June 20th, 2012 E-Learning

With so much emphasis being placed on social learning today, it makes me wonder if we are forgetting about the other end of the spectrum. For lack of a better word, “autonomous” learning is arguably more prevalent in a corporate setting than social learning – so what are we doing as instructional designers to enhance the experience and effectiveness?

In many cases, a company will put out new procedures, processes, and tools – and then require their employees to take the training via role mapping in an LMS. More often than not, this type of training is taken alone, online, and off hours. How can we ensure that the training is engaging? More importantly, how can we increase the chances that the training is taken?

A simple strategy to increase engagement is to insert various interaction points required by the participant. However, make sure that these interactions provide value to the content. Nothing is more frustrating than being quizzed for the sake of quizzing.

Remember those old books that let you decide how a story would continue? At the end of the page there would be a decision point where you could decide to “go to page X or page Y”, depending on how you wanted the story to progress.

Incorporating various branching scenarios (lots of them) into training will give the user a sense of control in regards to their learning experience, similar to those old books – “opening” the learning experience. Including multiple ways for a participant to learn the information makes the training appear more customized, which is refreshing given the overuse of the mandated “one-size-fits-all” approach. In essence, making an effort to create training with a spider web instead of a (linear) tunnel opens up a lot of exciting possibilities and avenues.

There are many other strategies to enhance autonomous learning. No matter what method you choose, just make sure that it is adding value to the content at hand – and also ensure that it is appropriate for the course. Let’s face it, not every training course is suitable for all the bells and whistles available.

How about you, what strategies do you do to freshen up your “autonomous” learning?

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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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I love seeing people who look for the big picture and realize that it is a giant jigsaw puzzle. Most trainers seem to be content finding most of the flat edged pieces; others discover no more than the four corner pieces. While I was in the Air Force (thru 1984) we were developing Career Ladder Training Plans to prescribe training requirements from induction to retirement. But even then we knew that 70% accountability might be the ceiling. Good luck in your work.

Sam Bulmer
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