Investment in eLearning is a popular trend. Organizations are quickly accepting that real change and innovation come with regular training. In order to keep pace with the ever-changing market, organizations need to develop and implement best practices in their business strategy. Once organizational strategy is finalized, the next step is to put it into action.
Employee performance is the direct reflection of organizational strategy. Unfortunately, this is not as simple as it sounds. The process of converting organizational goals into performance requires the right training content. It also requires the right content development and deployment tools. The eLearning course research and marketing is also an added cost. The cost of the entire process challenges training managers to justify the training in terms of enhanced performance and measurable ROI.
In this article, we will discuss some insider’s tips on how to tweak your eLearning program in order to improve your eLearning ROI.
Teach authentic skills
What are authentic skills? The definition changes with each course and transfer of learning context. Authentic skills are the skills required to perform the tasks in the learner’s work context. Observe the performance of your future learners and discuss the gaps with their managers. Design instruction that reinforces authentic skills. Provide ample opportunity for drill and practice activities. Creating eLearning courses that align well with performance gaps will definitely improve ROI. Talk to the SME to help you revise your course. Make the most of their input by talking about “action” more than “information” needed for the course.
Design for successful marketing
Do not underestimate the power of first impressions. Edward Thorndike (1874 – 1949), a renowned psychologist, had a thing to say about first impressions. The Halo Effect. The human mind scans a new item with rapid decisions to associate it with positive or negative emotions.
Be very careful with your choice of course image, the typography, the course title and your catch-line (the byline that you use to attract learners, right below the title of the course). Convince your learner to register through careful design. A professional looking course provides a powerful impression on its validity and credibility. Use the following tips from the Halo Effect phenomenon to improve the first impression of your course.
- If learners like the landing page or the course image, they are very likely to be interested in the rest of the course. One positive impression automatically leads to positive expectations for the rest of the course. This impression is in essence, a strong motivator.
- On the contrary, if the learners dislike one aspect of the course (we are still talking about the initial few interfaces) they will have a negative disposition towards the whole course.
- Think about the first few paragraphs of a novel. This is where the writer hooks the reader. Once engaged, the reader wants to know what’s next. Use powerful starting storylines, vignettes, images and video to hook your learners.
- Several first-glance impressions in eLearning are based on design – colors, fonts, images etc. Use these pointers to have the Halo Effect work in your favor:
- Design – Create a small group of “test users” to get an honest and hard look at your course. Better yet, create a short survey to get specific feedback from this test group. Here’s your chance to prove your brilliance!
- Color – Color psychology is not a passing fad! It’s been around for ages. Picasso and others knew this well. Colors and their combination draw in the learner similar to an art fanatic being drawn to a painting. Research on best practices in color use for learning. Colors set the mood and tone for your learning.
- Fonts – Typography is gaining rapid popularity in print media. With hundreds of free typography tools available, experiment with a few fonts and discover their effect.
- Images – Choose your images that explain the theme or the goal of the course. Use human figures for learners to relate with. Show extremes in emotions – from sad to happy. Images motivate through positive visions about personal success. The fits image should definitely provoke this vision.
- Text – Tip toe around text! Do not give out more than five bullet points per screen. If the concept can be demonstrated through an image, avoid descriptive text! Have the learner moving through pages quickly. The text will set the pace of your course. Impatient and out of time learners will come back to continue your course.
- Authoring Tool – Use a tool that satisfies learning needs of your learners. Analyze your learners and determine if they would prefer the mobile platform or a blended learning approach.
The Summative Feedback
Beta testing before the launch of the course is crucial for increase in ROI. Before rolling-out your course (and also during the overall theme and template design) invite a small group of mixed capability evaluators from your organization. You may find out that some images that work for you actually confuse some people in test group. You may also discover that areas of text are irrelevant or need correction. You will also be surprised to discover typos you knew never existed! This is a perfect time for editing. Revise with a smaller group again!
Develop Communities of Practice
With the popularity of social media, learners are bound to enjoy a chatting or comments space located directly beneath the course on the learner interface. Did you know that we reveal more knowledge to each other in textual form than when we talk? Our minds are engaged deeply and we are more insightful when writing out our thoughts. Exchanging and internalizing each other’s perspectives is a major component of “communities of practice”.
To get the most ROI, deploy your course a through a social LMS that enables you to mentor these informal knowledge transfer opportunities. Imagine getting notified on your mobile device each time a fellow-learner comments on your statement. You will have more users logged in at a given time to reply or provide feedback. In an organization of experts and novice, this is a perfect strategy to get them engaged and learn from each other.
The establishment of a learning organization through your eLearning courses is the most rewarding ROI.
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