Systems E-Learning – it’s not a phrase to get the heart pounding, is it? But that’s because most systems training does little more than replicate screens and drill the learner. No wonder people don’t get too excited. There’s got to be a better way. There is. Right here:
Our approach to systems e-learning
In our experience, systems e-learning needs to do a lot more than just replicate screens. Here are six things we aim to do in systems e-learning designs:
1. Create context, sell the benefits: all systems are enablers of a business goal. If you don’t focus on that goal, and provide some context for it, you miss an opportunity to get learners focused on what the system enables them to do better – there’s usually a ‘better for you, better for the business’ message that needs to be delivered upfront. This is especially true if it’s not obvious, or there’s some scepticism about the point of using the system.
2. Tell a story: if all the systems training does is force you through a long list of tasks, learners are going to bore pretty quickly. If you can find a strong metaphor or narrative approach, you’ll stand a much better opportunity of getting and holding attention. For Compass Group, we worked together to devise the ‘Compass Detective Board Game’. By casting Regional Managers as detectives in their own board game, they learn to solve their performance needs by solving problems and making mistakes in a safe and structured environment.
3. Focus: More is not better. It’s typical in e-learning to want to cover everything, and generally stakeholders and business representatives are in favour of saying “this needs to be included”. For systems training this can quickly translate into ‘every screen and every task must be covered.' But more is rarely better. You need to apply the 80/20 rule and focus on only key tasks. Simple performance support or in-system practice or help can handle the rest.
4. Give a tour: rather than diving straight into task-specific challenges, we believe it’s helpful to give an overview of the key things you can do in the system and a tour of the interface – especially if the system is completely new to learners.
5. Let them get stuck in: as much as possible, let the learners choose how they want to go through the learning (as you could have a real range of experienced hands and complete beginners). So provide combinations of a Show Me (demonstrations of tasks), Try It (opportunities to practice with feedback when they get something wrong) and Test me (scored and assessed to confirm learners can do each task). For many of our clients we often combine ‘show me’ opportunities to review how to perform a task (when tasks are complex) but immediately offer ‘try it’ opportunities when the action should be straightforward. Adult learners don’t need to be led through complete demonstrations first – it’s better to give people a choice and if they make a mistake, direct them back to the 'try it' option for feedback and support.
We’ve applied these techniques on hundreds of systems training projects for clients including Barclays, Cable&Wireless, M&S and Compass Group. Find out about some of them in by having a look at our case studies.
Need to get systematic in your e-learning? Get in touch.