Have you ever wished you could go back in time and tell your younger self what you’ve learned so far about eLearning? That’s the premise behind John Araiza’s short little book, 26 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About eLearning. There were 4 “things” that really resonated with me.
A Quick Read with Loads of Great Information
26 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About eLearning is a short, 29 page Kindle book designed for those just starting out on their eLearning development journeys. It’s also available as a 36 minute audiobook. I suspect it would be good for experienced eLearning developers, too, if only to serve as a handy checklist for each new project.
As a voice talent specializing in eLearning, I have no plans to become an eLearning developer myself. But I’ve always felt it’s a good idea to learn as much as I can about my client’s business. This book definitely helped me understand the industry better than I did before I started.
With that in mind, here are my top 4 takeaways from the book. The numbers below correspond to how Araiza numbered them.
#5: You Can’t Force People to Learn
It’s like the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. According to Araiza, if adults want to learn something, they will. If they don’t, they won’t.
I experienced this myself when I was training employees in the classroom for one of the biggest banks in the country. In ILT, the instructor can usually spot the ones who are just taking up space and only along for the ride. With eLearning, it’s a little bit tougher. But it can be done. The good news, according to Araiza, is that most of the people who don’t pay attention to training will eventually weed themselves out of the company anyway. I’ve seen this happen many times, also.
#9: People Love to Practice, But They Hate to Fail
Araiza points out that you can read all the books you want about golf, but reading by itself won’t make you a great golfer. You have to go out on the driving range and the golf course and practice what you’ve learned. The same concept applies to eLearning.
Studies have shown that new information must be retrieved 3 times within 30 days to make learning “stick.” Araiza recommends presenting the foundation of the course, and then making every attempt to have the learner apply what they just learned right away. This way, the learner is able to practice their new skills in a controlled environment. A controlled environment is critical, because it gives learners a safe place to practice their new skills without any ramifications if they fail.
#19: eLearning Is Nothing Without Instructional Design
According to Araiza, if you’re interested in eLearning and don’t know anything about Instructional Design, drop everything and learn the basics of Instructional Design. Instructional Design allows you to arrange the course so it will have the most impact on the learner. There are hundreds of theories of Instructional Design out there, and Araiza recommends finding the ones that you connect with and applying them to your courses. Bad Instructional Design in a classroom can be saved by a great trainer, but bad Instructional Design in an eLearning course will make it difficult, if not impossible, to engage the learner.
#22: Watch Over Someone’s Shoulder While They Take Your Course
Did you ever sit behind someone and watch them while they take one of your courses? Test marketers at giant corporations do something similar to this to determine how prospective buyers will use their product and how intuitive it is to operate. They’ll spend thousands and thousands of dollars to make sure a product is tweaked just right before they send it out to the market. In eLearning, however, you don’t have to spend that kind of money. Just gather up a couple of employees and have them take the course while you watch them.
Never assume that your course is easy to follow and simple to navigate. Of course you can do it, you’re the one who designed the course! But it can be a real eye-opener to watch someone with no familiarity with the course whatsoever navigate (or…attempt to navigate) through it.