Most people, when they find out they have to take an e-learning course, groan inwardly (occasionally outwardly), simply because most people's past experiences with online learning have not been positive. The nice thing is that the bar for online training is set pretty low in most organizations. Churn out something with an intuitive design and unlocked Next button, and you'll have people singing your praises.
But what if you could build a learning program that your learners love so much, it goes viral in your company? Don't laugh. We've seen this happen with our clients, and it's not a Herculean feat that requires a multi-million dollar budget to pull off. Here are 6 ways you too can turn your next e-learning course into a big smash.
1. FIND OUT WHAT TRAINING PEOPLE REALLY NEED.
When a manager comes to you with a request, do a little digging. Are you faced with a business problem disguised as a training problem? Has the topic been done to death? Is it something the learners even care about? The majority of people want to be equipped with the skills and knowledge to do their jobs well, and they welcome learning experiences that can get them there. But you need to make sure your program is on target.
If sales are down, do the reps really need another course on how to close deals? Or is there something else going on? Our secret weapon: ask them. Survey the learners or meet informally with some of the top performers. Find out what's going on in their worlds and how you can help them. Not only will you find out how you can better serve your learners, but you'll also stand to gain some evangelists for the new program.
2. DESIGN E-LEARNING THAT REFLECTS CONSUMER MEDIA STANDARDS.
We blog about this a lot, and that's because it's so important and so under-done. Just because training is required doesn't mean it's ok to make it ugly, dated, or bland. Look for inspiration in the media you consume. What media do you interact with regularly? Movies, tv shows, advertisements, apps, games, websites, podcasts, books, blogs, and more can all offer inspiration for narrative, visual design, interactivity, and a helpful user interface. Online learning should never be designed in a vacuum; engage the Four Pillars here. Also, check out these posts for more design ideas:
- Cinematic tricks to use in your next custom e-learning course
- Authenticity in stock photography
- Six considerations for every custom e-learning design
- What detective fiction can teach us about e-learning
- Games that inspire
3. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOCIAL FEATURES.
If you want to make online learning that goes viral, give people a reason to share it. Place them on a virtual quest that can only be completed with help from coworkers. Leaderboards are a great way to foster a healthy competition and get people trying to best each other. Built-in email functions make it easy to share content and interact with others. Don't be afraid of social. You want people buzzing about your program, and if you've achieved #2, you're already on track to making sure that buzz is positive. Don't be afraid of social from a technology standpoint, either. A custom portal can enable you to comply with your existing LMS while also doing what you want.
4. MARKET THE COURSE AS IF YOU WERE SELLING IT.
Marketing is another oft-missed opportunity. You may be thinking, "People are required to take this course. No point in marketing it." And you have a point--if they have to do it anyway, why put in the effort?
The answer to that is simple: engagement. Instead of learners who log into the LMS just dreading another boring experience, you can foster a sense of excitement right from the start. Pique their curiosity. Get them wondering about what's to come. Heck, getting your learners thinking about learning at all prior to starting the course will be a huge culture shift for many companies. There are many ways to go about promoting your course internally. For a start, check out our post on trailers for e-learning.
5. SOLICIT FEEDBACK FROM LEARNERS.
I'm not talking about the same old smile sheets and post-course surveys. Ask people to give you their geniune thoughts. Ask them what they liked, what they didn't like, what could've been better, what surprised them, and what you should do differently next time. Be sure to listen to their answers. Take their comments into account going forward. When learners see that you've bothered to include a personal touch, they'll be more inclined to do the same. Which brings me to...
6. ASK YOUR LEARNERS TO SHARE THE COURSE.
Depending on your corporate culture, some people will share a stellar course unprompted. But look, people are busy. They forget. Making your training go viral isn't at the top of their priority lists. Give them something they'll be proud to share, and make it easy for them to do so. If you've done your job on the design side, they'll be happy to help you out.