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Engaging eLearning, the journey so far

Building storyboards, writing scripts, recording voiceovers, working with animators and music producers were never tasks I associated with Learning and Development when I kicked off my career.  Some years later, all of this activity regularly appears in my diary.  Actually, I quite like it too. 

It started some years ago when I first experienced eLearning which at the time was very much in its infancy.  Not the most pleasant learning experience but thinking back, it’s made me realise just how far the boundaries of eLearning have shifted.  It wasn’t sitting down at a computer for hours that was a problem.  It wasn’t the particular topics I was learning about either.  It was just something about the way it was delivered.  Page after page of text to read through with a multiple choice assessment after each course.  With a new baby in our family, I remember at one point barely keeping my eyes open as I continued through one particular eLearning course.  Fail an assessment once, and you had to do the whole lot again. 

Whilst I didn’t particularly enjoy my first experience of learning in this way, I recall seeing some value at the time.  The ability to quickly and more cost effectively reach the masses in a nationwide company along with the flexibility of 24/7 accessibility.  I remember thinking about the benefits to the learner who is able to pace themselves with the content.  Then there’s the automated reporting showing you who had completed what and when. 

The benefits that eLearning brought all seemed to line up and make good sense with the exception of just one thing.  The monotonous style of delivery?  We all know about the low percentage of stuff we retain that we read.  I just couldn’t allow myself to let the benefits of eLearning, no matter how grand, to compensate for the disregard of the findings of Edgar Dale and his Cone of Experience.  The whole production of eLearning needed shifting up a gear.  Quite a few gears in fact.  There had to be a better way and I made it my mission to find it.  My desire to work with eLearning was born out of my passion to make it so much better.

It was by no means an accident that our online learning partner, CPL Online, stood out for us among the suppliers tendering to build our new eLearning platform.  From day one it was clear that they were the team that would make my concepts a reality; a building full of creative people.  There are illustrators who can draw quite literally anything.  There are animators that bring those to life.  Then there are the programmers who build interactive games to emphasise key points in online training.  There are also the data guys who make sure our eLearning platform connects with our payroll system, meaning that from day one a new starter has their own username and password and access to the right courses for their role. 

The whole site has a look and feel to it quite different to any other eLearning platform I’ve ever seen.  We engage with each individual right from the very beginning of each course and all the way through to the end where we gather their feedback on how the course has been for them. 

But it’s not just about courses that you sit down and complete from end to end.  There’s also a whole library of electronic material on our virtual bookshelf.  Documents to support training, videos to inspire and audio clips to educate.  There is our news channel too where we can publish news, pictures, videos and audio clips targeted to individuals based on their role, location or seniority.  It has its own news logos, jingles and voiceover style.  Then, there is also the messaging system which provides a means of contacting every single employee regardless of whether they have a company email address or not, instantly.

By far, our online platform is the most advanced eLearning site I have worked with.  It works alongside and complements the rest of our L&D offering.  And with every new course we release, we seem to top the creativity of the last.  Our user satisfaction scores gathered at the end of each course climb higher with each new release. 

So, without resting on our laurels, it’s with pride that I’m able to talk about our online site.  It’s far removed from the early attempts at delivering computer based learning all those years ago.  It’s far much more engaging.  But with so much more to go at and with new technology to get our hands on; mobile devices, interactive devices and a whole new world of touch screen ahead of us, I wonder what the next few years brings in the development of online learning. 

It need never be boring again!  Ever!

So that's my journey so far with online learning.  What's yours?  I'd be interested to hear how you're getting on.  Does online learning feature as part of your L&D mix?  How are you using online learning to engage with your teams?


Let me know, comment below!

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Ady Howes - Community Manager, DPG

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Comments

  • Hi Ady, great article.  We have started to use this technology for our pre joiner pack for new entrants coming into the business giving our new colleagues a flavour of what is to come.. this is all very new for me and I now need to up skill myself on this learning development to enable me to continuously improve and get more creative!  I am very interested in the storyboarding you have done and how this supports the development of elearning.

    • Hi Pauline,

      I'd forgotten about that article from that time ago. Nice to see that you found it useful.

      We have a digital skills group on the Community that's been recently established. Inspired by your comment, I've just popped a discussion on with regards to storyboarding and would love for you to have a read and post your questions as part of that discussion.

      Let me know if you're interested in joining the group too and I'll add you on.

      You can find the discussion just here: http://community.dpgplc.co.uk/group-hub/digitalskills/forum/three-r...

  • Hi Ady,

    Thanks for sharing your story on what I believe it a misunderstood topic. eLearning is seen by many as a click next click next boring activity that is only used for compliance training or as a tick box exercise to make sure people have gone through specific training.

    I've been guilty myself of creating very linear and boring slide / text heavy self-managed learning and what you're doing here is raising awareness that eLearning doesn't HAVE to be boring. You don't know what you don't know and whilst it looks like you've got some nice technology to support with a bit more thought and planning you can create branching scenarios and scenario based eLearning quite easily.

    For me what I like about this approach is that you've made it relevant and situation based. You learners aren't doing something that has no meaning for them or context they are learning things they can apply on the job straight away. You could almost go so far to say you've created a virtual environment for them that simulates what they do.

    A great achievement and I'd love to know more about how you story board and come up with the concepts for others to learn from. Another blog perhaps??

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