Creating an eLearning (electronic learning) course doesn’t have to be as daunting of a task as we make it out to be. Depending on where you work and who you work for, I’m sure you’ve seen both ends of the spectrum. At one end, you have so many details you could create a college level curriculum and potentially bypass the audience the learning is intended for. At the other end you have so little details or misinformation that all you can create is a coloring activity book that, at best, will improve the learner’s artistic skills.
Let’s take the mental load off and help bring your eLearning course to fruition in a much simpler way. There are many processes for this such as ADDIE, SAM, NEEDS analysis, and TASK analysis. This simplified process fits into those other models, but only from a high-level.
In Part 2 and Part 3 of this series we will address the HOW and WHAT in the creation of an eLearning course, but here we will focus on the WHY. As in: Why is the training needed? This is the critical first step to creating eLearning.
Why... (fill in the blank)
Example: WHY is this eLearning course needed?
To avoid making this too difficult and getting stuck oncoming up with the answers, use the interrogative pronouns or wh-pronouns to get your answers to the WHY. These are the words that begin a question in the English language: WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW and WHY.
Answering the WHY is going to help you define the PURPOSE of the eLearning course. If the person that is building the course doesn’t know the purpose of the eLearning, then neither will the person taking the course. This creates a huge disconnect and learning retention might as well get thrown out the window, along with the time spent taking an eLearning course that has no purpose or practical value to the learner.
Check out some of the questions below and see the impact they can have on the creation of an eLearning course?
This is what is called a Systems Approach to Training, or SAT. That is, looking at the entire system by asking these questions up front to see how this specific eLearning will impact, not only the learner, but the system (organization) as a whole.
CAUTION! Nearly every time you take this step you will likely expose other issues in an organization, department or even individuals. In this case, all we can say is be prepared! You may not be in a place to address these issues or have a say in them. In some cases, you may catch some flack for exposing issues that may or may not have been known already.
With that said, probably the best approach at this point is keep your main thing the main thing. That is the eLearning at hand. Be prepared with your recommendations and WHY you recommend them based on your new-found knowledge and then leave the final decision making up to those who have that power. In addition, by asking these questions, you are doing a favor for those with decision making authority by giving them the facts to make better decisions. This in turn, only makes you look good when those you work for make the good decisions.
So WHY ask WHY if it will only cause potential problems? That’s a good question and we’re glad you asked! By asking WHY, you gain the upper hand in building out your eLearning because now you can address true problem in the correct manner, with the correct method, using the correct content for the correct audience. You essentially are beginning with the end in mind and working backwards to create all the necessary pieces to address the problem at hand.
In closing, lets picture a couple of “FICTICIOUS” scenarios:
Your sales department head requests an eLearning to help meet sales revenue which has dropped below the intended goals for the past 3 months.
You begin to ask the following questions:
Again, this is just a “FICTICIOUS” scenario and non-exhaustive when it comes to the questions. You can see though, by answering these questions, you may already begin to discover that even if you sent every sales representative to a weeklong course on how to make sales, there is a high probability that you will still have the same issue the following week. This is because the issue isn’t necessarily the sales reps, but the management in this scenario.
Let’s take this same scenario and change up the answers just a little and see how this impacts the choice to develop eLearning:
Same questions, but different answers. However, in one scenario by asking WHY you expose a potential deeper issue with the new management and in the latter scenario you find that an eLearning could potentially very easily fix this issue by training the sales reps the proper use of the new sales software.
The goal of the SAT is not to expose every issue of an entity or department, but to dig deep so you can create top notch eLearning with a systems approach that will benefit the organization. Don’t forget, this will also help define the eLearning’s purpose so it will connect with the learners and create the most impact in learning retention.