A Learner's Perspective on the Best eLearning - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.




The question I pose to you is not whether eLearning will be of value to your business, it’s “How will you have confidence that the eLearning you deliver is effective for your learner?”
So what makes the best eLearning? More importantly, what can you do in your eLearning solution to captivate and engage?

I have recently joined the team at Belvista Studios and have been dedicating my time to learning everything there is about eLearning. I would love to share with you what I have experienced in “eLearning that creates interest, fun and supports learning” in the best way possible. When eLearning is done right, magic can happen! I look forward to sharing with you my experiences of ‘eLearning magic’ but first we must face the bad and the ugly.

The Bad & the Ugly!
I have first-hand experience in completing eLearning modules in which I struggled to keep awake (let alone assist me in learning anything!). I impatiently wait until the laborious voiceover restraining my progress is finished and quickly click the ‘next’ button on each screen. My aim in the module is not to retain any information but to click through the pages as quickly as humanly possible (the quicker this module is over the better!). Once I receive my completion certificate I can go on with my normal life, the learnings nothing but a blur as they flashed by each screen (thanks to the handy ‘next’ button). If eLearning is not created in an effective way, it can be extremely boring; you may have even experienced this yourself!

The bad and the ugly. What makes this any different to using Google to find the information (plus Google’s free)?

I can recall sitting at my desk and receiving a call from a colleague in the organisation I worked for. Her first words were, “How many more of these eLearning courses do I need to do? They are so boring.” Disappointment overwhelmed me as I realised that the courses that we were offering were not having the required impact on our learners. Think of the typical PowerPoint presentation, repetitive slides and bullet points, often a “crutch” used to cover ineffective presentations. I had to confront the truth… poorly produced eLearning can become pretty dull (Ferriman, 2014) and the chances of the learner retaining any of the information are slim, and I won’t even go into the failure to achieve the behaviour change the training is intended to improve.

The Good!
One day I received an email from a colleague, “Check this out - can we create something like this?”. The email had a link to an eLearning course (sharing is caring...click here and check it out!). I clicked into the link and up popped a lifelike screen, which instantly caught my attention. The module was presenting real life scenarios and allowing me to make choices and decisions throughout various situations, it was a challenge and all I could think was “challenge accepted!”. At the end of the course I couldn’t help but show my team mates immediately. It was a fun experience and the feelings of excitement and competitiveness took me back to my childhood days of playing Mario Kart against any willing competitors in my house. I knew my colleagues would be impressed and I just had to show them. About 10 minutes later the whole team was completing the eLearning. Scores were compared and the decisions we made were discussed. We were all engaged in this fantastic eLearning example and little did we know that we were actually learning!
The good. Decision based learning. Well done Rapt Media and Deloitte.

Human Motivators
This brings me to the importance of the human dimension of learning. What motivates us as human beings? Instructional designers need to think about how humans operate and engage in the world around them. This is how Facebook and Google are so successful – they think like the user, eLearning needs to think this way too.  If eLearning is designed in a way that taps into our motivational drives as humans, then magic can occur. Check out some of the tips below on making eLearning an amazing and engaging learning tool from a learner’s perspective - mine.
1.    Grab the Learner’s Attention
Grabbing the learner’s attention at the beginning of the module is ESSENTIAL to engaging and motivating the learner (Gagnes, 1992). Check out the below example to inspire you:
·     Diabesity
2.    Present the Content in a Creative Way!
Learners are busy. We have so much going on in life that it is hard to compete for our attention. eLearning must stand out and compete too. Here are some ways that you can design your eLearning in a way that connects with a learner’s motivation.
·     Gamification: Turn the eLearning into a game by incorporating challenges, rewards, an opportunity for the learner to achieve/win (humans love the taste of winning) and other gaming elements. “Competition remains a powerful instinctual drive in human nature” (LabTimes, 2008).
Points, badges, levels and leaderboards.

·     Interactive Video: Interactivity is vitally important in eLearning. You can add interactivity to your video by allowing learners to make a decision and change the course of the module. Regardless of the use of video, 60% of your learning should be decisions or actions for your learners to make.

·     Storytelling: Share the course content in the format of a story that your learner can relate to. Remember those adult learning principles.
Don’t send your learners into a deep slumber - stop and consider what is possible (there is great eLearning out there!). Personally, as a learner, to gain my engagement and buy-in, the module needs to capture my attention, incorporate a challenge of some form (gamification, interactive video or quiz) and lastly, require me to make a decision that requires critical thinking (give me a challenge or my attention is gone!). These simple additions can lead to a fun and engaging experience where I will often not realise that I am learning in the process (cool right!?).

Are you feeling inspiration as you ponder the opportunities that eLearning can offer? At Belvista Studios we commit to create and deliver interactive and engaging eLearning. If you have been inspired and would like to co-create something great with us contact kim@belvistastudios.com or check out our website by visiting www.belvistastudios.com. We would also love to hear about your experiences of eLearning and the insights you have had. Share via the comment box below!

References – Thank you to all the inspiration out there that allows us to inspire in our solutions.
Articulatecom. (2016). E-Learning Heroes. Retrieved 24 October, 2016, from https://community.articulate.com/articles/diabesity
Ferriman, J.F. (2014). The Good (and Bad) of eLearning. Retrieved 23 October 2016, from https://www.learndash.com/the-good-and-bad-of-elearning/
Gagnes, R.G. (1992). Principles of Instructional Design. New York.
Labtimes. (2008). Humans are competitive beings. Labtimes Editorial , 6(6), 3.
Raptmediacom. (2016). Rapt Media. Retrieved 24 October, 2016, from http://www.raptmedia.com/project/deloitte

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