These are trying times for all of us. The world is dealing with the widespread effects of COVID-19, which has impacted personal lives, businesses, and academics alike! At times like these, all we can do is take stock and reassess our priorities.
But, COVID-19 has also shown us the bright side of some things. Many-a-times, as instructional designers or as e-learning professionals, we do not get to see or experience the impact of our training on end-users. But this pandemic has provided us with this very opportunity. Today, when we read about how Governments and various organizations are able to transition their systems and processes smoothly – we think of the process training or a health and safety training developed by MPS Interactive Systems and how it might be helping clients during these trying times. When we come across articles about children studying from home or university students continuing their education from the safety of their rooms, it brings to mind the effectiveness of training material designed for K12 or universities. That’s when it hits! We really are “changing the way the world learns” by “making learning smarter.”
So what does this mean for us as Instructional Designers? How does it impact our design? How do we help organizations transition to online training in situations like this and at the same time ensure that learning is engaging?
Here are some design principles – the Four S framework – to keep in mind:
1. Keep it Simple
Ensure that technology used, the navigation, and the overall course design are simple and intuitive for the target audience. Since limited support will be available, we don’t want a user struggling to figure out how to access a piece of content. The message and learning objectives of the course must be clearly presented.
2. Keep it Short
Just because the employee is working from home does not mean she or he has the whole day to go through a training program. As instructional designers, we need to boil it down to the smallest unit and design micro-learning units (MLUs) for our end-audience. Use a variety of methodologies, flip cards, interactive PDFs, learning nuggets, infographics, and talking head videos – think out of the box! Also, avoid cramming too many MLUs in one session – spread it over a period of time by planning the program intelligently.
3. Keep it Stimulating
Move beyond programs where the user is just clicking through the screens. Provide situations and activities that the learner can apply to typical work situations. Challenges can be in the form of scenario-based activities, branching scenarios, mini-games, and simlets. Include research-based assignments, which otherwise employees are unable to do at work because of lack of time.
4. Keep it Social
Since the employee is working from home, provide opportunities where the s/he would need to discuss projects or tasks with colleague/s over the phone, via Whatsapp or any other social platforms. Encourage collaboration among the participants through group activities. If the corporate LMS allows for discussion forums or Ask an expert, ensure that these are included in your program. This will increase engagement and increase the sense of belonging to an organization.
The above principles should be followed for any learning program but they gain more importance in situations like the one we are facing at the moment. By following these principles, we can continue to support our clients to create products that serve their training needs and leave their impact in the world of learning.
– By Shreya Pandya, Director – Instructional Design at MPS Interactive Systems