I’m sure you’re all familiar with the story of Alice in wonderland, in which Alice enters the forest and asks the cat which way she needs to go. The cat replies saying it depends a good deal on where Alice wants to arrive at. To that Alice responds by saying she doesn’t care much where to go. The cat, in turn, replies that it doesn’t matter then which way she takes. What do you learn from this story? We learn that you need to begin with the end in mind – you need to know what you want to achieve to be able to make the right beginning. In the context of eLearning too, it is important to set your learning objectives in advance so as to achieve the end results for which you are developing the eLearning.
Here is a typical requirement with which our customers come to us. They want sales training for their telesales representatives. As was the case with the Alice, they have no idea which direction they should be heading. This is because they do not identify the specific objectives of the training program they want us to create.
So where do we begin? The first step of course, is the training needs analysis, followed by identifying objectives for the training. Once you have clarity on training needs and objectives, the content that would go into the training can be clearly mapped.
It is important to remember that objectives are always linked with business goals. For example, in this case the client’s end goal was to improve knowledge of the sales process among their sales people in order to increase their sales. If the learners followed the sales process and provided satisfactory customer assistance, they would naturally contribute towards growth in sales.
Here’s another scenario. Sounds familiar? Usually sales people are sent to training sessions, in which product features are covered in detail. At the end of the session, participants are overwhelmed with the information dump. This is because the objective for the training was not well defined. To maximize the benefits, this kind of product training for sales people ideally should include the following:
- Overall place of the product in the portfolio of existing products
- Product features of their own product versus those of competitors
- Positioning of the product to show how it benefits the customers
It is therefore very important for instructional designers to understand the learning objectives to be able to design effective instructional material. In the event when the client does not seem to express learning objectives clearly, the onus is on the instructional designers to probe and learn what the client wishes to accomplish with the training program and arrive at learning objectives. This ensures better ROI for the client where he gets what he expects to achieve from the training program.