Best Practices for Custom Elearning Content Development

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Why Choose Custom Elearning Content Development?

In our previous blog post, we discussed 7 Great Reasons Why Custom eLearning Development is the Right Choice. A case was made for Custom eLearning content development as opposed to off-the-shelf content. Perhaps the most important aspect of this advantage is that custom e-learning development of content necessitates that we develop a keen understanding of the business for which it is built. Every advantage that custom content provides is dependent on a thorough analysis of business needs and the right application of training modalities.

Best Practices for Custom Elearning Content Development

Modern training is heavily based on technology for delivery. Microlearning, gamification, simulations can help harness several fundamental learning principles that can lead to a better learning experience. Delivering an effective learning experience is critical to promote Return of Investment from training.

This blog post explores the best practices for custom eLearning content development that can improve the success rate of your L&D programs.

Translate Organizational Objectives into Training Goals

A mismatch between the training goals and the objectives of an organization is bad for both the learner and the organization. Matching training goals through the effective use of Learning Objectives is critical to maximizing the benefits of corporate learning. Establishing clear learning objectives also sets the groundwork for measuring the impact of the training and helps create a learning program that focuses on propelling the workforce towards achieving organizational goals.

Use the following Training A.I.D. system to build custom eLearning content:

  1. Analyze the business needs
  2. Identify the shortfalls and problem points
  3. Define the training objectives

Learning Objective Alignment:

Aligning the Learning Objectives with the business goals, learners will pave the way to another critical facet of effective training: Assessment.

Best Practices for Custom Elearning Content Development
Source: Presenting E-Learning and Design Concepts by S.A Sannwald (2013)

The Importance of Pre-Assessment and Post-Assessment

The most effective measure of training success is by determining the extent to which every learner met their learning objectives. To assess learning, it is important to have a baseline or pre-assessment of what workers know before instruction as well as an indication of what they know after instruction. A pre-assessment and post-assessment strategy will help determine the extent to which workers met the learning objectives.

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Look over every learning objective and develop a method of performance assessment.

  • Use well-defined learning objectives and devise a strategy to measure and record each learner’s performance, before and after instruction.
  • Employ your strategy and record individual performance, modern Learning Experience Platforms make this easier.

Results from the assessments should be used to make sound comparisons between pre-instruction and post-instruction performance.

Effective Content is Engaging Content

Whether tasked with sales enablement training, soft skills training, or technical training, ensure that you provide learners with an engaging, stimulating, and effective learning experience. This ensures that learners are left wanting more and inculcates a culture of learning.

Picture a typical corporate training session. Employees watch training videos passively, listening to the instructor describing tasks and procedures, with the use of slides and lectures. This mode of training is taxing, ineffective, and has no tangible benefits that translate into productive results.

Training should not be this way. Technical training can be fun, engaging, and lead to exciting experiences. These three characteristics can lead to training that yields results and leave the trainees wanting to learn and thereby improve their skills.

Learning engagement is the precursor to effective training. Here’s how your technical eLearning custom content can be engaging to learners:

  1. Use scenario-based learning
  2. Keep training curriculum role-based and relevant
  3. Incorporate visual mediums such as 3D graphics and simulations
  4. Emotional Engagement: Use a narrative that puts the learner at the center
  5. Add interactivity tools such as gamification for reinforcement
  6.  Use microlearning to deliver critical concepts

Interactive Content Begets Learning Success

While providing the opportunity to learn at and outside the workplace is becoming necessary to create a culture of continuous improvement, it isn’t enough. It is important to keep your workforce engaged in the pursuit of learning. This is especially important in the context of eLearning training conducted via technology, as opposed to in-person Instructor-led training.

There are a few time-tested methods of improving engagement with eLearning:

  • Learning by Doing

Learning by doing was first propounded by the American education reformer John Dewey. More recently, there has been scientific evidence that shows learners who took a hands-on approach had activation in sensory and motor-related parts of the brain when recalling key concepts. Activation of these brain areas is associated with better on-the-job performance.

  • Build Branched Scenarios
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One direct approach to training through branched scenarios is to build on micro assessments. When a learner answers a question incorrectly, they can be redirected to a module that explains the concept. This provides an opportunity for interactive training because the difficulty of a module is determined by the competency of a learner. If a learner is not competent in a fundamental concept, it is better to provide an opportunity for focused training instead of a static training session.

  • Facilitate Open Discussion

Integrating video conferencing software that features chat and a polling function can facilitate interaction between learners. This makes learner engagement multidimensional. Breakout sessions with more private chat rooms for learners where they can discuss a module and its implications in daily work can also be beneficial.

  • Personalize Learning Pathways

There is nothing more frustrating for learners than to endure content that they feel is irrelevant to their role. Ensure learners are taking courses that have real-life advantages. Make it evident how a course module can help perform their job more effectively or quickly by highlighting learning outcomes. Both assessments and branched scenarios provide the data for encouraging learners through personalized learning.

  • Harness Gamified Learning

Gamification of eLearning brings together many important elements of good training content development. Learning becomes exciting and interactive, feedback is often instantaneous, boosting motivation and engagement, which in turn encourages the workforce to continue learning and build up their knowledge.

Rather than using learning to make learning more engaging, it should be used as a means to set goals and achieve targets. 

Repetition is the key to Knowledge Retention

“With any considerable number of repetitions, a suitable distribution of them over a space of time is decidedly more advantageous than the massing of them at a single time.” — Hermann Ebbinghaus

Knowledge retention is one of the biggest challenges that all learners face. Spaced repetition is a useful, evidence-based technique to improve learning retention. Repetitive training helps to form long-term memory. Training that includes long intervals between sessions is termed spaced training or spaced learning. Since the seminal work of Ebbinghaus, spaced training is superior to training that includes shorter intervals in terms of memory formation.

Best Practices for Custom Elearning Content Development

Beat the Forgetting curve: Testing + Spacing = Spaced Retrieval Practice

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Studies have consistently shown that we can only remember five to seven new pieces of information at a time. This makes it near impossible for human beings, excluding perhaps some savants, such as Kim Peek, to retain a lot of information within a short time.

Combine this principle with periodic assessments to understand where learners are falling behind. Understanding training needs can help to better define learning objectives or as a barometer of content efficacy.

Focus on User Experience

In the case of developing custom eLearning content, the focus is on presenting the training content and engaging the learner in learning activities. However, top-notch, visually appealing, engaging content bears no effect unless it is combined with a great User Experience. This bears especially true in the digital age where learning takes place outside of the classroom.

A great User Experience can elevate an eLearning program. Measuring the success of L&D is often limited to the ROI, in other words, tracking the performance of a program. However, metrics that focus on how users consume and engage with learning content can be a better measure of content viability. 

Companies today rely more and more on content analytics to read into how content performs the intended goal.

Sound User Experience design also ensures that content conveys and accomplishes the objectives of the L&D initiatives. Here’s how:

  • Make navigation simple and easy, get users to where you want them
  • Highlighted interaction elements ensure users know which parts of the content require interaction
  • Consistency in design reduces the learning curve by alleviating stress
  • Learner-Centered Design emphasizes the importance of audience perception
  • A minimalist approach to design reduces chaos, prevents overwhelm
  • Mobile-first design is best when on-the-go learning is the norm

User experience emphasis from the ground-up, in the design as well as the delivery of training content is critical to the success of your L&D programs.

Best Practices for Custom Elearning Content Development

Following the best practices listed above for the development of custom eLearning content will ensure that your Learning and Development programs hit the target every time. If you have any further questions, ask us on Twitter @OriginLearning or leave a comment below.

To find out more about how the Origin Learning team can positively impact your organizational L&D, get in touch with us here.

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