How to Make Your e-Learning Effective

E-learnings are popular: The market of e-learnings is growing by 1.1 billion euros, acoording to the e-learning monitor from Multiscope. According to the survey, 6 percent of the respondents would like to complete an online course of some kind within one year. This does not come as a surprise: E-learnings are a great way to improve oneself. And development is necessary in a constantly changing world. However, this also means that e-learnings need to be effective and meet the needs of people who want to improve.


Many e-learnings contain an overload of information. Lots of text makes them more complicated than they need to be and relatively long. For many people, that's a reason to drop out. After all, they expect e-learnings to be an easy and fast way to learn more about the subject. Once participants loose attention, they quit the e-learning without finishing. Therefore, the purpose and focus of an successful e-learning should be to ensure that information and instructions lingers with the audience.


Especially for a company undergoing some major changes, e-learnings can be a perfect way to communicate with employees. The e-learning ensures that employees get insights and learn how the upcoming change will affect their daily business. Also, they see how they can contribute to make the change more effective. Once they understand the change, they will be able to reproduce the information at a later moment in time and can spread the message across the company. After all, ambassadors are the best marketing you can have.


Just one e-mail to the entire company is not enough anymore to communicate a new policy. 


Nowadays, getting away with sending just one short e-mail or posting a message on the intranet when announcing a major change is not possible anymore. The increasing percentage of employees from younger generations, who have been growing up with change and are used to individual, taylor-made information needs a different approach. Today, the means of internal communication have to surprise the target audience to be processed quickly and efficiently. If your target group needs a creative, innovative and relevant approach, you need to communicate accordingly.


The key question therefore is: How can I optimize an e-learning to make it as effective as possible? The short answer is: You can do so by shifting your focus from just distributing information to responding to the needs of your target group.


1. Define the Right Goal

Before developing a new e-learning, you should always ask yourself if an e-learning is really the thing your employees need. Will it help them to succeed in their daily job? Often, we see that companies have the wrong expectations, for example when communicating a major change in policy or strategy. An e-learning should rather be a test for the employees than only transfer as much information as possible. Include a quiz to measure if the information has been processed successfully and to create understanding. Also, after having taken the quiz, the likeliness of the employee being able to apply the information in his or her daily job increases. 


2. The Importance of Visual Storytelling

Bringing across information is one thing, telling a story is another. Stories are often way more relatable, and telling a story visually gives a subject the content employees need to understand and apply the information in real life. With visual storytelling, you help your employees to link the information from the e-learning to a certain situation. This increases the chance of employees actually remembering what they learned on the long term significantly. So add some images to your e-learning and you got yourself some visual storytelling!


Maybe it seems like we are dwelling on this, but storytelling really is better than just communicating some bare facts. Humans remember stories in a special way, that's just how our brains work. We store things that happen in our life as episodic memories. Think of a special moment or day in your life, and you will remember it pretty detailed - thanks to that memory. The same mechanism is also used when we hear stories.


Save Time with Visual Storytelling

This might sound odd at first, but by adding a visual aspect to your time, you can actually save time. You can for example sketch a situation without using a single spoken or written word for it. In one glance, the situation becomes clear to the viewer, including the emotional charge of the situation. Explaining all these details in words takes way more time. Also, seeing images and stories makes us process information faster. Dropping the text gives your target audience more room to process more information in a shorter period of time.


And then there is one last argument to use visual storytelling: When linking certain information to images, the human brain creates a connection between these two things. This connection ensures that we recognise the information the next time we see it. When using visual storytelling in your e-learning, you can make sure your employee is able to reproduce the information and use it in his or her daily business.

3. Creating Relevance

As said before, the goal of an e-learning should always be that the target audience actually remembers the information. Next to making the topic comprehensible for the employee, it is therefore important to create relevance. Think of the implementation of a new software. It's not only important to explain how to use it, but also why to use it. Don't try to communicate all the information at once when it's too complex and can cause the target audience to drop out of the e-learning.


Our Working Memory is Limited

Obviously, human beings have a limited working memory and therefore cannot process too much information at the same time. This is why you should never store way too much information in one e-learning. If you want the information to stick, drop the complicated wording and entire Excel sheets of data. Try to see it from the perspective of your employees: Do they really need all that information? Do they need to get all the information at the same time? Do they recognise the situation in which they will need to apply the information they receive?


Use the following elementsto make your e-learning and message relevant for your target audience:


Surprise: Use elements that your employees don't expect, for example humor.
Make it important: Information that has a direct impact on the work and daily activities of your employees will be remembered easier than abstract information.
Create recognisability: Unfamiliar jargon or fuzzy information will not be remembered. Go for recognisability instead.


4. Choose the Right Construction

It should be clear from the beginning what the employee can expect from the e-learning. State what problem the course will deal with and respond to the employees' needs: What information do they need to actually solve the problem? In a change process, ask yourself this question: What behavioural change is needed to achieve the ultimate goal of a successful change process? Use the following stepsto create your e-learning: 


Know your context: What is the problem your e-learning is dealing with and why is it a problem?
Create understanding: What is the solution and what does that mean for your employees?
Describe behavioural change: Which instructions do your employees need and how should they put the learned information into practice?


We suggest to build your e-learning around the theory of Simon Sinek: Start with Why. But give it a small twist and answer the following questions: Why? What? How? Start with the why-question, and help your employees to understand why the change in question is important or necessary. Then go into explaining what this means for the target audience. Zoom into their daily activities and explain in detail. Finally, you should anser the how-question: How should your employees implement the change in their jobs to make it successful?


Creating an Efficient E-learning

When applying the steps we described above, you help your employees to complete your e-learnings successfully. And not only will they finish the course, but they will also be able to apply the communicated information more easily in their daily work. If there are any take aways from research, then that with improved e-learnings you'll motivate even more people to complete them. Clear structure, good examples, visual storytelling and relevant information are key. And they will help you to get your message across succesfully!

Curious about how we can help you develope and shape your e-learning? Please contact one of our account managers!

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