts to measure learning throughout the learning activities. Formative evaluation can be considered less competitive – as the evaluation is based on criterion – and relatively “low stakes”.

How does formative assessment benefit corporate learning?

In our experience, a lot of corporate learning assessment is summative. L&D practitioners may dread the extra effort or may not even be familiar with formative practices. Furthermore, the prevalent tendency to developed slide-based courses with an exam at the end feeds into this behaviour. While building formative evaluation does require a bit more effort, the benefits tend to far outweigh the time investment.

Here are some of the benefits of formative assessment in corporate learning:

  • Trainers / L&D is able to recognise learning problems and skill gaps more effectively – on both individual and group levels
  • Learners are able to identify their own problem areas, self-correct and monitor their own progress
  • It provides valuable feedback to L&D to improve learning experiences and activities
  • It promotes active learning on the employees’ part
  • The focus shifts from achieving arbitrary outcomes (test scores, tick-box compliance etc.) to the learning process itself

In general, a well thought-out formative assessment approach helps all the stakeholders – trainers, learners and managers alike.

How to use formative assessment in practice?

Now that you’ve considered the benefits, here are some practical and highly manageable ways to improve your assessments.

The tools for formative assessment are plentiful, and the benefits are not limited to just evaluation either. By replacing summative assessment with something like this, you’ll also be creating much more engaging and learner-centric experiences. Furthermore, the approach is more data-driven by nature, helping you to make more informed L&D decisions. So start investing the time into it!

If you need help on designing digitally enabled assessments to support your learning strategy, we are happy to help. Just contact us.

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How Should We use Non-Linear vs. Linear Learning?

Linear learning vs. non-linear

How Should We Use Non-Linear vs. Linear Learning?

As corporate learning and education professionals, we tend to classify learning activities in many ways. A common classification that most of you have probably encountered somewhere is the distinction between linear and non-linear learning. However, the knowledge on the topic – especially on non-linear learning – doesn’t often go deeper. Hence, organisations – both corporates and educational – often rely heavily on linear learning. So let’s take a look what that means.

What is non-linear and linear learning?

In short, we could explain the two types in the following way:

Linear Learning is often a highly directed, controlled and program-centred approach. In a linear model, we require learners to complete and master a certain level of content before moving to the next one. Learners complete learning activities following often strict, predetermined paths with little flexibility.

Non-linear learning, on the other hand, is much more flexible in nature. Learners learn by exposure to different topics over time with a high degree of freedom. The emphasis is on self-directedness, the learner’s own interest and resources on demand.

In the context of corporates, you could draw a rough illustration: formal learning represents a linear model, where non-linear learning represents learning on the job (by doing, not through instruction).

The problem with linear learning

As most organisations and even schools still fall for linear learning, you may ask what the problem is. Well, firstly and fundamentally, the way we learn in a natural environment is very much non-linear. In the realm of languages for instance, the sequence in which we tend to learn a new language is quite different from the curriculums imposed in schools. By setting strict boundaries on what can be learnt at a given time, like we often do with a linear approach, we may be significantly limiting developmental opportunities.

Secondly, linear learning can also have a passivating effect. As learners cannot make much choices or take control of their own outcomes, you’re likely to see lower engagement. As we know from educational research, active beats passive more often than not.

How could we use non-linear learning instead?

Transitioning away from the commonly used approach may be difficult. Not because of it’s harder to execute, but just for the sheer reason of having to overcome existing mental hurdles. Here are a few things you could try.

  1. Stop building courses. Instead, design inter-linkable yet independent resources
  2. Allow access to all levels of content regardless of current progress
  3. Allow learners to take control and influence what, how and when they learn
  4. Don’t assume a requirement to study a subject before starting to solve a problem
  5. Adopt a learner-centric approach to both delivery and design

Naturally, there is no one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to learning. Linear learning may well have its place in certain areas. For instance, some research seems to indicate that a linear approach would be better in training relatively unmotivated or less interested learners when dealing with complex subjects. However, we do believe that it pays to diversify and not stick to forced linearity just for the sake of comfortability. Rather, you’re much better off identifying the best approach based on the topic and resources at hand.

Could your organisation benefit from unconventional, modern and creative approaches to learning? If you answered yes, but feel like there are a lot of things you don’t fully understand, we’d be happy to help you. Just contact us.

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5 Tips for Better Learning Interactions

Learning Interactions Tips

5 Tips for Better Learning Interactions

To guarantee best results in learning, often an approach prompting learners to become active participants is the most successful one. For digital learning purposes, this means that we need to design interactive learning experiences. However, many organisations seemingly struggle with the concept of interactivity and its actual utility in a learning setting. Thus, here are five tips for designing better learning interactions.

1. Understand the different levels of learning interactions

As we’ve explained before, learning interactions come in mainly three different types. Most of the traditional eLearning tends to focus on learner-content interactivity. However, interactions between learners themselves and between learners and instructors are equally important. Unfortunately, these are often disregarded by corporate learning professionals, who pay too much focus on the information itself.

2. Understand different types of learning interactions

Naturally, there are a more tools of learning interactions than you could count. While you might not need all of them, it’s good to know enough of them to ensure your learning materials don’t turn out monotonous. For learner-content interactions you might use micro-quizzes, knowledge checks, interactive videos, simulations and many others. For learner-learner interactions, you may consider discussions, social media features, peer evaluation and collaborative learning activities. Finally, for learner-instructor interactions you should look into the ways learners can benefit from support, feedback or virtual facilitation.

3. Always use a mix of different learning interactions

Like with many other things, doing the same thing over and over again quickly becomes tedious and boring. The same applies to learning interactions as well. So even though you might have just developed an awesome interaction with your rapid eLearning tools, don’t get too satisfied. Rather, look into several different types of interactions working on preferably all the three different levels. Adequate variation helps to retain learners’ interest.

4. Make sure your learning interactions serve their actual purpose

A common mishap with instructional designers is to forget why we are building interactive learning in the first place. Rather than building learning interactions just for the sake of interactivity, we should pay more attention in how they help the learners to achieve their goals and assimilate information better. If using a simulation requires so much instruction that it takes away from the time spent on the actual content itself, the interaction doesn’t really serve a purpose. Likewise, if your game-based learning elements become too much about the game with vague correlation with learning, you might not be doing the right way. Thus, you should always evaluate your designs by asking “how and why does this interaction help the learner to achieve his goals?”

5. Overkill is never a good idea

In addition to the purposefulness, it’s good to understand that quality doesn’t defeat quality. Filling your content with learning interactions to the brim is not a good idea. Rather, you should use them to pace the learning at proper intervals. Often, low interactivity things like reading, glancing and viewing should still constitute the major part of the learning activity. Interactions should then be used to highlight the core focus areas and ensure the retention of them. Once more, less can be more.

Are you using learning interactions in a smart way? If you feel like you or your learning team could use help building a playbook for learning interactivity, we’d be happy to assist you. Just contact us.

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Supporting Bloom’s Taxonomy Learning Objectives with Digital Methods

Bloom's taxonomy digital learning methods cover

Supporting Bloom’s Taxonomy Learning Objectives with Digital Methods

For several decades, Bloom’s taxonomy has belonged to many L&D professionals toolbox. While the frameworks itself are somewhat dated, they still provide good tools for structuring learning objectives. In fact, along with Kirkpatrick’s model for training evaluation, the taxonomy is perhaps the second most prevalent industry staple. While in the future we are likely to move more into performance-based learning objectives, we still continue to educate people in knowledge heavy areas where immediate performance impact is not self-evident. Hence, it pays to evaluate how we can use Bloom’s framework today in the learning space where a digital forms a large part of the delivery. Therefore, we’ll look at Bloom’s taxonomy in more detail and how to support it with digital learning methods. 

The six levels of Bloom’s taxonomy progress as follows: 

  1. Knowledge
  2. Comprehension
  3. Application
  4. Analysis
  5. Synthesis
  6. Evaluation

Delivering “Knowledge” with Digital 

For a long time, digital (or eLearning for that matter) has been a common way of delivering knowledge. However, to fulfil the knowledge part of the learning objectives according to Bloom’s taxonomy, we have to pay attention to the delivery. Firstly, it’s highly important to understand what helps learners to remember and recall knowledge. Tools and methods like spaced learning and microlearning are modern ways of structuring digital content to aid in just that. 

Ensuring “Comprehension” with knowledge checks

When developing learning, we’d naturally like the learners to grasp the concepts beyond just the factual level. Hence, it’s important to build adequate comprehension elements into digital learning experiences. While an increasing part of the comprehension analytics can be accomplished with seamless learning tracking, on many occasions it’s good to build proper assessment. Generally, you should build assessment and knowledge checks that go beyond factual recollection. Furthermore, it’s beneficial to distribute the knowledge checks within the materials and space them over time. 

Supporting “Application” with digital 

Generally, the application part of the Bloom’s taxonomy and learning equation occurs in the workplace. However, that’s not to say we shouldn’t utilise the power of digital to facilitate that application to the best of our ability. Ideally, the scope of your learning analytics would cover the relevant behavioural and performance metrics to find out whether application is actually happening. In case your data capabilities are not yet at that level, you can (besides contacting us for help!) use different techniques to try to gauge the rate of application. For instance, digital surveys and 360 evaluations provide tools to assess behaviours on both individual and organisational level. However, keep in mind that self-reported data is often full of bias! 

Facilitating the “Analysis” of knowledge

A good part of learning deals with understanding what we already know and how that related to the grand scheme of things. Naturally, you can facilitate the analysis part with various types of self-paced assignments requiring critical thinking. In the age of digital, however, you could use the power of social media tools to facilitate social learning. Modern social learning tools provide a good way for learners to develop a deeper understanding of the concepts at hand and their relationship with current workplace practices and strategy. This enables learners not only to rely on their own conceptual understanding but to learn from others’ as well. 

Providing a platform to “Synthesise” information

Building on the analysis stage, the synthesis of knowledge is highly important to bring the learning back to the workplace. With highly abstract topics (e.g. leadership, soft skills etc.), collaborative learning activities can deliver high impact. As synthesis is a lot about creating new ways of working based on the newly learnt and existing knowledge, you’ll want to focus on that. At this stage, the confines of the learning system (e.g. LMS) become too narrow, and we need to find other pathways to success. Collaboration tools (e.g. Slack) provide a good platform to not only support learning, but also to produce and share work and practical applications of the newly learnt. If you’re not yet employing collaborative platforms, user-generated content can be a meaningful way to execute some of this as well. Learners can e.g. share their experiences of different applications and learn from others. 

Enabling reflective “Evaluation” via digital platforms

The highest level of Bloom’s taxonomy is evaluation. Evaluation generally involves presenting and defending opinions based on the developed conceptual knowledge and synthesis. Similar to “Synthesis”, collaborative and social learning tools provide great mediums for facilitating the evaluation level. Learners can share their own opinions, engage with others’ and hence refine their thinking. While there’s a lot of tools for this type of delivery, a proper mindset is equally important. As an organisation, you should encourage the sharing of opinions. To do this successfully, you naturally need to acknowledge that those opinions may be critical or not aligned with the current practice. However, you should not aim to silence all the critics as it is these types of discussions that spark internal innovation in organisations. 

Are you using Bloom’s taxonomy to structure your learning objectives? Would you like to find out more about different digital methods to support the learning process? If so, just contact us here – we’re happy to share! 

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