Why you should use case studies to make your elearning course more engaging

There is a big difference between a course that is engaging, and a course that is well-documented.

You may create a comprehensive course with interactive branch scenarios and detailed explanation, but, if it is not relevant to the learner, than it will just confuse or worst case, frustrate her. Such a pattern may be good and easy to build, but it is only good enough to share information. It lacks in creating engagement and results in poor retention in the mind of the learner. Such courses are ‘well-documented’, but not engaging.

Engagement requires an emotional connection between the content and the learner. It goes beyond presenting interactive content; it is about designing truly motivating learning experiences.

The biggest challenge in creating an elearning course is engaging the learner, and there is a very simple solution for this – Case Studies

So here’s how you can use case studies to make your course engaging and interesting.

  • It is after all, a story: Humans have used the art of story-telling as a mode of communicating ideas and knowledge since the Stone Age, and there is a reason behind it. We tend to remember a story better than just facts, and it provides a very practical, firsthand account of events that happened, and the appropriate solutions to them.
  • It is simple: The simpler your story, the clearer is the message and the easier it is for the learner to remember and use it when required. If you stuff your course with extra details, your course will end up being a clutter of abstract information, making it tougher for both – you and the learner.
  • A relevant perspective: If you tell your story from the perspective of the customer, or anyone other than the learner, she will receive insights on the situation from a different perspective too. Also, this will raise the interest of the person enrolled in your course. Instead of telling the learner what they need to know, show them how not knowing affects others.

Even as a trainer, this makes things simpler for you as well.

Case studies need lesser time to build, and they rarely result in an information dump. Thus, you waste lesser time and energy, thinking and pondering over your course, and tweaking it time and again by introducing gimmicks to make it more engaging.

A case study is still mostly linear, but I see it as a first step in an iterative process of moving away from the boring click and read style. What is your take on this?

P.S.: If you are interested in knowing about micro-learning, then this one is a good place to start – 5 reasons why micro-learning is perfect for today’s workforce

 

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8 reasons to use serious games for training

1. Highly Engaging
Serious games are very engaging and communicate in a fashion that is easily acceptable by the human mind. Use of elements like story, interesting characters, relevant settings, etc engage the user emotionally.

2. Safe Environment
Users learn to deal with real life-like situations in a safe and engaging environment. They can make mistakes and keep on practicing till they are well-trained, which in turn boosts their confidence.

3. Instructional Design Based
Serious games are always designed after conducting an instructional design study (the study of creating instructional experiences which make knowledge acquisition more efficient and effective). It foresees and tackles the possible roadblocks that might hinder the learning process.

4. Reusable & Cost-effective
Once designed, Serious Games can be used multiple times. You don’t need a facilitator or special sessions to use this. The cost for maintenance and updating a serious game is negligible given its extensive uses.

5. Easy to Understand
Serious games are great when it comes to delivering complicated knowledge. These games communicate complex pieces of information in a fun and engaging way.

6. Reporting & Analytics
Serious games allow you to capture the users’ data. This is one of the main advantages they have over offline or classroom training. These reports can be used later for optimising the training content.

7. Acts as a Booster
These games can boost any learning methodology i.e. These games provide a welcome break in between modules or learning schedules and engage the user by means of its gameplay.

8. Tried & Tested
Serious games ARE effective! Several Research Studies have acknowledged the fact that serious games do add on to the overall learning experience. These games have been used in different sectors like defense, retail, insurance, etc and have been found useful.

 

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7 things to check before implementing a micro-learning system in your organisation

Implementing a learning system for any organisation is not an easy task. It requires deep analysis of the organisation’s requirements, resources and estimation of the future needs as well.

The key to a proper implementation of any learning system is identifying the constraints and defining the specifications for the system. This study, known as the ‘Detailed Constraint Analysis’, helps in identifying the constraints which might create a roadblock during the actual implementation. (Download this INCITE Micro-learning Framework to find out more about Detailed Constraint Analysis)

Here are the 7 recommended parameters one must check to ensure that the implementation specifications are comprehensive:

1. Device Constraints – These constraints pertain to whether the micro-learning is being built for the mobile or the desktop or both. Based on the answer to this question, constraints with respect to operating systems, screen orientation and sizing, app vs. web, etc. need to be further analyzed.

2. Security Constraints – These constraints pertain to the data and access security concerns of the organization. These can range from basic questions like whether the learning is to be accessible only inside the office to more complex issues like remote wiping of learning data on exits, etc.

3. Bandwidth Constraints – These constraints pertain to the network bandwidth available for the learning system. These constraints are typically derived from surrogate analysis of geographical dispersion and network capabilities of the devices on which the learning is to be deployed.

4. Org Structure Constraints – These pertain to the team structures within the company and non-hierarchical structures (like Leadership Group, Committees, etc.) that might be present. The main aspect to analyze is the likelihood and extent of overlap between multiple micro-learning systems for a learner who might belong to multiple cohorts.

5. Engagement Level Constraints – A lot of organizations seek to tread cautiously on the extent of engagement they would like to implement. The interaction level of the micro-learning has to be kept on the fine line which creates motivation without creating obsession which hampers work.

6. Learner Psychology Constraints – Depending on the organizational DNA and employee profiles, it is critical to understand the needs and attitudes of the learner groups and design the system accordingly. In this section, it is also critical to assess how learners might try to “game the system”.

7. Learning Objective Constraints – Ultimately, it all comes down to the learning objectives that you want to drive through the system. Depending on the objectives you want to achieve, you will need to make trade-offs on engagement, length, seriousness, etc.

Document the above constraints and your Learning System Specifications are ready! Now you can move on to the next stage – Designing the micro-learning system. (How to design a micro-learning system for your organisation in 6 easy steps)

 

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7 key elements of an engaging learning flow

Learning is a process, not an event, which makes the planning of the journey through the process, a critical part of learning design. The navigation of learning flows is fundamental to the success of any micro-learning implementation.

So, before we find out about the key elements, let us understand what is a ‘Learning Flow’.

A Learning Flow is a continuous steady stream of social micro-learning activities – accessible from the web and mobile devices. (Hart, 2014)

Now, let’s look at each of the elements of the above sentence, that describe a Learning Flow.

  • continuous – that are ongoing (i.e. no end date)
  • steady – that are daily (or probably more likely, weekly)
  • micro-learning – that are short – i.e. taking no longer than 15-20 minutes to undertake
  • activities – that involve reading (watching or listening to) something and doing something
  • social – that invite and encourage active participation and contribution
  • stream – that are organized and structured in the Flow in weekly themes
  • accessible from web and mobile devices – that ensure that learning takes place anywhere and at anytime

Make sure you keep these in mind while designing micro-learning solutions for your organisation. (How to design a micro-learning system for your organization in 6 easy steps)

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Is micro-learning the solution you need?

Micro-learning (a.k.a. micro learning or micro-learning) is an emergent learning strategy known for quickly closing skill and knowledge gaps. It seems to be an ideal instructional approach for many situations because:

  • Information changes quickly
  • People find it difficult to keep up with things
  • Resources are freely available online
  • Newer technologies support it

What is Micro-learning?

Some in the industry conceptualize micro-learning as a small and informal self-directed learning experience arising from one’s personal learning environment, such as watching a Ted Talk or taking a lesson from Khan Academy.

Others think of micro-learning as the planned organization of brief learning experiences designed to meet an extended learning goal. Still others think that micro-learning is synonymous with performance support or mobile learning.

Want to know more about Micro-learning? Read the complete article by Connie Malamed.

(Connie Malamed is an eLearning, information and visual designer. She has a Masters Degree in Instructional Design & Technology and many years of experience in the trenches.)

 

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How to design a micro-learning system for your organisation in 6 easy steps

Designing a learning system for any organisation is a critical task. It’s not easy, given the fact that one has to consider the various departments in an organisation and understand their training requirements. Not to forget, coordinating and collaborating with different entities like Learning Consultant, Human Resources, IT and so on. One often gets confused on where to begin.

The good news is, once you finish reading this article, you will know exactly how to start and where to start.

Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting … The INCITE Micro-learning Framework – a step-by-step framework to help you design a Micro-Learning system for any organisation’s training need.

I am going to write down a brief synopsis of this framework which should be enough to help you get started. (Download the full whitepaper here)

Step 1 – Implementation

Understanding the objective of the micro-learning system

The first pillar of this framework is to discover the ask from the micro-learning management system and establish the constraints around organizational processes, technology and learner psychology. This will ensure that you stay focused throughout the process and will help you in your decision-making process.

Step 2 – Navigation

Establishing the flow of the learning content

Depending on the objective, the flow of the learning has to be established next. An established concept in Formal Learning design, creating a learning flow is akin to establishing curriculum and lesson plans for a course. In simple words, how do you want your learner to access your content. Should all the topics be accessible at the same time as a library? Or one needs to go through all topics in a particular sequence?

Step 3 – Content

Creation of micro-learning content

Micro-learning content is very distinct from regular e-learning content. It is driven by criticality of information, which in turn drives size and form of the content. Ensure that the content is developed keeping in mind that it is for a micro-learning system. (Read more: How to design micro-learning content in 4 easy steps)

Step 4 – Interactivity

Deciding on the interactive elements in the course

A learning system targeted towards the modern learner has to engage first and explain quickly. This makes it essential to embrace a participative pedagogy delivered through interactivity. Decide on the level of interactivity and the elements which would go well with your learners. It could be a quiz, or a video, or a game.

Step 5 – Testing

Deciding on the assessment criteria for the learner

The modern learner has typically grown up in a very connected social context, with high doses of competition and a healthy dose of skepticism towards authority. Modern testing methodologies have to account for these attitudes. The usual ones like online quizzes might not work here. Try exploring options like games or simulations. These are more engaging and effective.

Step 6 – Effectiveness

Measuring the learning outcome

Of all organizational processes, learning is perhaps the least measurable, reducing the focus and importance of this function in spite of its criticality for the organization. Measurement of learning effectiveness is critical to the success of any learning system.

That’s it! You are ready.

In case you want to know more about The INCITE Micro-learning Framework, you can download the complete whitepaper here – http://goo.gl/47iWZn

Also, if you need help in setting up a micro-learning system for your organisation, feel free to get in touch with me at deepak@quodeck.com.

How to design micro-learning content in 4 easy steps

“We are moving from a world where computing power was scarce to a place where it now is almost limitless, and where the true scarce commodity is increasingly human attention” – Satya Nadella.

Micro-learning caters to this reality and helps in planning out content to be delivered in the most effective manner. (5 reasons why micro-learning is perfect for today’s workforce)

So how does one design micro-learning content?

Using the Criticality Analysis – a 4-step approach inspired from the INCITE Micro-learning Framework.

Step 1 – Collate

As a first step to designing micro-learning content, the learning material needs to be collated from across various sources. Look out for wiki articles, whitepapers, pdfs, blogs, presentations for raw content. Given the plentiful resources found on the internet and other sources, one could end up collating an incredibly large amount of information. The trick to collection is knowing what to pick. Remember, micro-learning is about bite-sized content, and that is where the collation focus should be.

Step 2 – Curate

Once all the content has been collated, as a logical next step, remove all duplicate or near-duplicate information. Post this step, classify the content nuggets into one of these 5 categories – Facts, Concepts, Processes, Procedures and Principles. This will help you in figuring out how to present the content.

Step 3 – Chunking

Chunking involves reducing information that can be difficult to remember, down into shorter and more manageable chunks. The typical rule of thumb for the length of a micro-learning topic is approximately 15 minutes. In our experience, this is enough time to cover 30-40 points at a maximum for a topic.

Step 4 – Compose

The next step is to organize the chunked content into a logical flow. Subsequent to that, each point is to be deconstructed into its critical import and additional information. The critical information has to be front and center in the micro-learning flow, while the additional information should be made discretionary in terms of access for the learner. This output should ideally be first organized into an instructional design storyboard.

And finally, even though this is not a part of the process, it is a critical thing – an authoring tool for composing your content into consumable learning blocks. This will largely be determined by the micro-learning technology you decide on. (Design a micro-learning system for your organization)

Hope this should get you started with your micro-learning content. Have any queries? Mention in the comments below!

 

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When to use visuals in learning content

Do you really need to include visuals in your learning content, or you should avoid them? Find out by taking this ‘Picture Test’!

  1. Will the visual make the content easy to understand?
  2. Will the visual be more effective than an extensive description?
  3. Will the visual help you structure your content in a better way?
  4. Will the visual make your content attractive enough to grab the reader’s attention?
  5. Will the visual help you reinforce the central idea?

If the answer to any of the above questions is ‘Yes’, then feel free to use visuals in your content.

5 reasons why micro-learning is perfect for today’s workforce

Do you know that the attention span of an average human is shorter than a goldfish? (Source: Microsoft Canada, 2015). A goldfish can focus for nine seconds; people are down to a mere eight seconds.

So, the million-dollar question is – how do you design learning which caters to such a short attention span and ensure that it is effective as well?

Micro-learning is the way out!

Micro-learning deals with relatively small learning units and short-term-focused activities (Hug, 2005). In the e-learning context, it refers to a learner’s short interaction with learning matter broken down to very small bits of content.

Here are 5 reasons why micro-learning is perfect for today’s mobile-oriented workforce.

  1. Easy on memory: Learners are routinely overburdened by unfocused, information-heavy content. Micro-learning reduces cognitive load, making it easier for learners to process.
  2. Low on space: Since micro-learning takes up less digital space, you can avoid digital real estate issues that come with storing and displaying media files – especially on mobile devices.
  3. More focused: Micro-learning is more focused in scope, making it easier for a learner to tie what they learn directly to specific on-the-job actions.
  4. Cost-effective: Short content is cheaper and faster to produce and update, so you can continually test and experiment, even on the tightest budgets.
  5. Learning throughout the day: Micro-learning forces us to consider the small learning moments and opportunities that happen continuously throughout an employee’s day.

If you could think of more reasons, share with me in the comments below!

 

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INCITE – A Micro-learning Framework

Millennials constitute a majority of today’s workforce.The US Bureau of Labor statistics estimates that this group already exceed 50% of the total employee pool and will cross 75% by 2030. Raised in an era of ‘instant access’, this generation consumes information primarily in the form of multimedia, and their most preferred method of communication is their mobile device.

Devising learning solutions for this mobile oriented workforce requires a completely different approach i.e. Micro-Learning. INCITE is one such Micro-Learning framework, developed through the author’s work with over 40 large companies helping them create Micro-Learning systems.

Download your FREE copy of INCITE to get a unique and effective perspective on Micro-Learning – http://goo.gl/qxlokL

Insights on corporate e-learning, mobile learning, learner engagement, and all things game-based…