World Cup Fever: eLearning Goals and Evaluation Methods

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Sometimes it can feel like eLearning is an enigma: Because you can’t always be over a learner’s shoulder when he grasps a new concept or brushes up on technique, it’s hard to know just how successful your module is. That’s why clear objectives and evaluation methods are such a vital part of the mapping and design process. Without set goals, it’s almost impossible to correctly predict and evaluate eLearning ROI over time.

Creating eLearning Objectives to Score

Before you ever start evaluating your learners’ progress, you’ll first need to determine exactly what you want out of your eLearning module. It boils down to three basics: What, who and why?

First, what is it that you want your learners to walk away from their experience knowing? Who are your target students? Why is it important that they grasp new information? By answering these three questions during the planning stages, you should be able to define key goals that will better allow you to evaluate the effectiveness of the module.

Who’s Mr. Clutch: Information Vs. Performance

When creating objectives, keep in mind that all eLearning is either information or performance-based, and both have different outcomes. Information-based eLearning involves the familiarization of new topics or certification in continuing education and doesn’t necessarily require action, but demonstration of understanding. Performance-based goals require a change in learner behavior following the course. Obviously your goals and evaluation tools will vary based on the type of eLearning you expect from your learners.

The Final Cut: Evaluation and Reviews

If your material is information-based, your evaluation tools should allow learners to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding, such as an end-of-chapter review or a quick pop quiz for immediate feedback. If the material is performance-based, determining your ROI can be trickier. Demonstration in a role-playing or simulation setting might be the best way to decide whether or not your learners have adapted to and can perform based on what they’ve learned.

Only Way is Up: 3 Ways Designers (and SMEs) are Elevating eLearning

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It could be said that eLearning is a lot like pizza: When it’s good, it’s great. And, when compared to other training methods, when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. Still, relying on the same modules again and again isn’t going to do much to inspire your learners, which is why it’s important to constantly take note of trends and innovation. By adding elements that elevate your eLearning and content, you turn a “good” module into something truly amazing.

Improving Mobile Functionality to Reach Learners

Chances are that your learners always have their mobile phones in their pockets, making them the ideal tool for constant and consistent learning. Consider this: Before entering a safety zone, a sign is posted with a QR code. Your learner uses his smartphone to scan the code and gets quick safety tip reminders before entering the zone, helping to trigger his memory and follow procedure. By adding more mobile functionality to your module, you have a way to reach learners even when they’re far from the classroom.

Getting Rid of Linear Navigation

Forcing all of your learners through the same experience doesn’t make sense: Slower users could get lost in the shuffle and advanced learners get bored and lose interest. Your best bet for better eLearning? Unlock all of your content and stop forcing linear navigation. Encourage users to learn at their own pace, explore and go back to chapters if necessary for a personalized, elevated experience.

Reducing the Content

This might sound counterintuitive: Reduce the content to improve eLearning? But what may seem like a step backward can actually elevate eLearning to something memorable and clear. Let’s face it: SME’s are packed with knowledge, but not all of that needs to be stuffed into the content. Instead, picking out three to five “need to know” pieces of information for each page or chapter makes the information more impactful and easier to understand, especially without “nice to know” information clouding the meaning.

4 Barriers to eLearning – and How to Break Them Down

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One of the major benefits of eLearning is the idea of autonomy: Learners don’t have to be in a classroom, and instructors can act more as facilitators. The trouble is once learners leave the classroom, barriers can derail progress. By prepping for possible barriers, you can put preemptive solutions in place that encourage independent learning.

Lack of Management Skills

A survey completed by research firm Towards Maturity found that a lack of user management skills and lack of knowledge surrounding eLearning were cited as barriers by 63 percent and 62 percent of managers, respectively. Even if you understand the purpose and mechanics of the module, you can’t expect the same from your learners.

Solution: Intro your material better and take the time to walk learners through different chapters, lessons and actions before setting them loose.

How Accessible is eLearning?

While your learners might have state-of-the-art technology at work, their home setup might not be so advanced. Add that to slow Internet and a lack of tools, and you have an accessibility issue. Without the proper tools and material, eLearners might not take the initiative to learn on their own time.

Solution: Add mobile applications to your module. They’re easier to access away from the computer and won’t take up as much bandwidth for slow or a lack of connections.

Relevance is Key!

When learners don’t feel like the material is relevant to them, they aren’t going to take the time to independently complete a module. Learners don’t want to waste time going over material they already know, so a lack of relevance and personalized controls can become a major barrier.

Solution: Build options into your module that allow learners to test out of chapters or skip ahead and they’ll be more likely to stick with it.

Lack of Goals

“What’s in it for me?” That might as well be the slogan for eLearners everywhere. Without clear goals and incentives, there’s little reason for completion. Learners lose interest and don’t take the time to finish without constant prodding.

Solution: Set up goals and incentives from the start, whether it’s earning badges or completing the module before a specific date to help learners understand expectations and want to finish.

 

Level Up: 3 Ways Game Mechanics Can Enhance User Motivation

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You’d think that learners would need little incentive to embrace gamification: When compared to other methods, it’s usually more engaging. But, like all training methods, your method is only as effective as your user motivation. Gamifying your course material is one thing, but finding ways to entice your users to actually play is another. Using game mechanics created during development, you can tap into what really motivates your learners for a more effective experience.

Leaderboards and Community

Learners – and humans in general – love to know where they stand when compared to their peers, and that’s even truer when at work. Adding the ability to interact with other users and check scores on a program-wide leaderboard lets learners know where they fall in the pecking order. That way, they can work to improve, or keep playing to maintain a high score. Just remember to allow the leaderboard to reset regularly, or risk losing the interest of those at the bottom.

Badges & Achievements in the Game

Hey, learners love “stuff,” even if it’s completely digital. Badges and achievements built into the game make learners feel as though they’re earning something, and offers a tangible way to show off their progress. Shareable badges give learners a chance to receive recognition and a share that recognition with others via social media channels. Of course, building in the ability to save up badges for actual prizes (gift cards, etc.) doesn’t hurt either.

Leveling Up and Progression

Finally, your learners need the ability to “level up” or otherwise prove that they’ve completed the course material and demonstrated proficiency in the topic. A quiz at the end of a level or a visual reminder of how much of the course has been completed can help keep learners on track to finish and demonstrate material absorption, increasing both completion and retention rates.

Game Over: 3 Common Mistakes in Gamification

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Game on! Avoid these common gamification mistakes to keep your learners or employees in the game.

It sounds like a no-brainer: Getting learners excited about training and development by throwing in a game-based element. But just because you offer something other than Powerpoint doesn’t automatically mean gamification will be a success. Just like any other training method, learners can lose motivation and you could end up shelving your efforts. Want to avoid a total game over scenario? Nix these three common mistakes out of your design.

Long-Term Competition

When it comes to gamification, you want to drum up a lot of interest from your learners, so you might plan an organization-wide competition. The problem? If you create a competition that is too large in scope, you’re bound to motivate those at the top of the leaderboard, but you’ll probably lose those who are consistently on the bottom, without any chances to move up. Instead, plan on short-term competitions in a variety of applications, and create a leaderboard that resets after a week or so to give everyone a fair chance.

Unclear Goals and Rewards

Hey, planning game-based training is awesome – unless, of course, your learners don’t really understand the purpose. Without clear game goals, like target scores and outcomes, learners could lose interest. And, without clear rewards, such as badges and prizes, learners could lose motivation. Both goals and rewards should be an integral part of the planning and development stage of the game.  

Missing the Point of Gamification

There is such a thing as “trying too hard” when it comes to gamification, especially if you’re so focused on the aspect of fun that you miss the point of training. The truth of the matter is that you could create the world’s most exciting game, but if learners perceive that it has little to do with their training, they might ditch it for something more conventional. Respect your learners’ time and remember that while edutainment is important, subject matter should still be on point.

Gamification on a Shoestring Budget

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Save your coins for something else. Learn how to gamify your training on a budget!

Picture it: You’ve just been tasked with gamifying a mandated sensitivity training. Your mind drifts back to that hilarious scene from NCIS during a sexual harassment training where Tony asks the instructor if you must ask permission before head slapping a co-worker.

You understand immediately why sensitivity training has moved from the classroom to the computer, and you realize the importance of gamifying this subject. How can you possibly do this on budget, especially since your team doesn’t know the first things about gamification and your organization does not have an in-house programmer? Regardless, it’s game on!

Have a Laser Focus

You need to keep your audience awake to learn what they can and cannot do. Breaking sexual harassment laws puts an organization on collision with litigation, so it’s essential that your training engages enough to educate. On a shoestring, your team can set up trivia questions to break up the mind-numbing module, along with a simple, final self-test game that loops back to the pertinent information when the student misses an answer and repeats the question later. “Gamify” sparingly and when the learners least expect it.

Leverage Your Authoring Tool

You don’t need a programmer to gamify your content. Authoring tools such as Articulate include gamification tools developed for the instructional designer. Remember, gamification simply adds game-like elements, not a real game, to the eLearning module.

Know when to Hire a Consultant

Effective managers can take a lesson from Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek. Outsource bits and pieces of what you can’t do. That’s a very smart use of consulting services, and it allows you to complete assignments that are beyond your team’s current skill level. Task the consultant with creating a template for future gamification, and the consult becomes an investment. Game over…you won.

Why Companies Use Gamification for Employee Development

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Google uses gamification in the hiring process. How does your company gamify?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking gamification is a grassroots movement for small businesses: Huge corporations are utilizing the motivating power of gaming to help improve the hiring process, check employee performance and even identify potential leaders within the organization. As corporate gamification becomes a more viable (and successful) method of training, new methods and companies are coming out of the woodworks with new, smart solutions. Check out some of the biggest organizations utilizing gamification.

Spotify Listens to its Employees

The Internet music giant has made a name for itself in online innovation, so it makes sense that it would be among the first to harness the potential of gamification. After regular performance reviews were met with less-than-enthused results, Spotify turned to Rypple, a platform by which employees and supervisors could interact in a social media-like atmosphere. Colleagues can leave real-time feedback, offer congrats and award badges for a job well done.

How NTT Data Builds Leaders

One of the leading tech firms, NTT Data was preoccupied with leadership succession, so using gamification was a natural fit. Using a custom online gaming platform, NTT employees could role play a number of leadership scenarios and test their solutions. Not only could they earn points and rewards for their smart ideas, but it gave visibility to future potential leaders and promotion opportunities for those who excelled in the virtual world.

Google Uses Gamification to Test Future Hires

Google has always employed a number of innovative hiring strategies, but their latest – Google Code Jam – is a way to inspire innovation and pick from among the best of the best when it comes to future employees. Held annually, Code Jammers are given a problem from Google and are asked for a solution. Winners can score big bucks and the chance to work at the Google campus and socialize with other coders. Hey, it’s way better than wading through stacks of resumes, right?

The Fortune 100: Why and How They’re Using eLearning

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Fortune 100 companies use eLearning for training and development. Is yours?

There’s a reason the Fortune 100 make the cut as the professional elite in America: They know how to apply their resources. This is especially true when it comes to company training through eLearning. By recognizing the value of eLearning, multimedia training and even gamification, Fortune 100 companies get a leg up on the competition to keep their spots among the top organizations in the country.

Why eLearning? Accessibility!

In an address for the Oklahoma Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD) Conference, Dell training advisor Danielle Strazzo polled seven Fortune 100 companies on their reasons for implementing an eLearing strategy. One hundred percent of responders cited learner accessibility as the most important factor in the decision – making sure that all employees had access to the same training, regardless of their location.

Another major factor? Training expense reduction, which was a concern for 57 percent of respondents. Travel time, company resources and course materials could all be slashed with eLearning applications. Of course, employee preferences was another deciding factor, since a large chunk of learners simply preferred the flexibility and efficiency of eLearning to traditional methods.

eLearning Methods Smaller Companies can Utilize

Fortune 100 companies have a lot of information to give to employees, from workplace safety training to leadership skills and industry-specific trends and techniques. Therefore, smaller companies could take a cue from the Fortune 100 organizations implementing eLearning for workplace training. Most know the value of cutting up courses into bite-sized pieces: A two-hour course is routinely chopped into 10- to 30-minute segments for better digestibility.

Another concern for these huge corporations is ensuring that materials and multimedia are available in all locations; even those without access to high bandwidth. That means condensing courses and utilizing a combination of video, audio and text, a lesson in blended learning that any company can take into consideration.

4 Ways to Increase Training Retention through eLearning

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Retention: The gold standard for engaged training. Find out how to increase training retention  from eLearning Mind!

In workplace training, learner retention is the gold standard for measuring the effectiveness of your course material, instructor and delivery method. Without sufficient retention rates, it’s in one ear – and gone by the time your learner heads for the conference room door. By switching up your methods, you can boost the efficiency of your training to facilitate better information retention in – and out – of class.

Savor the Flavor with Smaller Portions

Think about it: The best restaurants serve their finest quality food in smaller portions. The same goes for learning. When you chop subject matter in more digestible parts, you increase retention for each subject. In general, you should be able to fit all of your key points on an index card for max retention opportunity.

A Quick Check In Goes a Long Way

Your work isn’t done once your learners leave the classroom. Instead, checking in frequently, offering reminders, facts and other bits of information can trigger retention even after the course is over. A text alert, shared video or startup reminder can be enough to help learners remember the important stuff.

Increase Opportunities for Involved Learning

In short, engaged learners are like sponges: They soak up the subject material better than those who simple watch and listen. Create opportunities for your learners to get involved during your training through role playing, taking quizzes, playing games (with incentives) and asking discussion questions. The more your learners are active participants, the better their retention rates.

eLearn to Tell a Story

While bullet points are often held as the standard for training, you might get better results by switching up your method to a narrative approach. Customer service training, for example, is more effective if you skip the bullet points and tell a story about the customer first: Who is she, and why is she calling? This creates an emotional connection between learner and training, which is perfect for increasing retention.

 

4 Ways to Make Training More Fun for Repeat Learners

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Learning the second time around doesn't need to be a challenge. Get tips on making training rewarding for repeat learners from eLearning Mind!

Engaging learners when the material is new to them is challenging enough. Engaging the ones who have been there and done that? It’s a different beast altogether. Repeat learners may be required to be present for mandatory training, but you don’t have to bore them with the same old details. Adding some allowance for repeat learners can make the process more fun and less of a chore.

Add Incentives to Increase Engagement

Even if the material is a repeat, past learners might be more apt to come and participate if you offer incentives. It can be as simple as treats in the conference room, gift cards for participants who give the right answers or a prize for the learner who scores the highest on an exit quiz. It’s simply a method to “pay” repeat learners for their attendance – again.

Introduce Gamification

By switching up your delivery method, you grab the attention of all your learners – even those who have attended before. Gamification, for instance, is an excellent way to engage learners in the material while offering you the best opportunity to observe and analyze efficiency. From role playing to Q&A gaming apps, it’s one way to make sure repeat learners brush up on their skills without being completely bored.

Give Learners Freedom with Multiple Options

Why penalize repeat leaders for attending training again? By forcing them to follow the same material as everyone else, you’re essentially disregarding their past involvement. Instead, offer options to “test out” of chapters and topics, using quizzes and discussion questions that allow you to assess their knowledge base and respect their past participation.

Condense the Material into Smaller Portions

Whenever possible, condense material down from walls of text to quick-fire videos, flash cards and refresher courses. While you delve deeper with the first-time learners, your repeat customers can view the condensed material as a way to refresh their memories, rather than retaking the same course again.