Wayne was looking to take his elearning design to the next level – instead of a series of PowerPoint-like slides that learners click through followed by a quiz at the end, he wanted something more engaging and effective. Part 1 of this case study includes the background and choices that were made. Part 2 of this case study features advice from elearning and instructional design professionals.
Part 1: The Case Study
Wayne had been working as the learning manager for a small firm specializing in online advertising and social media marketing for about four years. Prior to that, he led a team of online advertising and social media specialists for six years. He has deep knowledge of the industry and made it a point to continue to stay on top of industry trends.
Since its inception, the firm had emphasized a culture of learning that included in-person and online training. Coinciding with Wayne’s transition into the learning manager role, the firm made a major investment in online learning courses in order to better meet the on-demand training needs of staff. After implementing a new learning management system (LMS), which was initially populated with a series of off-the-shelf courses on sales, customer service and various recordings of webinars that had been delivered to clients, Wayne quickly added a series of documents and job aids that could be used by staff when they were in the home office as well as when they were in meetings with clients.
Seeking to take full advantage of the technology available, Wayne began using Camtasia to create 5-10 minute elearning segments focused on various product features and frequently asked questions. In general, these elearning components consisted of PowerPoint-like presentations that learners would click through in order to orient themselves to various product features. Wayne included voiceover to make the presentations more engaging and included a 10-question quiz at the end of each segment to ensure learners could correctly answer basic questions about the content. After churning out 25 of these segments, Wayne still felt something was missing from these online courses.
In this year’s training budget, Wayne included $50,000 in order to consult with an elearning company on how to better create efficient and effective elearning programs for staff. After several meetings with the elearning company, Wayne decided to use the money budgeted to invest in new elearning modules for additional topics.
Together with the elearning company, Wayne agreed that the money would best be allocated to create and develop 10 new modules over the next four months. These new 5-10 minute modules would include professional graphic design and more interactive components where content would be integrated into true/false, multiple choice and matching activities. Going forward, Wayne also agreed that future modules could benefit by including short video clips in addition to solely featuring text on the screen.
Wayne was impressed with the project management abilities of the elearning company. They were easy to work with, asked some questions that vastly improved the content and delivery, and completed all 10 modules within the originally estimated 4-month time period.
While post-module evaluation surveys included some grumbles from staff who just wanted to be able to read through the information and be done with the module, overall the feedback was very positive and enthusiastic. One social media specialist commented that the new modules were “light years better than the other PowerPoint-style modules.” When asked what could be improved, one online advertising specialist suggested “to make these modules accessible by smart phone as well.”
Part 2: What the Experts Say:
Definitely Mix It Up
“Including multimedia as part of elearning works to ensure students remain engaged in the process. Whether it is video or interactive games and presentations, adding even a small number of these activities helps vary the educational rhythm for the student. Integrating a story as a unifying thread is also an important part of ensuring students retain information.”
But what about more complex training needs?
“Wayne should address some of the more nuanced subjects such as sales techniques, dealing with difficult people, and complex budget management. Wayne can take advantage of his budget allocation to work with a professional elearning company in order to create scenario-based elearning, grounded in the real world. By putting a case study into a realistic context, Wayne can build courses that assess a learner’s ability to solve real-world problems—and isn’t that what it’s really all about? Check out Cathy Moore’s slideshare presentation if you’d like to learn more about how to build courses that include real-world context.”
Go Gamified and Make it Fun (because life is too short for boring eLearning!)
“Wayne’s next step should be to think more audaciously about how to get learners to absolutely LOVE their learning. He should be thinking about how he can get the learners to look forward to every new course he publishes in the same way they would the next big block buster film. That way he can get a better ROI for his company, at the same time build himself L&D rock star status! He needs to think more about how he will improve user engagement first, not what subjects he will teach or what tool he will use.
Research shows that learners involve themselves more with gamified learning and LMS features than other types of training. In fact they spend 50% longer on an LMS with gamification features, and in the world of eLearning, gamification increases participation, such that staff experiencing gamified training are 86% more active than non-gamified training.
The fact is that employees training on a gamified LMS, deploying game-based elearning acquire more factual knowledge, attain a higher skill level and retain information for longer.”