In 2018, learning experiences will need to evolve to keep pace with the way learners consume content. The trend to build core learning experiences that are engaging and both easy to transfer and transmit will only continue to accelerate in 2018.
Never before learners been so screen savvy and able to perceive fake content, workflows, and useless scenarios that were programmatically easy to create. If the creation of materials followed a basic process, the end result will reflect that. But going beyond responsive learning trends inevitably means handing over control of the course, and medium with which it’s delivered, directly to the learner. No longer can we expect a learning experience to adequately engage without giving the learner some measure of control.
Hand over the tiller!
In sailing, one of the common cures to seasickness is allowing the person to steer. Steering the boat forces focus and concentration, and participation means control. The perception of having control of the situation allows the person to anticipate movement and motion, and adapt their movement to the motion around them.
In learning, giving a person the ability to control the experience, allows their energies to provide greater focus on the content. Too often, learning development seeks to compel, assess, and control the experience to a measured result – you cannot progress until you watch this; you cannot continue until you answer this – while progress and navigation are hidden until compliance. Today, a passive learner has too many avenues to distraction.
What is the harm of allowing a user to browse through the content quickly and go back or giving the user time to access content when it is convenient and allowing them to come back? There are certainly times where compliance and testing is needed, but too often on core concepts, values, and other development training, elements of assessment and compliance become a hindrance to learning.
While removing stop gates and other hindrances to progress, it is important to provide variables that allow the learner to customize their experience. Whether novice or native, allow the learner to self-identify the skills and outcomes they need from the learning, and then drive to those results.
Change the medium
Your content is everything! We should evaluate the best way for the learner to experience your content, and then figure out a way to measure the impact or result. Learning experiences that really engage the learner will need to go far beyond just the shape of the screen and into new mediums. By handing over control of learning, you allow the learner to change the medium: consider podcasts on a phone while commuting and interactive practice sessions with a voice-controlled device.
Handing over control means that learning is no longer about responsiveness, but about the result. Training and learning need to be about offering the right technologies in the right setting, and we need to find the medium that best conveys the content. If collaborative learning is the best way to convey a topic, then leave LMS behind and find a way to measure impact and results, and track as needed from a social channel. Or if face-to-face is the best way to go, then create a board game that conveys learning and gets them in a room, together.
Always on or always off?
For many years, the challenge and opportunity in learning has been to create a manageable offline learning experience by providing the convenience to access learning when wifi and connectivity is unreliable.
But what if building learning around an offline experience limits the possibilities when you are online? For starters, an online experience can leverage and integrate social channels. Being online ensures updates are sent and courses are always current. If you worry that your learner will be distracted by being online, then integrate the opportunity for them to answer using outside sources.
It’s time for learning content to surpass technology.
In 2017, Grant Dalton, Crew Chief of Emirates Team New Zealand, pushed a crew of sailors, builders, and designers to, “Throw the ball out as far as they could and then do whatever it took to reach it.” His team was out-spent, out-resourced, and out-cast, but managed to successfully out-innovate the deeply resourced defender Team Oracle to win the America’s Cup. They developed a pedaling, flying machine that touched the water while the other teams were still grinding at the sails.
Incremental learning improvements, using existing tools, followed by step-by-step processes in portrait or landscape view on a tablet, phone or laptop, will create incremental learning in an organization. What are the limits to which your learners can be extended? How far can learning throw the ball for your organization?
SmarterMedium has continuously reinvented the medium to deliver fast and efficient learning experiences. In the PerStart platform, we allow the learner to self-identify their role, their interests, and their learning needs. The onboarding course is designed in topics that can be taken in the time allowed. These selections are used to customize the experience throughout the course. Assessment questions have been changed to knowledge checks to allow the learner to explore both correct and incorrect responses. Social channels are directly integrated into the course. What will be your first voice app experience? Our first Alexa app is underway…
A version of this post was published on eLearning Industry on February 1st 2018.