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NogginLabs was founded on the notion that custom e-learning design and development is the ultimate horizontal industry. Time and again, each new project, client, and industry proves it. The biggest advantage of the e-learning horizontal is cross-pollinating ideas from two wildly different domains. A restaurant service simulation for iPad may influence a high-fashion online retail challenge. E-learning for financial advisors in a bank could inspire a mobile outreach program for cancer survivors. This variety also keeps the creative folks at NogginLabs fresh. Fresh learning ideas and designs come from a set of constantly changing constraints.

A stock photo field guide to underestimating your e-learning audience


A stock photo field guide to underestimating your e-learning audience

Jonathan Baude

You've probably heard about the dangers of underestimating your e-learning audience. So you know that, in theory, it's important to challenge your learners with engaging custom e-learning. But let's talk about what really happens when you make the mistake of not trusting your audience. Check out what happens to an underestimated learner, illustrated with nature's most bountiful resource: stock photography.


When you spend too much of your training on lengthy stretches of hand-holding and overexplanation, it's difficult for a learner to be enthusiastic about what they're doing. Your audience needs the chance to really think critically about your content, to be spoken to on their level, to try things and make mistakes. Without that, they won't be interested, and they won't learn. 


When you give your audience lame training, they won't just resent the course. They'll probably come to resent the entire training experience. If you had to slog through material that felt like it had every drop of creativity and rigor wrung from it, you'd be bitter too. To make great training, respect your learners' intelligence, and watch them rise to the challenge. 


People don't like to talk about it, but it's true: some training can be so off-base it's ridiculous. Courses that are too dry or too simplified can confirm your learners' worst fears about what the training experience is like. When you don't trust your learner, you damage your credibility, you really limit your effectiveness, and worst of all--you open yourself up to some real hurtful zingers. 


Trying to learn from inadequate training can be excruciating. It gets even worse when you stick your learners with a course that they feel insults their intelligence and doesn't give them the freedom to experiment or think critically. As your learners do their best to make their way through it, it'll feel like beating their head against a wall, and you're guaranteed not to get the results you're looking for. 


Here's the real problem: When you aren't engaging your audience, you lose them. Once your learners start to feel that they don't have anything to gain from the training and feel as if it's beneath them, the learning experience is compromised. By playing it too safe and underestimating your learners, you won't be able to get them to care about the training. They'll just be on auto-pilot, daydreaming their way through the whole thing.

Now, in your environment, things may look a little different from these stock photo gems. But the truth is universal: it's hard to learn when you don't feel like you're trusted with the material. So don't underestimate your learners. Give them the chance to impress you. You'll like what you see.