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the e-learner


In every job that must be done…


E-learner Rachel Wright has moved on to pursue a freelance career. We wish her well and thank her for her contribution. Now it’s time to introduce her successor to the e-learner role, Megan McIlvenna.


Xxxxxxxx I


like washing up. No, seriously. I like the routine and rhythm of it. I like the predictability. Most of all, I like the sense of achievement when I’ve got a pile of shiny


clean plates and pans on the drying rack. And I bet there’s something that you like which is typically considered mind-numbingly dull. Do you get an indescribable satisfaction out of fi lling in forms? Can’t get enough of shining up your bathroom? Are you a garden-weeding afi cionado? The thing is, no matter how boring the task,


there’s always something that we can get out of it. Whether that’s the satisfaction of improving our own performance, the comfort of a familiar routine, or the pleasure of achieving something tangible, every mundane activity has the potential for providing some kind of gratifi cation. It’s the case for e-learning too. Sometimes training is needed on topics that are traditionally seen as dry – health and safety, regulatory compliance, rules and policy, technical processes – the list goes on. There’s no way around it, people need to learn this stuff. But like boring household chores, there’s always something about the learning process that users can enjoy. We just need to know


where to look for it. As learning designers, it’s our job to identify and make the most of those things that will make the training gratifying. But where do we start? From my experience in the world of e-learning, here are the top things I’ve learned so far…


 Make your training easy to understand: There’s nothing as off-putting as something that makes no sense. For learners, it’s like following instructions in a foreign language. But it’s a trap that’s all too easy to fall into when you’re reworking old content. Think about what your audience already knows and strip your language right back to basics. Keep it digestible too, by breaking large blocks of text up into smaller pieces.


 Spice things up: At the top end of the market, there’s full-on immersive and gamifi ed learning. At Mind Click we’re currently developing a solution that teaches fi re safety by getting users to complete a series of fun activities within a wider game. It’s amazing just how much you can do to make safety training fun. For times when your budget won’t stretch to this, there are still simple techniques that you can use to make things more interesting. Try experimenting with visual style, transforming dry lists into practical top tips or attractive infographics, and spicing up activities using scores and goals.


 Root everything in practicality: One of the major causes of boredom when it comes to e-learning is disengagement with the content. Practical advice linked to real world experiences generally beats abstract information hands down. Think about why your audience needs to know


Think about why your audience needs to know what you’re teaching and use that as the basis for all your explanations.


what you’re teaching and use that as the basis for all your explanations. Once people can see a point to what they’re learning, you’re already halfway there.


In the e-learning industry, our showpiece solutions are often based on content that lends itself well to creativity – soft skills, say, or induction training. These are the topics that form the basis for our immersive 3d environments and innovative technological developments. But surely it’s harder to take content that’s tedious in the fi rst place and create training that people enjoy? And if you manage to do this without bells and whistles on a small budget, it’s even more impressive. In my time in the industry, I’ve learned that it’s a mistake to write off ‘boring’ e-learning courses as inevitably dull. In fact, it’s sometimes those topics that present the biggest and most exciting challenge to the e-learning designer. As Mary Poppins once sang, “In every job that must be done there is an element of fun.” And on that note, I’m off to do the dishes.


Megan McIlvenna is an instructional designer at Mind Click


@the_e_learner


I’ve learned that it’s a mistake to write off ‘boring’ e-learning courses as inevitably dull. In fact, it’s sometimes those topics that present the biggest and most exciting challenge to the e-learning designer.


e.learning age april 2015 29


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