Horses for the Courses – Choosing the right instructional design strategy for eLearning

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The way learning happens has transformed across sectors and geographies. So how well are you able to adapt?

The purpose of learning is to Assimilate -> Apply -> Achieve.

For years, the 70-20-10 model has been commonly used for learning and development. The model, which was conceptualized in the 1980s by the Center for Creative Leadership, outlines the optimum split in learning consumption. It suggests that people can gain skills, knowledge, and abilities in their work roles through:

  • On the job experience – 70%
  • Learning from others – 20%
  • Formal training – 10%

Based on observations, on-the-job experience (70%) has been the most effective for employees. This more hands-on approach enables employees to adapt what they already know, adjust and learn from challenges, figure out solutions, make informed decisions, and have better interactions with colleagues. This leads to the second biggest factor which is learning from others (20%). Receiving feedback, along with mentoring and collaborative learning has a significant effect on how people learn at work. Last is formal training (10%) which includes workshops, webinars, online learning portals, and eLearning platforms.

However, people are now shifting towards the 55-25-20 blended learning model, which is comprised of the following:

  • On the job experience – 55%
  • Learning from others – 25%
  • Formal Learning – 20%

With social and other modes of learning now having a significant contribution to the learning pie, it is imperative to select the right approaches for content design to achieve the intended learning purpose.

In designing your eLearning content, here are important factors to consider:

  • Target learners – what’s their age range, how comfortable are they in using the computer, what’s their cultural background
  • Topic – keep in mind that subjects can be taught in different ways
  • Learning environment – will it be on a desktop device or mobile device, will it be with peers or done in self-paced mode, will there be limitations based on the learning platform they use.

Once you have identified these, here are some common instructional design (ID) strategies, which you can use:

  • Microlearning – this learning strategy features smaller, more focused learning segments, which are designed to satisfy specific learning goals. It is an effective way to absorb knowledge without overwhelming learners, enabling them to have better recall and ultimately, be able to retain the new knowledge and skills acquired. Another advantage of microlearning is that it is very accessible. People can access it even through their mobile phones, enabling them to find and use the information they need whenever, wherever. Keep the duration of each learning segment up to a maximum of 7 minutes and with a single, clear message. Different ways to present include interactive lessons, infographics, listicles, or a simple video. This strategy is a great support for formal training as it can help keep learners more engaged.
  • Performance support – this is an important learning strategy as you will be able to better assess the results of the training. Which areas have deficiencies, in which areas did employees do well and what can be done to further improve on the instructional design.
  • Scenario-based learning – one of the most popular ID strategies, this supports active learning strategies by making use of interactive scenarios which can be problem based or case based. Learners are asked to work through a storyline that revolves around a complex problem and figure out the solution through experience.
  • Gamified learning – another way to promote engagement in learning is to gamify education. Here, learners are able to learn new skills and gain knowledge while having fun through game based elements. By earning points, having healthy peer competition and promoting teamwork, it leads to better engagement as learners are able to make use of their new knowledge. They will also be able to quickly test how well they were able to retain and understand the new information they’ve been taught.

While you don’t need to spend so much on expensive technologies to create the best eLearning course, having the right strategy is crucial. This will be able to keep your employees engaged and help them gain better learning retention. Understanding the different instructional design strategies and tools available will help you choose which would fit your eLearning content best. This will give you assurance that your employees will be happy and your learning objectives will be met.