Very often, organizations find that there are no takers for their eLearning courses. Why? We need to first understand who the target users of eLearning courses are. We called them trainees, learners, and end-users – all these terms indicate receptors of information, knowledge or skills. It means there is a giver of knowledge and a receptor of knowledge. The giver of knowledge is calling the shots. This is something like the sellers’ market in the early industrial age. Markets have witnessed changes, since then, and the same is true for the learning and training domain as well. We need to re-look at the way we see our learners. They are no longer at the mercy of their trainer. They have a variety of options before them to gain knowledge. So, how do you ensure they buy your eLearning courses (buy in the sense not literally, but investing time to complete your eLearning courses)?
I was reading an article titled, ‘Millearnnial Employees’ in the latest edition of the Elearning Magazine, where author Linda Galloway makes an interesting point. She says employees, while not in office, are used to getting instant information when they need it. They search online for good deals when looking to purchase something, sell their used gadgets online, or compare prices, hotels, holiday packages and more. All they need is a smartphone and they are good to go.
So, for someone who is used to such flexibility, just-in-time and just when needed type of information, it is but natural that they expect similar services even in the context of corporate learning. Linda Galloway uses the term “Learning Consumers”, which I thought is quite apt. We need to consider learners as consumers of knowledge. They will buy it if they like it and shun it if they don’t. So, if we really solicit their engagement, we need to treat them the same way as any organization tries to engage their customers.
Some of the aspects that Linda feels modern learners expect in their training are:
- small chunks of information
- variety in terms of resources
- information on demand
- flexibility in access
- Instant results
Inspired by the article, here are some ideas that might help overcome possible learner disengagement in eLearning courses.
- Break down learning units into small modules that do not demand a big block of the learner’s time. That way, your learners can squeeze in the learning even when they have a small time frame.
- Supplement eLearning courses with resources that can work as job aids or a library of resources. Present the knowledge in multiple formats – videos, audio and eBooks, so that they pick up the format that works for them at that point of time.
- Divide content in a format that learners can access according to their requirement in various instances. For example, a sales person might like content buyer personas, key product features, selling tips for a particular product, etc.
- Make it easy for them to access the course. Allow them to access it through their laptops, desktop computers, smartphones or iPads. Make sure though they start their course at work on their desktops/laptops, they can still complete it using either their smartphones or ipads elsewhere (waiting at the airport or while travelling in a train).
- Ensure that when the learner has a doubt or needs to clarify something, there is someone, someone who can address his query and provide an instant response. It could be support in terms of access to LMS or it could be a query with respect to the content of your course. Having a good support system encourages learners to engage with the medium better.
Learners are indeed our customers and we need to take care of their preferences. I tend to agree with what Linda suggests in the article. We should treat our learners as learning consumers and present the product (i.e. learning units) in a format that appeals to them, at a location that makes it easily accessible. Please do share your comments.