June 2nd, 2013 E-Learning

make-it-stickAs many instructional designers know, there are countless hours put into making a well made elearning course.  Everything from storyboarding, drafts, re-writes, mock-trials, imaging, and so on.  In the end though, the most important thing is that the learning sticks – that the learners walk away with a solid understanding of the main objectives.

There have been many theories on how to get learning to stick, all of which are valid enough in their own way.  If you’re looking for strategies to increase the effectiveness of your elearning, consider the following five strategies:

1. WIIFM: The classic “WIIFM” (or, What’s-In-It-For-Me) is the easiest way to make your learning more effective.  You have to convey to participants how the information that they are about to receive is relevant to them and their situation. If you don’t create this connection up front, there will be reluctance from participants to change.  Try to include egocentric games to help in this area.

2. Practice Time: Just delivering training is simply not enough, you have to give participants time to reflect, and apply, the information. Without practice exercises as well as real-life application, the participants will ultimately forget the learning.

3. Share the (Knowledge) Wealth: Find a way to enable your users to share and participate in the learning.  Allowing for comments on the material, forums, sharing of personal experiences, are all acceptable ways to further involve the learner into the material. In the end, you’ll have an extremely valuable repository that others can learn from as well.

4. Break Through Change Barriers: Everyone hates change, and in most cases participants will not embrace change until they have worked through why it is good for them on a personal level (see item #1). You should try to create personal goals to maintain the desired behavior change. Creating an online community, application opportunities, and additional projects provides the groundwork that enables behavioral change.

5. Deliver in Portions: Learning is best received when it is able to be received in portions. Deliver your training in small chunks, and deliver this content on a set schedule if possible.  Creating a ritual of learning conditions people to become more receptive to the content.  So if you have a lot of elearning content to deliver, consider breaking it up into standalone modules delivered at various time points.


Bloomfire & Heart+Brain

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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter


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Justin I like your five points. Too often we focus on technology and not enough on people when considering these matters – you haven’t made that mistake. I would only query one thing – you say “everyone hates change”. If that were so, we’d never get married, have children, move to new jobs or succeed at anything, People are very happy with change when it helps them reach a goal and that’s the key thing – really sticky learning helps people get to where they have decided where they really want to go

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