In some ways, the learning industry evolves quickly and trends change all of the time (like these 3 trends we found earlier in the year). But in other ways, it’s not changing fast enough. Innovation in leadership development, employee development, and education is the lifeblood of staying current and competitive in today’s corporate landscape, and it’s up to learning leaders like you to drive that change.
“Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive. This facility makes it the most versatile and explicit means of communication yet devised for quick mass appreciation.” -Walt Disney
At first glance, the decision to go with animation over live-action training makes sense from a business perspective. It’s obviously much less expensive than hiring a subject matter expert, and it gives you the chance to create branded assets specific to your organization.
We’ve all been there: Whether at a meeting, at their desk, or taking a training module, despite your best efforts, you struggle to keep employees focused. Maybe you’re thinking about what you need to buy at the store on the way home. Maybe you’re daydreaming about your next vacation. Whatever the reason for the wandering, it signifies a deeper problem than disorganized thoughts: It means that you’re not engaged with what’s happening around you.
When you hear the term “growth hack,” what do you think of? Similar to growth marketing, it’s one of those buzzwords that marketing pros throw around, especially when speed and size are of the essence. But more than just a flashy hashtag, #growthhacking has real applications when it comes to helping your learners see the need for more training.
Running through an arena and fighting for your life is one thing, but does competition work as well in the office as it does in the movie theater? If you’ve ever seen The Hunger Games movies, you know that competition can be a huge motivator–especially when life is at stake. But if the stakes are much, much lower, can you still capitalize on competition as a way to engage learners and increase takeaway?
It sounds like something straight out of King Arthur’s court: Retail leader Zappos spent much of 2015 doing away with management as we know it. Instead of the traditional hierarchy by which most organizations operate, Zappos took on a radical reorganization by getting rid of bosses and moving toward a self-management model.
You may not realize it, but we have a natural defense to avoid information overload. Imagine that someone is giving you a phone number. It’s almost universal: They will give you the first three numbers first (8-6-7) before giving you the last four numbers (5-3-0-9). Why do humans almost naturally default to this method of “chunking” information?
Learning is a lot more than just “Read this,” and “Look at that.” When receiving new information, our brains are firing on all cylinders to process, route, and store that data for later recall. With 86 billion neurons firing at a rate of 300 million per second, the brain is a veritable information and retrieval machine, so why does so much learning ignore the brain’s way of thinking?
This about why we so easily remember things like songs, commercials, and movies, but seem to almost instantaneously forget the content of last week’s training material. You might not realize it, but neurolearning pieces are at play here.
“I will buy X when I win the Powerball” posts are blowing up every social media channel and news outlet over the past week. The skyrocket in lottery ticket sales with the Powerball hitting its highest grand prize to date exposes the powerful (and slightly scary) influence the lottery has over our brains. We aren’t fools. Every person understands how unlikely the chances of picking the winning numbers are, yet most of us are going to buy at least one lottery ticket before tonight’s draw.
It’s called the “Fear of Missing Out,” or FOMO. It’s that feeling you get when you haven’t checked into Facebook or you RSVP to that event, even if you don’t really want to go. It’s what keeps you scrolling through pictures on Instagram or checking Twitter every five minutes. It’s the sense that if you don’t check in almost constantly, you’re missing out on something amazing.
Of course, we know that not every status update is a gem and every picture posted isn’t Picasso, but it’s not the actual content that keeps us glued; it’s the delivery method. Social media sites use specific updating tactics and strategies that keep you checking in often. It’s bad news for your data plan, but if you can harness the strategy for eLearning, it’s good news for your training strategy.
The Power of Notifications
One of the ways Facebook, iMessage, and Instagram keep you checking and rechecking is that they offer clear notifications for when something changes on your feed. New picture posted? Notification. Someone tagged you? Notification. These notifications keep the app or site fresh in your mind, so it’s hard to navigate away.
Notifications can become a powerful tool in mobile learning. By letting users know when another person has signed in and completed a module, or how long it’s been since their last session, you trigger that fear of missing out and engineer a response to check in and interact with the module again.
Letting Learners Lead
Think about the last time you downloaded a game onto your phone. Chances are that the game gave you a few quick tips to get going, but then you’re left on your own to figure out the game play strategy, controls, and capabilities.
Now, contrast that to eLearning. Do you force users through the same experience? Do your learners have time to test, experiment, and try the module out for themselves? As it turns out, a comprehensive user experience may not be as addictive as one that encourages learners to try for themselves. That’s they kind of experience that keeps learners wanting to come back and master different levels, achieve goals, and find out how to use the module.
A little bit of anticipation–or even anxiety–is a surefire way to build FOMO. That’s because when people fear that their friends are doing something cool or that everyone’s talking about the latest trending topic, they want to hop online and get involved.
It’s OK to build a little bit of suspense into your learning modules, especially when they contain game-like elements. Don’t show all of your cards at once: Instead, let learners build their learning experiences by trying new things, making mistakes, and moving onto new chapters and sections as they go. Instead of flat learning trajectory, learners experience one that is multidimensional and tailored to their specific learning styles.
Giving Instant Feedback
When you send a text message and get one in return, it floods your brain with dopamine. It’s the satisfaction of instant gratification, and it’s hard to get more instant than instant messaging. We love our smartphones and computers because they move quickly. From posting pictures to sending comments, liking, and searching, FOMO occurs when you lose access to your quick source of constant information.
When building eLearning modules, remember that instant feedback is a powerful tool to keep users on the right track and motivated to learn. Instead of floundering and wondering how they’re doing, they know exactly where they excel and where improvement is needed.
Whether or not FOMO is a good thing in social media is up to you; but in eLearning, FOMO is a definite motivator. By building in the anticipation and fear that everyone else is getting to experience something awesome, it’s possible to design true learning addicts from even the most casual learners.