Friday, November 13, 2009

DevLearn 2009: Yawn-Proof Your e-Learning without Busting the Bank

Stephen Walsh and Cammy Bean from Kineo put together an interesting session on how you can create engaging elearning without really burning a hole in your pocket. Cammy and Stephen are friends and I really enjoyed their session. They put together some great examples of elearning that were, let's just say quite stunning! There were some great takeaways for attendees and I've summarised that in this blog.

Key Takeaways

  • Things that bore people:
    • Navigation;
    • Text Heavy;
    • Endless videos;
    • Talking heads
    • Cookie cutter approach to design;
    • Locked navigation; violating basic rights of freedom;
    • Systems simulation;
    • Patronising or elementary content;
    • Monotony and Redundancy;
  • How to design rapidly:
    • Show, don't tell: Get a prototype out as soon as possible; "Get it wrong first time, and iterate from there."
    • Get in front of users as soon as you can;
    • Keep a playlist of ten tracks of design.
  • Stephen introduced to the audience his Ten tracks of design:
    1. Hit me with your best shot: Use stories that show what can go wrong. Find the killer fact, stat or quote. Learn from your marketing team.
    2. Give me a Reason: Object to learning objectives. Instead of a dozen boring learning objectives, try a lead-in video and show what normally happens and then point out how this will solve a problem that your learners will face.
    3. Getting the best stories: Get war stories from your best people and get true stories from your newer people. Don't just go to your senior people -- ask people in the trenches, so that way people who go into this training will actually relate to the real situations. Audio interviews over Skype were a great idea Stephen put forward.
    4. Tear down the wallpaper: Use purposeful graphics. Make them earn their place. "Decoration isn't design."
    5. This is assessment in the real world: Make it tough as hell. Make it open any time. Do it, prove it, move on.
    6. Make more mistakes: Find the mistakes that hurt the most. Simulate them in elearning. Keep them real, play them out. When you're providing feedback provide more than just incorrect/ correct observations, add context about why a choice is appropriate or not.
    7. A little less conversation, a little more action: Simplicity is tough, cut your training to the bone. Watch out for dialogue amongst characters. Keep text to a minimum and tone it down to the absolute key message!
    8. What more can I do?: Think outside the course -- create a learning campaign. Reach out with online support - don't do everything through elearning! Don't get caught up in the technology, think about the problem and the solution. What's are the different ways to spread the word, the simplest way to get learning out, and the most effective way to get them engaged.
    9. Keeping it real: Make the most of media and use audio and video where it counts! Use real people and film them (think of doing it secretly, so people aren't conscious!). When people's identities are at risk use a witness protection style by blurring people's faces out. Video is proven to be the most effective medium for behavioural skills.
    10. Now what?: The end is the beginning. Call to action and then don't let go! Build in ways to sustain performance and link into your LMS and Knowledge Management System to access follow up activities and resources. Leverage communities of interest and people's desire to be altruistic.

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