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The E-coach Blog
By Alison Bickford on August 25, 2012
Last week on the Connect Thinking blog I wrote an article Compliance E-Learning Alone Will Not Make an Ethical Culture. I discussed the over-reliance of compliance e-learning as the solution to addressing organisational ethics. I also brought into question the authoritarian nature of the instructional design approach of many of the compliance e-learning I see.
Here are my top tips when designing compliance e-learning.
1. Remember your audience are adults – don’t insult them
Interactivity such as ‘move the smartphone (illustration) across the page to reveal the IT risks’ may be clever Flash coding but is not good e-learning design for smart, busy people.
Use real life, stretch scenarios to help adults to explore their biases and judgement.
2. If conversation is important to your culture, then instill conversation in your e-learn
How ironic that we try to elicit an ethical, inclusive culture with self-directed e-learning courseware!
Find ways to ensure managers talk with staff before and after they have completed the e-learn. Use videos to illustrate the attitude of ‘real people’ in your business. Provide information on how staff can explore the ethics of your culture.
3. A culture is made up of the stories and experiences of people - so give it to them
Illustrate the values of your organisation through stories, such articles from the media and videos of staff describing their experiences.
4. If all you want to do is ensure they have read the policy, then don’t develop an e-learn at all
Instead, spend time and money writing your policies well and getting a designer to format them well. Use plain language. Illustrate with pictures and case studies. Then, simply use an online assessment to test staff understanding of the policy.
5. Separate the role of the Subject Matter Expert from that of the e-learning designer
Subject Matter Experts love their subject. This often means they want to put everything into the e-learn. You need someone objective who can stand back and distill the 3 key messages. Succinct e-learning content is key to staff remembering what you want them to know.
6. No more than 10 minutes!
Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Don’t make the e-learn any longer than 10 minutes in duration. This is your best chance of having staff start the course with a positive, receptive attitude. If it doesn’t cover everything, then create a series of 10 minute e-learns and release them every couple of months.
7. Never develop your e-learn in isolation
Your compliance e-learn should be only one aspect of a range of cultural initiatives that are ongoing. Use Corporate Comms to integrate messages and visuals across the organisation.
Got any other tips? I’d love to read them. Please leave a comment.
By Alison Bickford on August 5, 2012
Last week I write about factors affecting the adoption of non-mandatory e-learning, and made a comment that whether or not your e-learning will be mandatory (i.e. compulsory for staff to complete) will affect your instructional design approach. Today I’ll address this comment.
First of all, let me explain this post is only addressing differences in the instructional design of mandatory and non-mandatory e-learning courseware. It will not address other types of e-learning.
Okay, let’s create some context by looking at some typical examples of mandatory and non-mandatory e-learning.
Examples include HR policy and safety procedures. The intention of mandatory e-learning is to push information out to staff. Completion is tracked, and consequences ensue if staff don’t complete the e-learning.
Examples include operational skills such as project management, and software skills such as Excel. The intention of non-mandatory e-learning is to provide staff development; an opportunity for staff to pull the information they need.
Below is a list of common differences in the instructional design of mandatory and non-mandatory e-learning:
Returning to last week’s post, if you are about to develop e-learning courseware to inform staff of operational procedures or processes, be sure to keep the menu headings simple and explicit, and keep the navigation free to enable learners to explore.
By Alison Bickford on January 4, 2012
One of the challenges of having e-learning live on the LMS is course review and maintenance. I call this the “Sustain” phase of the ADDIES model.
Often compliance-related courses and technical courses are originally sponsored by subject matter experts (SMEs). The e-learning development is commonly centralised through the Learning and Development (L&D) e-learning team who may or may not work with an external e-learning provider to have the course built.
The input of the SME is critical to the accuracy of the content, as well as the holistic ‘grass-roots’ strategy of ensuring staff are across the content (i.e. the SME is typically responsible for e-learning content, intranet content, policy, brochures and posters, workplace assessment and face to face training).
The input of the e-learning team is critical to ensure instructional approaches, learning objectives and assessment, testing, evaluation and overall project management of the e-learning course is sound.
The e-learning team will usually monitor course usage and user feedback and report the status to the SME. But the e-learning team are not subject experts, and so sustaining the course is typically the responsibility of the SME.
Amongst other things, “Sustain” is about ensuring the course content is up-to-date and accurate. It’s about ensuring the URLs are live. The SME must take responsibility to communicate timeframes to the e-learning team if a change to policy or legislation is expected. From here, a plan can be made between the e-learning team and the SME to update the course. This is a good time to include the feedback of the current course, so that the update can address both content and usability/user acceptance issues.
Below I have created a general list of tasks of a typical ADDIES lifecycle of a policy or technical-related e-learning course (click to enlarge the image). Allocate responsibilities to match your organisation’s preference for doing things. Of course, shared responsibility and partnership is ideal. However, principal responsibility for each task should be agreed at the start of an e-learning project.
If you are a member of the Connect Thinking E-Learning Academy, this table is available to you under the Resources tab, in an editable Word format, along with a host of other e-learning project tools and process documents.
By Alison Bickford on October 8, 2011
A question from a client in organisational learning:
How long will it take to develop an e-learning course with an external e-learning developer?
Well, my first reaction to this question is “how long is a piece of string?”, but that’s not a very helpful response. So, let me try and put some certainty into this response.
In my experience, a 30 minute module of policy-type content (e.g. EEO, OHS) will take about 3 months to develop. This time varies depending on:
- How ‘clean’ the content is when the content is handed to the e-learning developer i.e. whether you have already done some work on content inclusions/exclusions, assessment etc.
- How interactive you want the e-learning course to be.
- Whether the e-learning developer has developed content for this topic before.
- Whether the e-learning developer knows your organisation and/or your industry.
- Whether the e-learning provider has enough staff to cover your e-learning development, should a project team member leave (the e-learning fraternity is very transient).
- How experienced you are internally in project managing e-learning development.
- How experienced you are with your LMS i.e. how much certainty do you have that various authoring tools and assessment types track properly on your LMS.
- How quickly you can get sign off on each milestone.
What are e-learning development milestones?
Typically the e-learning developer will provide you with a project plan that highlights milestones where the client is responsible for sign-off. This provides certainty to the e-learning developer trying to mitigate re-writes and re-development. Milestones commonly occur at:
- Design plan – a high level agreement on how the e-learning will be treated from a design/navigation perspective.
- Storyboard completion – the client is expected to interpret the storyboard correctly and agree that it is correct prior to authoring.
- “Gold” - this term refers to course completion. There are no errors, mistakes or functional issues remaining.
For good measure, it’s useful to have a number of other, perhaps less formal sign-offs such as script, graphics etc. Be sure to keep emails as proof of various decisions you make along the way.
Milestones usually signal payment e.g. 20% : 40% :40%
A word of warning
Delay in sign-off on the client side costs the e-learning developer money. Some developers charge a penalty for late sign-off as agreed in the original project plan. If you know your organisation is often late at signing off projects, then ensure the project plan reflects adequate time on your side. e.g. a typical e-learning developer project allows 3-5 days for client sign-off. If you need to engage a lot of stakeholders for sign-off internally, you may need to request a 10 day turnaround.
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