The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for March, 2011


The Rapid E-Learning Blog - forget the cowbell. Winners need more tiger blood.

I just got back from the Learning Solutions Conference in Orlando.  Like always, it was great getting to meet so many blog readers.  I truly appreciate the enthusiasm and kind feedback.

At the close of the conference, I participated in a panel presentation with some really smart people (not sure how I got invited).  If you’re not familiar with them I included links to their sites below.

We each had to present a “big idea.”  For my part, I decided to present on how to get better at building elearning courses.  It’s a subject asked about frequently through the blog.

For those who didn’t get to go to the conference, here’s my presentation on 5 Ways to Prepare & Be a Winner.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - elearning secrets to being a winner

Are you prepared for the opportunities?

Good fortune doesn’t just happen.  It’s usually the result of preparation and opportunity.  While there are always all sorts of opportunities available, the challenge we face is that we’re not always prepared for them.  Because of this, we are usually oblivious to the opportunities that exist.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - luck is when preparation and opportunity meet

For example, I don’t read Spanish.  So if there was a sign in front of me that read, “Bajo este signo es una olla de oro.”  I’d miss the opportunity to get my hands on some free gold.  Instead I’d walk right past it oblivious to what’s right there in front of me.

So instead of sitting around waiting for something to happen, the key is to prepare yourself for the opportunities that exist.  You won’t see them all, but you’ll see a lot more than if you just sat around doing nothing.

What opportunities exist for us?

I’ve been in the training industry for about twenty years.  Typically when times are tough, the folks in training are usually the first to be let go.  The main reason is that we still haven’t figured out how to determine our ROI; so many organizations aren’t always clear what value we bring.

While today’s economy is still tough, this is the first time I can remember where what’s hot in the outside world is also so closely tied to what the learning industry.  There’s an interesting convergence of social technology, mobility, and community.  It’s a perfect storm and it’s all so closely linked to learning and what we do.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - this is an exciting time for our industry

While there are still plenty of challenges for many of us, there really is a lot of opportunity.  For example, with rapid elearning technology you can hand off all of your work to the subject matter experts and spend your time surfing YouTube for Justin Bieber videos or playing Angry Bird on your sophisticated mlearning device.

All you have to do is confuse your employers with words like pedagogy and tell them to consider whether or not the process is legitimate peripheral participation.  Do enough to keep them off balance and you’ll preserve your job, appear smart, and be able to hum all of Justin’s dandy little ditties.

Steps to Becoming a Winner

Here are just a few ideas on how to be prepared based on my experience.

1. Practice your craft.

I’m a sports fan.  One thing common to all great athletes is the extra effort they put into their craft.  While their peers are at home resting, they’re working on technique, studying film, or running an extra mile.  It’s what separates great players from other players with comparable skill.  And the same can be said for other disciplines like music or art.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - practice your craft

To be good at something requires practice.  How many of us really practice our craft or do those things necessary to be better?  What if we approached learning to build courses the same way Peyton Manning approached being a quarterback?

You may be employed as an elearning developer and not desire much more than having a job.  That’s fine.  But if you really want to be a good elearning developer, you have to own your development, especially since it seems so many of us work alone.

2. Connect with others.

Software companies build software with features.  But it’s the people who use that software that come up with ways to use those features.  That’s one of the reasons why you want to connect with people in your software’s user community.  They offer practical tips and real world advice.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - connect with others

You can see evidence of this in these two posts that covered over 100 PowerPoint tutorials and more than 200 rapid elearning tutorials.  Many were created by community members and blog readers.

Another reason to connect to others is they’ll help make you better.  One of my favorite examples is when Joe Deegan asked for some ideas on creative ideas for creating a course on bed bugs.  He got lots of ideas with over 52 comments in his forum thread.  That team of one, became a virtual army of brainstormers.

In addition, using tools like Twitter lets you connect with all sorts of experts.  In fact, Jane Bozarth shared a great example in her part of the panel presentation of how she saved time doing some research by posting a question in Twitter.  What would have taken her hours was accomplished in no time at all.

If you want to learn and improve your craft, it’s important to connect with others.

3. Think like an entrepreneur.

One of my favorite books is How to Be a Star at Work.  It’s a great book that addresses a lot of what it takes to be successful.  The author makes a lot of good points.  After reading it a few years back, I was reminded to have more initiative and develop an entrepreneurial spirit.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - think like an entrepreneur

Businesses that sit around for work to come to them don’t last long.  But those that understand their customers and then strive to meet their needs prove to be successful.

Tomorrow, start your day, not as an employee.  Instead see yourself as a vendor who sells elearning services.  And then develop a business strategy to be successful.  Who are your customers? What do they need?  How can you help them?

Don’t sit around like a lot of training people do waiting for projects to arrive.  Instead, find out where the business is going and then find ways to support them getting there.

4. Maintain a portfolio.

I get a lot of requests from elearning developers looking to be connected.  So I ask if they have a portfolio.  The answer is usually, “No” or “I can’t show you because it’s proprietary.”  Without a portfolio, how can you document your skills?

Here are two quick reasons why you need to a portfolio:

You need a sandbox to play around with ideas.  Your organization may want you to crank out click-and-read courses like there’s no tomorrow.  That’s your job and they sign the check.  So you have to do what they want.

But you shouldn’t let them determine how you develop your skills.  If you don’t get to build the types of courses you want at work, then build them on your own.  They don’t need to be full-fledged courses.  At a minimum build mini courses or examples to practice and show off your skills.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - maintain a portfolio

If you lose your job, will you lose your portfolio?  I see this all the time.  You come to work and are notified that you’re no longer needed.  The company hands you a cardboard box filled with your belongings and that certificate of appreciation they gave you last quarter.  Then they have security escort you out of the building.

When you get home you realize that not only do you no longer have access to the elearning software to create courses, you also don’t have access to any of the courses you built to show off your skills.  All of a sudden, looking for a new job becomes a little bit more challenging (especially if you ignored point #2).

Take control of your career.  Enjoy the company you work for but understand it’s a business and sometimes we’re on the short end of things.  It’s nothing personal.  So be prepared.

5. Be proactive and look for opportunities.

A few years back I was managing media production for the education department of a healthcare organization.  One day I was putting some PowerPoint slides on 35 mm film so I had some time to kill during production.  I started reading an article in about Etienne Wenger and his book on Communities of Practice.  I decided that’s what I wanted to do and set my career on a path to get to where I’m at today.

I looked over job descriptions for the type of work I wanted to do and then made an effort to get the experience I needed to get the types of jobs I wanted.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - be proactive and look for opportunities

If I can do it, so can you.  Like I said earlier, there are all sorts of opportunities.  In fact, considering the state of our economy, the elearning industry is super hot.  Every freelancer I know is swamped with work.  Don’t sit around and let things happen to you.  Determine what you want to do and then look for the opportunities to do them.

There are a lot more things you can do to be an elearning winner.  What advice do you have?  Feel free to share your tips in the comments section.

Learn more about the other panel members:

The links to Amazon books may produce a slight commission.

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • October 6: Amsterdam. 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges by David Anderson. Register here.
  • October 21: Sydney. 3-Hour Articulate Virtual Event: 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges, Creating Engaging Software Training in Rise 360, and more. Register here.
  • October 29: ATD Nashville. Here's Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio.

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 




The Rapid E-Learning Blog

If you add characters to your elearning courses, odds are that you’re also adding some speech bubbles. PowerPoint comes with the ability to create your own text callouts, but I find that I like to use ones that look more organic than the PowerPoint shapes. I try to create my own.

I created some speech bubbles for a recent project so I’m making them available for you to use as you wish. I also added a few bonus tips below.

On a side note, you’ll notice that the download links go to the new community site’s download section. I now have a place to put all of the blog downloads so it’ll be easier for you to find resources that I’ve shared in the past.  Not only can you find all of the resources from previous blog posts, but you can also get a bunch of other free assets to help with your elearning design.

Rounded Speech Bubbles

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - free speech bubbles

Download rounded speech bubbles here.

 

Squared Speech Bubbles

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - free speech squared speech bubbles

Download squared speech bubbles here.

 

Thought Clouds without Tails

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - free thought clouds

Download thought clouds here.

 

Thought Clouds with Tails

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - free thought clouds with tails

Download thought clouds with tails here.

 

Bonus Tips

  • Organic fonts look great in speech bubbles. You can probably find some free ones at sites like dafont.com. I gave some away in a previous blog post on adding personality to your elearning courses. You can download those (and more) from the new community, as well.
  • Use Microsoft’s clip organizer to manage all of the free assets. In a previous post I showed how to import your own images into the clip organizer. That will make it easier to find and insert the free speech bubbles.
  • Don’t use speech bubbles. Sometimes the screen can get a little crowded and using speech bubbles doesn’t help make it less crowded.  If you want to free up some white space, use simple lines that connect the character to the text. That’s what I did in this demo.
  • Take full advantage of the new community. I uploaded the text bubbles into our new elearning community. You’ll find all sorts of other free assets like templates and graphics. You’ll also find some additional callouts. There’s even a practice course with all of the files available for you to use.

Hope you can use the speech bubbles (and the other free stuff) for some elearning projects.  If there’s something you’d like to see in the downloads, let me know.

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • October 6: Amsterdam. 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges by David Anderson. Register here.
  • October 21: Sydney. 3-Hour Articulate Virtual Event: 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges, Creating Engaging Software Training in Rise 360, and more. Register here.
  • October 29: ATD Nashville. Here's Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio.

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 




The Rapid E-Learning Blog - meaningful elearning

When I meet people who aren’t in the elearning industry I usually ask them if they have to take elearning courses at work; and if so, what they think about them.  For today’s post, I’d like to address some of the more common issues I hear from those who have to take elearning courses and offer a few ideas on how to deal with them.

Is this course important?

To quote James Stockdale, “Who am I? Why am I taking this course?”

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - James Stockdale

Our industry talks a lot about creating engaging courses; and then we’ll offer up tips on building interactive scenarios and all of that.  That’s fine and dandy, but the best place to start when you want to create an engaging course is to make sure it’s relevant to the person taking it.

If a course is relevant to the learner, you’re more apt to tap into their own motivations for learning.  If it’s not relevant, it becomes a lot harder to keep their attention and make the learning stick.

The solution? Create courses that are learner-centric.  Focus less on dumping information on the learner and more on what information they need to do what it is they’re supposed to do.  Then help them figure out how to use the information.

What’s this course all about?

You’re asking people to invest some of their valuable time in the elearning course.  So they need a clear understanding of what the course is about, what they’re supposed to learn, and any expectations of them after the course.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - mountain top guru

Conveying clear course objectives is critical and a good starting point.  With that said, it doesn’t mean you have to create a bullet list of objectives.  There are other ways to state the objectives of the course.

For example, you could challenge them to solve a problem prior to starting the course.  Not being able to solve it exposes their need to know more.  This then becomes the basis of explaining what the course is about and what they should learn from it.

You can frame the course from the perspective of what the world would be like without your valuable information.  Create an opening scene that demonstrates something negative that happens as a result of a lack of understanding—perhaps a workplace injury occurred…or a sale was lost.  It could be anything.  The main point is that there are more creative ways to state the course’s objectives without the standard objectives screen.

What’s my motivation?

A big concern when building elearning courses is that people just click through the course and don’t look at all of the screens.  So our solution tends to be that we lock the screen navigation.  This forces the person to see all of the valuable information and of course that causes them to learn everything they need to know.

Wrong.  When you think about it, the reason they’re just clicking through the course is probably because the course really means nothing to them.  So that takes us back to the first point: make sure the course is relevant.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - floating carrots

Something else to consider.  If the course included a free iPad upon 100% completion, my guess is that they’d have no problem being focused and meeting the course objectives.  That’s because there’s motivation to complete the course.

You can’t give an iPad to all of your learners (especially not an iPad 2), but you can identify what motivates them and then build courses that address those issues.  A motivate learner is one who will learn.

What’s motivating your learners?  Why would they want to take the course?  What do they get out of it?  Are you helping them do something better?

How do I know I’m done?

I recall a few years back I was showing a manager this really cool interactive scenario.  I was excited because it was one of the nicest elearning interactions we’d developed.  His response was, “We hate scenarios.”  The reason was because they just wanted to quickly get to the end of the course and get back to work.  This probably speaks to the first point again and ensuring that the course is relevant.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - are your learners lost?

Another complaint about the scenarios was that it took a lot longer to get the essential information and the scenarios made them unsure of their progress.  They felt like they were stuck in a labyrinth being taunted by David Bowie.

The solution for this is easy.  Let the learners know upfront what is expected and how long it will take to complete the course.  In addition, offer some sort of indication during the course of where they’re at.  I’ll also include that if you add interactive scenarios, they need to be meaningful and not waste their time.

What now?

What do you want the people to do when they’re done with the elearning course?  A common complaint is that people are forced to take elearning courses with no expectation for them to do something with what they just learned.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - now what

This is especially true when you get the November email telling you that there are twenty courses you need to take before the year’s end.  You take the courses and no one really cares what happens afterwards.

The other side of it is that you take a great course, learn some good stuff, but then don’t have a place to practice using it.  I’ve seen this quite a bit in places that roll out soft skills or management 101 type training.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Indicate a way for the learner to continue learning.  Direct them to additional resources or a shared practice community where they can build on what the elearning course taught.
  • Connect the managers to the course expectations.  It always confused me why the training group was more involved in employee development than the managers were.  We used to send the managers an update of who took a course and then provided some additional coaching tips so that their staff could continue to be developed.
  • Provide some handy cheat sheets or job aids they can use when they get back to the job.  Or ask them to design some to share with others.  This is a great way to assess their level of understanding.

There are a lot more things you can do that connects the course to the learner’s real world.  If you have some additional tips, feel free to
share them in the comments section.

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • October 6: Amsterdam. 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges by David Anderson. Register here.
  • October 21: Sydney. 3-Hour Articulate Virtual Event: 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges, Creating Engaging Software Training in Rise 360, and more. Register here.
  • October 29: ATD Nashville. Here's Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio.

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 




The Rapid E-Learning Blog - how to save time using graphics in PowerPoint

PowerPoint’s Clip Organizer is one of those features in PowerPoint that’s been there for years and gets very little use.  However, it’s also one of the most powerful time-saving features in PowerPoint, especially if you work with a lot of custom graphics.

In today’s post, we’ll explore how to use the clip organizer.  This comes in handy if you download and customize lots of clip art.  Or if you take advantage of all of the free downloads available from the blog and community.

What is the Clip Organizer?

The clip organizer is one of those funny applications where the name pretty much tells you what it does.  It organizes clips.  Clips in this case can be vector illustrations (clip art), photos, videos, and audio files.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - organize media clips in PowerPoint

You load your media assets into the clip organizer so that it’s easy to search for them when working on your elearning courses.  The clip organizer lets you modify keywords so that it’s really easy to find what you’re looking for.  Once you start using it, you’ll find that it saves a lot of time looking for the images in folders on your computer.

Prior to PowerPoint 2010, the clip organizer was located via link at the bottom of the insert clip art panel.  In PowerPoint 2010, it’s not there.  Instead, you have to click on the Windows Start icon, go to All Programs, and then locate the Microsoft Office folder.  Inside the folder, you’ll find and Microsoft Office Tools folder with the clip organizer inside.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - how to locate the clip organizer in PowerPoint 2010

Here’s a quick tour of how to locate the clip organizer in various versions of PowerPoint.

Create Custom Clip Art & Add to the Clip Organizer

Find clip art characters you like.  Make modifications to them and then save as complete character sets.  I show you how to do this in the blog post on creating custom characters.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - example of custom clip art

Over time you could end up with a big library of custom characters.  And the more images you have the more valuable the clip organizer becomes.  Here’s a quick tutorial that shows how that could work.

Click here to view the tutorial.

Manage All of the Free Stuff You Get From the Blog & Community

Over the past few years, I’ve given away a lot of free assets.  It’s easy to lose track of all of them.  You could always go to the community, do a search, and then download the files all over again. 

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - examples of free graphics from the rapid elearning blog

Or you can download the files and then load them into the clip organizer.  This way, anytime you want a graphic, all you have to do is search for it and then insert it onto the slide.  Easy as that!

Here’s a tutorial that shows how to load the free blog and community assets into the clip organizer.

Click here to view the tutorial.

Make Searching Easier with PowerPoint’s Clip Organizer

The more stuff you add to the clip organizer, the more important it is to make the search process easier.  By default, when you load an image into the clip organizer it will create keywords based on the image title and the folders it’s in.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - screenshot of PowerPoint's clip organizer

This is pretty cool, because if you keep your images inside project folders, the name of the project folder gets pulled into the keyword.  This is really handy because it’s a fast way to search for and reuse graphics from previous projects right inside of PowerPoint.

Here’s a quick tutorial that shows how easy it is to organize by keyword.  You can edit individual files or do batch edits all at once.

Click here to view the tutorial.

Tips:

  • Keep images grouped by project and just insert the project folders into the organizer.  Any time you need an image from a previous project, just do a single search for the project name.  It’s easy enough to scroll through the thumbnails.
  • Do batch keywording to save time rather than trying to keyword one image at a time.
  • Develop a consistent naming stru
    cture for folders with graphics.  This way when you import the images, the keywords will be set.  That means a lot less time managing that part of the process.
  • Test to see if it works on your network drive.  If it does, then you’ll be able to easily share your graphics with each other on the team.

Using the clip organizer requires a few extra steps so most people don’t use it.  But the reality is that if you build a lot of elearning courses then the clip organizer is your friend and a big time saver.

Develop the discipline of using the clip organizer and soon you’ll find it to be a time-saving feature.  If you currently use the clip organizer, what are some additional tips for the community?  Share them by clicking on the comments link.

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • October 6: Amsterdam. 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges by David Anderson. Register here.
  • October 21: Sydney. 3-Hour Articulate Virtual Event: 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges, Creating Engaging Software Training in Rise 360, and more. Register here.
  • October 29: ATD Nashville. Here's Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio.

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 




The Rapid E-Learning Blog - elearning success depends on what you do before and after

Many of us take a Field of Dreams approach to elearning.  If we build it, they will learn.  But the reality is that elearning is just an event in the timeline of learning and not the entire learning process.  And in some ways, the elearning course is an intrusion on the person’s natural learning process.  Because of this, we want to make sure that the investment we make in elearning produces the results we desire.

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - elearning courses intrude on the natural learning process

Sure enough, the elearning course is important because it can compress time and save resources.  But the reality is that most of a person’s learning happens in the time before and after the elearning course.  We looked at this briefly in a previous post, Ignore This Post If You Don’t Care About Effective Learning.

In today’s post I want to look at some things to consider before and after you build your elearning course.  We’ll look at three core parts of the process.

  • Motivated to Learn: How do you get people interested in what you have to offer?
  • The E-Learning Course: Design the right instruction, visuals, and interactivity.
  • Support Ongoing Learning: What happens the morning after?

1. Motivated to Learn

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - is there a reason why I should take this course

The elearning course is going to stick if the learners are motivated to learn.  If they’re not, then odds are that while they complete the course, they’ll walk away from it without having learned much.  There’s a lot that can be written about what motivates learners—definitely a lot more than I can cover in a simple blog post.  But for today, we’ll touch on a few ideas to help you get started.

  • Is this course relevant to the learners?  If you’ve read this blog for a while, then you’ll know that this is a common question.  Relevance is the key to effective and engaging elearning.  You can forego some of the bells and whistles (and even interactivity) if the content of the course is relevant to the learners. Think about the last time you needed to learn something and did a search online.  Some sites probably just had text and images, and some may have offered more interactive media.  In either case, the main point of engagement was relevance.  Was the site providing what you needed to learn?  You probably didn’t stick around long if the site didn’t offer what you needed.
  • Is this course practical? I’ve worked on courses where the client had grand notions of what should be taught, but was completely disconnected from the learner’s real world and how they used the information.  In fact, I once built a course (brilliantly designed by the way) that ended up requiring the learners to spend hours in pre-work.  They all complained about how long it took and how pointless the activities were (my fault). A brilliant course is only brilliant if it works.  Learn about your learners and build courses that make sense to them and their world. 
  • How long is this going to take? I get lots of links to YouTube videos and other sites.  The first thing I do is look at how long it is.  If it’s less than two minutes, I’ll probably click on the link.  Any longer than that and I’ve already decided it’s a waste of time.  Guess what?  Your learners probably do the same thing.  They’re mentally doing a cost-benefit analysis.  They want to know what type of commitment they have to make prior to taking the course.  And they also want to understand what value they get.  Can you provide that to them before they click next?

2. The E-Learning Course

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - am I designing the right look and feel for the elearning course

Elearning course design has three core parts.  You design the content, the look and feel, and the interactivity.

  • What content needs to be in the course?  There’s always more than enough content for most elearning courses.  The challenge is usually figuring out what to get rid of more so than what to put it.  I like Cathy Moore’s action mapping process.  She does a great job helping you figure out how to make relevant courses without too much extra information.  You can also manage the content better if you find ways to get the learners to pull what they need
  • What should the course look like?  The visual design of your course is multifaceted.  You want a course that looks good.  But you need more than a great looking course.  It also needs to visually communicate the context of your content.  Focus on solid instructional design, but don’t neglect the aesthetic of the course.  And remember, visual communication is an important part of instructional design when you work with a visual medium.
  • What is the learner supposed to do with the content?  You go through this process of building an elearning course and the ultimate question for the learner is, “So what?”  How can you design the course so the learner has to use the content?  You want them to interact with the course.  In an ideal world, they get information, reflect on it, and practice using it all inside the course.  This allows them to collect feedback and make the adjustments critical to the learning process.

3. Support Ongoing Learning

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - make sure to provide ongoing performance support if you want the course to succeed

One of the biggest downfalls to elearning is the lack of support after the fact.  I saw a study once that showed about 90% of the course budget was committed to the design and implementation of the course.  Little was left over for post elearning support.

If you want the course to be successful, you need to consider what happens once the course is completed.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Get the managers involved.  They should do more than just forward a link to complete a course prior to December 31.  Use the course as an opportunity for managers to coach their employees.  For example, if someone takes a course on leading effective meetings, that’s probably a good time for the manager to assign some meetings to that person to see how well they do.  She can then assess their understanding and provide ongoing feedback in a meaningful context.
  • Leverage your organization’s social media technology. We don’t just learn t
    hrough official channels.  We learn from peers, managers, and customers.  The problem is that many times this learning is lost to the organization.  However, if you can create a shared practice community (or find other ways for people to regularly connect and share what they know) there’s a good chance that the learning continues and remains for others to benefit.
  • Provide quick bursts of refresher training.  People will remember more if you space out some of the learning.  You can provide little follow-up sessions to the course where they get refresher content.  I once designed a course for project managers.  After the elearning course, we sent out a series of planned emails.  They included some quick scenarios which they had to solve and then discuss with their managers.  This helped them retain the information and it also gave them an opportunity to dialogue with their managers.
  • Don’t lock the course behind the LMS.  Elearning’s not cheap.  The courses created are great resources but often are locked into the learning management system.  Many times, you only get one shot at the course.  Once you pass, it’s no longer available.  If your system doesn’t provide access to the course after completing it, perhaps it makes sense to also make the course available somewhere else, like in a resource library.

Learning is a complex process.  An elearning course is an important part or the process, but it isn’t the entire process.  The secret to elearning success is to know how to tap into the learner’s need for the course content, to build the right type of course, and then to ensure that you have ongoing performance support.

What do you see as some of the challenges in these three steps?  Share your thoughts here.

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • October 6: Amsterdam. 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges by David Anderson. Register here.
  • October 21: Sydney. 3-Hour Articulate Virtual Event: 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges, Creating Engaging Software Training in Rise 360, and more. Register here.
  • October 29: ATD Nashville. Here's Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio.

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.