Making it shine from the inside – reflection counts

'Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is learning here at all?'
We’ve all seen a lot of e-learning fall flat for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is that it’s often simply used as a vehicle in which to dump impersonal information. Are you in the e-learning at all? To paraphrase Lionel Ritchie (something you should do very carefully): 'Hello – is it you you’re looking for?'

We’ve talked before about clicky-clicky bling-bling – e-learning that sparkles and shines but has no substance.  Its equally unwelcome cousin is present in unreflective elearning: clicky-clicky blah-blah—boring, impersonal drones of corporate information that fail to engage or connect the learner with any sense of relevance or purpose.

One way to take the blah out of the experience is to make it about the learner. Help them see the relevance and let them connect to the content in a personal way.

Classroom trainers do this all the time as a way to draw the learner in. Standing at the front of the classroom, they ask pointed questions and get participants talking about their own experiences. They have an advantage, in that, they can look you in the eye and wait for an answer.

So how can you do this in e-learning, where you can’t reach out of the screen to grab the learner? Try these three tips.

1. Make it personal. Talk directly to the learner

Typical e-learning-speak might look like this: 'Negotiating effectively is an important skill that we all use on a daily basis.'

What if you tried something like this instead? 'When was the last time you negotiated something? Maybe it was more recently than you think….' We’ve created a module on communication for one of our financial services clients that starts with a series of reflective questions just like this. Give people the time to stop, think and reflect. Audio can help here too.

2. Hold the mirror up and make the learner reflect on their own situation.

Ask 'How are you doing this today?' or 'Have you ever done that?'

You can do this simply with a text and graphics screen. Put a question up on the screen and get the learner to stop and think.

Remember, interactivity doesn’t have to be about clicking. True interaction happens in the brain – make ‘em cogitate.

3. Move beyond the course. Take the experience beyond the e-learning event.

Consider going with a mentored approach – perhaps an exercise in the program could require the learner to print out a workbook that they then discuss with their manager.

Or make use of social media tools (e.g. Yammer or discussion forums) within your organisation to connect employees with each other on a particular topic, so they can talk, share and reflect together.

So what are you gonna do about it?

Have you ever tried to do this in your e-learning programs? How have you done it? Do you think this could work in your own programs? Maybe you’ve already tried some of these ideas, or something similar – did they worked? 

Why not share your ideas over in our LinkedIn E-Learning Professionals Group? Talk to us. Talk to each other. Nobody’s really alone in a well-designed learning experience.