Prepare your eLearning for the future

Prepare your eLearning for the future

Our current ways of writing and producing training content in our traditional eLearning format is ill-prepared for the needs of the future.  Training producers focus on online training modules with text, graphics, some audio, and simple test questions, or slightly more involved with interactive video and simulations, but existing approaches aren’t sufficiently scalable or flexible.  eLearning or training developers need to produce growing quantities of increasingly specific content.  High volume training content requires too much human effort: the tedious crafting of generic text, and/or complicated planning that often provide inadequate flexibility. Training developers, using tools designed like Storyline or Captivate, lack a viable strategy for creating training that a multitude of users can use in new contexts, such as voice or messaging interfaces on mobile. It’s time to consider the context as a key audience segment, instead of as an incidental party.

Change with learners’ engagement

Training content needs to serve many functions.  It must provide coherent learning information as it always has done.  But it is also needed in short bursts as well.  Training content needs to be interactive: responding to learners’ requests, anticipating needs, updating in real time as circumstances change. In our new training landscape content needs to be updatable, inter responsive, interactive and updatable.  For our new learning landscape, training must be connected to logic, and gets involved and changed in the context in which it is used.

The notion of ever-changing training content seems fantastic — especially to authors accustomed to controlling each word as it appears in a text.  But words are really just a special form of data — meaningful data.  Computers can manipulate data in all manner of ways.

Content for human communication can be more complex that common computer data.  Existing data practices will contribute to the foundations of molecular content.  But they will need to be extended and enhanced to support the unique needs of words and writing. Training cannot evolve if solutions are too rigid, or too complex.  At the same time, training developers need to prepare for the possibility that the process of designing and developing eLearning ill fundamentally change.

The training process is limiting

The process of training development is already defined and rarely subject to analytic scrutiny.   We’re aware of the basic eLearning development process, but the process can be so iterative that we don’t notice separate steps. When training developers talk about process, they generally refer to stages of course development.

If we break down the typical eLearning development process, we see different activities:

  1. Discuss with subject matter expert (SME)
  2. Gather and organize content / Instructional Design (ID)
  3. Storyboard
  4. Develop the course
  5. Quality Assurance and Testing
  6. Publish and Deploy

One of the big unanswered questions about new learning content is how to create it.  Living content will likely require a new way of creating it. First, we need to examine the process of web writing.

Liberate your training content to see rewards

The new training content needs to be highly flexible in order to play well with the rest of the world. One can’t overstate the diversity that exists in our learners, our screens, and our interaction with them. Millions of individuals and organizations are trying to do any number of things as they develop new solutions. Our training must accommodate new platforms, syntaxes, channels, and architectures.

We need to let go of the hope that one training development tool can do everything

Tightly-coupled systems are seductive because they seem to offer everything you need in one place. This gives rise to training development hybrids like Storyline 360, which on the for-front should be everything that you will ever need. But your flexibility will be limited by what those tools allow you to do. It may seem convenient but content, structure and logic cannot live together in one place in this new world of learning.

New Training content requires a radical separation for the ridged modular structure that holds it together. The only way to create content that is genuinely future-ready is to remove structural dependencies that are specific to structural learning interaction, and engagement. The new training needs to be adaptable, where parties involved in the training can swap out different sub-processes as new needs and better approaches emerge.

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