Lessons Learned: Designing e-Learning


By Holly MacDonald

I’m working with a client and we are developing an e-learning course using Articulate.  I am very impressed with many aspects of Articulate and the entire user community.  Here are some of the amazing things and some lessons that it teaches about learning:

Intuitive interface
I was able to use this software immediately and while my first product wasn’t pretty, it was functional and simple to produce.  I didn’t feel overwhelmed and that built confidence to try things out.  Lesson: Think about your learning situation and meet people in their zone of proximal development – which basically means not too hard and not too easy – design learning for them that doesn’t make them feel dumb, but not so challenging that they give up easily. 

Online Community
The online community is managed by folks who work for Articulate, but much of the activity is users who are asking questions, answering questions and sharing their templates, tricks, workarounds and ideas. Lesson: make it easy for your learners to interact with others – they will make their own learning better, but will also strengthen your organization. 

Anytime you tweet to the community via twitter, you get instant response and find other users to bounce ideas off of among many other things – it really amplies the social learning component. Lesson: Help people when they need it – invest in performance support that enable them to fix their problem, even if it is with peers or other employees.  You don’t have to staff a huge department or wrestle with the “to tweet or not to tweet” conundrum.  Just help your employees do their jobs.

Levels of Training
There are short bursts (screencasts) where a user shows you how to do something based on their screens, longer self-paced tutorials, DIY stuff, face to face opportunities to meet up and learn. Lesson: putting together a suite of support solutions will really help your learners help themselves.

Great blog posts that constantly keep things fresh arrive in my inbox so I don’t have to go looking for inspiration.  These posts tell me how to use the software to solve problems.  Save time, save energy, etc. Lesson: just because you build that fabulous wiki/portal/sharepoint site (whatever it is), doesn’t mean they’ll just come and use it.  Sometimes you have to push your learning to them.

Holly MacDonald is an independent consultant with well over 15 years of experience in the learning & development field.  Holly is a bit of a techno-geek and can often be found playing online.  When she steps away from her computer, she spends time outside: hiking, kayaking, gardening and of course walking the dog.  She lives on Saltspring Island and is a leader in the live/work revolution.

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