“It’s not the destination; it’s the journey.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do you have fond memories of a road trip? What made it special and memorable? Are you the type that puts the pedal to the metal and makes it in record time or do you make the most of your time on the road? If you’re honest, it was that stop to see the world largest something, the character you met at the small town diner and the best fudge you’ve ever tasted in the town you can remember that seared the memory of the trip into your memory.
learning and development professionals, what can we take away from knowing that
a compelling journey can increase retention, engagement, and enjoyment? A rewarding learning journey, just like any enjoyable
road trip, should include the following components for maximum satisfaction:
1. A map: Learning experiences, just like any traveling experience,
require a clear path to success. Allow learners to progress at their own speeds
without unnecessary roadblocks or needing to head for the off ramp. Any challenges should provide meaning and
context to the learning experience, and should be part of the learning process,
so long as the final destination is attainable and clearly defined.
2. Snacks: Undoubtedly, road trip snacks are one of the most enjoyable
parts of the trip. They provide nourishment during long stretches of the drive,
and can help keep you awake and help you maintain energy and momentum.
Microlearning functions the same way in a learning program, by providing small
pieces of learning that tide learners over until the next stop. Don’t pack a
learning program entirely full of long, dense courses, and make sure to provide
learners with bite-sized content items when all they need is a “snack.”
3. Good friends and great conversation: Having a friend along for the
ride during a long drive can be an excellent bonding experience and can make
passing the time much more enjoyable. It’s no surprise that the same is true
for learning! By making use of learning communities, cohorts, social learning, discussion boards, and
more, learners can form meaningful relationships and truly learn from one
another. Boost engagement and retention by giving learners the opportunity to
demonstrate their expertise, ask questions when needed, and reflect on the
content by engaging in natural social behavior.
4. Souvenirs: Chances are that somewhere in your house you have a memento
from a trip, such as a t-shirt or a snow globe to remind you of the experience.
Learning experiences may center around mental activities, but physical
take-aways such as participant guides, job aids, and other resources give
learners something to refer to at later dates and help with the recall of
important information as they advance towards their final destination. Don’t
expect your learners to memorize every fine point, and make sure to assist them
with helpful guides (or souvenirs of their learning experience) that they can
reference when needed.
5. A killer soundtrack: Popular streaming services feature
road trip playlists, and learning experience platforms provide a similar
service by presenting a variety of modalities to keep learners interested and
engaged. Create immersive learning experiences by making use of podcasts,
videos, articles, even songs, alongside more traditional assets such as
eLearning courses. Engage their senses and open their minds to delightful
learning experiences that aren’t limited to just text and lecture.
6. Unforgettable stops along the way: Most road trips include at least one
major highlight, such as a national park. Consider your formal learning assets
to be the unforgettable stops in your learners’ journeys. You may never forget
gazing at the stars under a clear sky, and a beautifully-crafted, informative
course can be just as impactful when it illuminates a learning journey. Create
capstone moments for your learners that will be worth writing home about.
7. A warm welcome when you finally get there: Imagine your loved ones
standing on the front porch waving as you arrive at your final destination,
then create a similar warm, fuzzy feeling when your learners complete the
journeys you have designed. Whether this includes placing them on leaderboards,
awarding certificates of completion, or entering them into alumni cohorts where
they can guide future learners, celebrate your learners’ accomplishments in a
way that will be meaningful to them.
In order to have a lasting impact, it’s important to think about the experience you want learners to have as you take them where they need to go. By engaging their hearts and minds, you’re not only designing more enjoyable learning experiences; you will also positively impact their retention of the content and, ultimately, improve their performance on the job. Draw inspiration from other highly motivating, rewarding experiences in life such as travel, and create similarly life-changing experiences for your learners. They deserve nothing less.
Remember, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.