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meaningful content

The reality is that many e-learning courses are irrelevant to the needs of the person who has to take them. Lawsuits and regulatory compliance dictates a lot of demand for e-learning courses. It puts instructional design on the back-burner and end-of-year certification becomes the priority.

It’s just a reality of our industry.

Information vs Performance

I’ve always split courses into one of two groups: information or performance

  • Information: share information and certify a basic level of awareness/understanding
  • Performance: change behavior to meet a specific metric

By splitting into those groups, I know what resources to commit to the projects. Performance-based training takes more effort to build and I want to have the resources to build those courses. I don’t want to squander my limited resources on courses that just require a few slides and final quiz.

relevant meaningful e-learning

With that said, regardless of the content, courses should still be framed in a manner relevant to the person who has to take the course. It may be compliance-based content, but there’s a relevant context for compliance. And framing the content in that context helps ensure understanding and compliance (which is the objective).

Here are three ways to take generic compliance content and make it more meaningful to the end-user.

Get to the Know the Learners & Their Environment

Try to spend time with the learners. Become familiar with their routines and how they do what they do. Often, the procedures they perform in real life aren’t congruent with what the managers or subject matter experts expect. It’s good to know this before building a course that people ignore because it’s not the way they do things.

relevant activities for e-learning

Share with them the objectives of the course and some of the essential content. Ask how that plays out in their real, day-to-day activities. They’ll give you some good fodder for case studies and simple scenarios.

Be a Bridge Between the Content Owner and the Learner

The content owners and those who commission the course often have different objectives than the person who takes the course. This is especially true for compliance training that often seems pointless to the learner.

bridge between customer and learner

Part of your role is to blend the organization’s needs with the learner’s needs. Get the learner’s involved. It helps build awareness of the training that is being developed and they may offer valuable insight.

Content is Relevant in the Right Context

In live training sessions, you can generate meaningful conversation and engaging the attendees is easier. They share and comment. Online learning can be a challenge because a lot of compliance training is equal to a X minute lecture.

You may not engage in active conversations but there are things you can do:

Even if the course is a compliance course and may not be the most relevant, by getting the learners involved, the content can be placed in a relevant context that is engaging and keeps the people from tuning out or discounting what’s trying to be shared.

What are things you do to keep your elearning courses relevant?


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One response to “Three Ways to Make Your E-Learning Content Meaningful”

August 7th, 2018

Tom – great points as always! I have been working in healthcare related industries for over a decade, and this is a huge issue here as in many other industries. Learner buy-in, WIIFM, or whatever you want to call it is critical for those mandatory refreshers. If you enjoy a challenge in learning, creating and delivering the annual compliance training is an excellent opportunity.