It’s all very well to promote the benefits of any or all forms of online learning – especially its flexibility – but people will only embrace this learning if they want to learn and are actively encouraged to do so by both their line and senior managers.
In addition to this managerial encouragement, there are other sources of potential motivation. One of these is that the learning must be done for regulatory or compliance purposes (basically, ‘do this learning or you lose your job’) but a further motivational source is the quality of the instructional design embedded in the learning materials.
In these days of rapid authoring tools and the idea that any subject matter expert can produce high quality e-learning at the touch of a template-wielding button, old fashioned instructional design has tended to take a back seat. Yet, to improve the chances of any piece of online learning being effective – in the sense of people actually wanting to do it and, maybe, even enjoying the experience – you should probably:
- Set technical standards for the whole project – including lists of the software required and how it is to be set up.
- Make sure that the instructional designer is fully briefed on the subject material by a subject matter expert (SME) – or that the SME is competent in instructional design skills in order to produce the learning materials.
- Keep the format of the material simple.
- Ensure that part of the production process is to test the programme rigorously with groups of users with similar skills to your target audience. Note their responses and the way they use the programme. Was it relevant to their jobs? Could its content be easily assimilated into working practices? Did they find navigating through the programme easy? How long did it take them to complete the programme? Did the user control the programme or go through it linearly (from start to finish)? And, of course, did the users enjoy the learning experience?
One common factor affecting the success of any learning project is the need for it to be supported wholeheartedly by all strata of management, led by senior executives. Nothing will succeed if you forget all of the people aspects of learning.