Behavior change can be triggered by almost anything. Small experiences might typically cause small change, like watching a video about how to make pancakes taste like donuts and never settle for regular pancakes again (it's nutmeg). And big experiences can lead to more resonating change, even causing you to redefine your life’s purpose. By the same reasoning, training can take a wide variety of formats and approaches and still have a meaningful impact on a user’s behavior.
I think that’s kind of freeing, personally. If you put thought and care into how your user will experience a course, many surprising approaches can be implemented to strike a chord with them. To celebrate this exciting potential, here are some weird ideas that might work well in your e-learning.
Everyone wants to welcome the user right away. It makes sense. You want them to feel appreciated and informed as soon as they launch the course. Eh, what if you didn’t though? Why not try starting off with a small, curious challenge that prompts the users to invite themselves into to the experience. Ask an unexpected question that seems unrelated to the content to catch them a little off guard. Instead of a full, media-rich animation, which can definitely work great, why not have a single object to move or click on a sparse, abstract environment that guides them through a series of boldly stated takeaways. We always talk about needing to engage the user fast and that holds true, but there are many ways to achieve that.
SWITCH IT UP SUDDENLY
Just because you’ve established a specific tone and vibe for the training doesn’t mean you’re shackled to it for the entire experience. Great music, books, and movies don’t usually hammer the same note over and over again--it’s the ways they incorporate different levels that keep people hooked. Don’t be afraid to mix frank, outspoken writing with a sincere call to action. Use actual, modern humor to complement a serious review of consequences in a compliance course.
Same goes for interactivity and visuals. Add in some interruptions that cause the user to make a choice while feeling a little uncertain. Create some fake banner ads that call out the unspoken hardships that your audience endures in their day to day tasks. Give them a quiz that is more rigorous or reflective than the expected march through the facts. Don’t be hung up on making everything perfectly uniform and consistent - users can handle a well-placed change of pace or ten.
CHANGE THE ENTIRE FORMAT
Training shouldn't have to look or feel like the standard little rectangle you launch and complete. Think about ways to deliver training in a creative way that moves beyond the basic linear progression of a typical course. How about…
- An ongoing series of graphic novels, or even just a four-panel comic, to depict how a new policy will impact the workplace.
- A beautiful infographic delivered on the homepage of the intranet or directly to their inboxes.
- Journal-style narrative installments of a story that follows a new hire’s journey through orientation.
- Documentary-style videos of employees revealing their most effective techniques for mastering customer service.
- An audio interview showcasing some authentic employee perspectives on the benefits of a new procedure.
- A daily gif or captioned photo that depicts the consequences of a vital rule in one shot.
Whatever you choose, consider whether subverting the standard, expected approach could benefit your audience by getting them to double down on their investment in it. The science behind solid instructional design is always enriched by the addition of art and creativity.