Pop quiz: What was the last training program or course you completed as a learner? Can you recall anything more specific than the general topic, such as a learning objective or intended outcome? Have you been able to apply the content on the job?
If you struggled to answer these questions, do you think the last learner who completed a course you created would feel similarly?
As a learning professional, our mission is to build effective learning solutions. We want our content to be engaging, relevant to our learners, and impactful to their performance on the job. The process to create effective programs may be easier than you think. Read the list below of quick L&D wins that you can immediately put into practice.
Quick Wins to Build an Effective Learning Solution
1. Include learners in the design process
Most training programs exist because an organization’s leader or business stakeholder identified a training need (or what they perceive to be a training need). They likely approached you with their request, and you got to work interviewing subject matter experts (SMEs) and assembling content from pre-existing resources such as presentation decks.
In this process of meeting business stakeholders’ requests, at any point did you consider the needs of your ultimate stakeholders: the learners themselves? If not, before you begin your next problem, work to create a more effective learning solution by consulting with actual learners throughout your design process.
Learners’ preferences and learners’ needs can be easily discovered through methods such as focus groups or surveys. Once you understand who they are as people, you can document your findings in resources such as empathy maps and learner persona descriptions. Consider naming your sample persona, keeping that individual in mind as you create content. The next time you hear a SME say, “They just really need to know this information,” ask yourself questions such as, “How will this information help Laura the learner on the job?” and “How motivated is Laura to complete this training?” Want more tips on engaging learners? Check out this guide.
2. Use diagnostics and assessments to tailor learning
How well do shirts marked “one size fits all” really fit you? Similarly, do all learning solutions meet your unique needs? Training is often designed to fit the needs of large, diverse audiences. These target groups include enthusiastic and apathetic beginners and experts. Given the range of interest and experiences, every individual would most benefit from more personalized approaches to meet their unique needs.
Utilizing user sub-groups, data, and assessments, you can customize their experience, create unique learning paths, and streamline their eLearning, increasing efficiency and saving time. Learners could even have the opportunity to test out of training, saving time and resources. Respect your learners’ time and their pre-existing knowledge by presenting them with learning solutions that are tailored to their needs.
3. Include opportunities for collaboration
Humans are social creatures. By integrating social elements into learning, we can increase engagement among all users. If you’ve ever caught yourself checking social media during a training class or while you’re on the job, pause for a moment and reflect on why you felt the need to do so. Now harness your learners’ need for social engagement by creating opportunities for them to collaborate and learn from one another in the next training program you design!
Examples of social learning can include gamification, often made possible by the use of leader boards recognizing top performers. Other elements can include polls and discussion forums, where learners can share their thoughts and reactions, and simply chat with one another about the content of the course. Social learning comes naturally to people, and is one key ingredient in how to create an effective training program.
4. Curate additional resources
Content curation in learning solutions is the act of including external content in your programs, such as TED talks, Coursera courses, industry articles, podcasts, and more. Your training program may be limited to your SMEs’ expertise, or to the amount of time you had to produce content, but by opening your program to curated external sources, the options are unlimited!
Using curated content saves time, money, and allows external SMEs to lend their expertise to your training programs. These diverse sources can be woven together alongside the unique content that you create, and will provide your learners with a rich experience that makes use of numerous sources of information and perspectives.
These recommended approaches provide straightforward solutions for more effective learning experiences. Recognizing learners’ experiences and preferences is a great way to begin, so that all subsequent decisions align with their true needs. Once you have a solid understanding of who your learners are, informed by data about their preferences and habits, you will possess the information needed to craft learning experiences that will meet both their goals and the goals of your organization. As you begin designing content, actively seek out opportunities for your learners to socialize with one another. Giving them the ability to discuss the content will help them to reflect on it, ask any questions they have, and to coach others. This active learning will correspond to high engagement, high retention, and ultimately, to high levels of performance on the job. Last, make use of curated content to enrich your programs with multimedia resources from diverse sources. Creating effective learning content does not have to be a challenge, as long as you take intentional steps to create high impact programs for high impact performance.