Who knows more about which bits of learning content have worked best – the person in charge of designing it, or the person who has just used it to learn something? Isn’t it time to ask the audience?
The Amazon effect
Booking a holiday these days is a very different experience than a decade ago. We can do the whole thing online – comparing prices, getting the best deal, watching a 360 degree video of the hotel room. And then there’s the small matter of TripAdvisor.
Just when you’ve chosen your hotel and you’re ready to book, you notice all of the two-star reviews. Oh.
But here’s what’s useful about TripAdvisor – you can usually get a bit more information about the reviewers to put those low scores into context. “This hotel is very basic and doesn’t have a restaurant”, says one woman whose other reviews are all for luxury resorts. Well, that’s fine for me because I’d prefer to go out for food and my idea of ‘basic’ is probably very different from hers. But then “the bar is very noisy until the small hours”, says a man who looks about my age in the profile picture and has only written one other review before – a glowing five-star one for a quiet hotel I also like. That’s probably worth paying attention to – I’m too old for noisy nightlife!
I think of it as the ‘Amazon effect’ (even though it’s common to most e-commerce sites and other kinds of online transaction nowadays). People who did this thing also did this thing. Customers similar to you in some aspects found this item interesting or useful. A bit of context about who’s done the thing you’re about to do and how they found it adds plenty of value to your experience.
The effect for learning?
So let’s put that into context for workplace learning.
You’re new in the job and you’re logging into the LMS to see what kind of things you should learn as part of your induction. There’s a few courses recommended (or mandated) by the L&D team. Perhaps they’re carefully curated into themes and have some comments about what you’ll learn and why. That’s quite useful.
There’s a few things – a mix of courses and some resources - curated by your line manager into an area tailor-made for you and your requirements in this job. They’re accompanied by a bit of context and some comments about how you’ll put each bit of learning into action. Very useful.
Then there’s an area which contains resources curated by someone who does a similar job to yours – perhaps someone who started recently. They’re rated for relevance and effectiveness and come with some comments about whether the previous learner found them interesting and easy to use. You can also see a bit of basic information about that reviewer – what level were they at before, for instance? And you’ve got a list of learning resources they looked at next. Super useful.
And wait – as a designer, commissioner or curator of learning you’ve also got some in-the-moment feedback about the resources you’ve provided. From the horse’s mouth – was it useful, did it do the job and would I recommend it to someone else? What could be more useful than that?
How do you ask the audience?
It’s possible your LMS already allows for this to happen but you haven’t made use of the functionality yet. Or that you’d need to invest in the tech to bring this about. Or possibly just haven’t considered its power yet.
As we’ve said before about any kind of social learning, it’s almost certainly happening anyway in your organisation. Anecdotally, people are reviewing your learning content, even if it’s just aloud at their desk as they use a resource. Find out. To start with you could try a couple of short surveys about a particular course and publish the results. Or you could just introduce a quick feedback form at the end of online courses to capture immediate thoughts.
Whatever the mechanism, it’s all about control and ownership. Many hotel owners have had a love-hate relationship with TripAdvisor – asking for bad reviews to be removed or publishing good ones on their own website. Their biggest learning was that they don’t and can’t control what’s said about their business. In L&D who has ownership? Ask the audience!