This type of motivation comes from outside the individual, either anticipating a reward or avoiding punishment. When motivation is purely extrinsic, learners focus on the end result rather than enjoy the learning process. However, incorporating extrinsically motivating features—such as points, badges, or certificates—can be very effective techniques.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT E-LEARNING SOLUTION
With so many options available, choosing the right e-learning solution can be daunting.
The solution needs to be effective and resonate with your learners, but also meet your budget. A great consultant can help you by asking the right questions and addressing your underlying needs.
First: Gain some insight into how we consult with our clients. Click the “+” signs to reveal important e-learning considerations.
Then: Scroll down to check out e-learning solutions we’ve crafted to meet our clients’ needs. Click the “+” signs to reveal each case study.
When consulting with our clients, we seek to understand why their audience will be motivated to first take the e-learning course, and then to use the knowledge and skills learned when they are back on the job. Even if the training is mandatory, we can still explore ways to increase motivation. Keller’s ARCS Model, Lepper and Malone’s Taxonomy of Intrinsic Motivations, and self-determination theory provide insights on how to motivate learners by addressing both extrinsic and intrinsic motivational factors.
This type of motivation happens when an individual engages in learning for the enjoyment of the process and a sense of accomplishment. When you pursue a new hobby, your desire to learn about that hobby is intrinsic; no one is paying you to learn how to golf. Studies show that when people are intrinsically motivated, they are more focused and attentive. Providing time and freedom to pursue what interests them, as well as building in elements of challenge, storytelling, and curiosity, can heighten intrinsic motivation.
Originally published in 1956 and revised as recently as 2000, Bloom’s taxonomy is a way of classifying the goals of a training course—what you want the learners to know or be able to do after they complete the training. The spectrum you see here starts with lower levels of cognitive thinking (know, understand) and moves to higher levels with more complex objectives (synthesize, evaluate, and create). Clearly defining the learning objectives upfront is essential for developing effective training and valuable assessment tools. In our experience, we find that in e-learning, the learning objectives greatly inform the complexity level of the solution—the higher the cognitive outcome desired, the more complex the solution often must be.
KNOW / UNDERSTAND
Knowledge and comprehension are lower-level objectives that ask learners to demonstrate their memory of previously learned facts (recall) and understanding of facts and ideas (e.g., by comparing or organizing them). Within e-learning, these objectives are achieved using limited or moderate interactivity – rollover or click-to-reveal interactions and simple quizzes. Audio, video, and avatars can be used to heighten engagement.
APPLY / ANALYZE
Applying knowledge and skills within the training environment calls for a more complex solution. One common example is software simulation, in which an e-learning course provides a safe environment for practicing the steps to complete a task within a system or tool. Analysis is another form of practice that requires learners to examine information and look at relationships and organizing principles. In more complex activities, such as scenarios, learners respond to real-world situations and attempt to distinguish between the good, better, and best responses.
SYNTHESIZE / EVALUATE / CREATE
At these higher levels of cognitive thinking, learners are asked to develop new patterns or alternative solutions and present and defend their opinions. Immersive simulations allow learners to step into a virtual workplace and make decisions about how and where they should spend their time to achieve the best outcome. Layered activities provide an opportunity to develop tangible deliverables during the training, including business plans and summary reports.
Learner demographics are another essential consideration when shaping an effective e-learning solution. Below, we look at a hierarchy of audience profiles, but the learners’ environment, age, and gender are other important variables to consider.
Typically, younger generations (including Millennials), associates, and entry-level staff are more accustomed to using digital technology for learning. Their life-long use of computers, video games, and cell phones creates an expectation that e-learning solutions should be interactive and eye-catching. Incorporating social aspects can be effective for this audience. (Learn more about training Millennials.) We want to get this audience up to speed quickly and performing on the job.
Often with managers, a focus is expanding capabilities and increasing proficiency in supervising, coaching, and consistently applying policies and procedures. For these topics, scenarios can be effective. They offer an opportunity to model correct approaches and receive feedback on incorrect ones within the context of common situations.
At the top of the employee pyramid are leaders: potentially older team members who often demand more high-touch solutions. Sophisticated solutions that incorporate rich media and simulations within classroom or coaching environments are often well received.
Within a learning and development organization, the spectrum of training solutions might be a combination of diverse offerings—similar to a stock portfolio. Not every course needs to be highly interactive, yet not should every course be a low-end page-turner. Here, we look at some reasons for keeping costs down or making a greater investment.
For temporary or frequently changing content, explore a lower-complexity—and possibly a rapid-development—solution. A smaller audience may also dictate a lower-cost solution for Return On Investment (ROI) reasons. Interactivity will be limited, so these courses should target learning objectives lower on the cognitive scale (know and understand). Pairing a limited-interactivity course with a more interactive virtual or live instructor-led course can be a cost-effective blended solution to target higher-level learning objectives.
For many organizations, most e-learning solutions will fall in the medium budget range. This range offers a good level of interactivity including activities, quizzes, infographics, and audio. This level is appropriate for the entry-level learning objectives (know and understand), and incorporating avatars, video, and animation increases engagement. Simple scenario or software simulation activities can target higher-level learning objectives (apply and analyze).
For solutions that need to address the highest level learning objectives (synthesize, evaluate, and create), or high-priority, mission-critical skill building or messaging, a greater investment is often warranted. At this level, immerse environments allow learners to practice in a simulated work experience, and gamification features (e.g., storytelling, challenge, points, and rewards) increase engagement and motivation.
Another key consideration is the desired launch date for the e-learning solution. Some business needs may dictate a more aggressive timeline. On the other hand, the desire for a higher level of interactivity and engagement may require a longer timeline. In the scoping phase, we seek the right balance for meeting the time-to-market need and ensuring a realistic project scope for team members—especially the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).
When the solution’s time to market is critical to meeting the business need, rapid development is a good strategy. Launching critical policy and procedural changes and addressing regulatory requirements or feedback are examples of these types of business drivers. The key to a successful rapid development solution is creating a templatized approach for the entire project lifecycle—from gathering content to designing interactivity and using development tools. Open channels of communication and a high level of commitment from all parties are essential for success.
While we might label any non-rapid project lifecycle as “typical,” we customize the timelines to meet the needs of all team members and the project scope. Before the project begins, it is important to discuss acceptable turnaround times, scheduled team absences, and required layers of approval. Then, we incorporate these factors in the project plan. While the goal is to complete the project in the shortest possible timeframe, being realistic about the time required helps all parties stay on track and avoid delays.
Take a look at these examples of how we used the considerations described above to craft the right e-learning solutions for our clients.
PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE FOR ASSOCIATES
A retail chain needed an effective solution for introducing new products and brands to its store associates. New product and brand launches often have aggressive timelines, and managers request to limit associates’ time off the floor for training.
Associates want to help their customers. This includes being able to answer questions about products and assist customers in finding the right product(s) for their need(s).
Know the product features and benefits, understand how to target potential customers, and know where to look for more information.
Associates / Millennials
The client’s budget was medium for the initial investment, but the client is looking for a templatized solution that creates cost savings over time.
The client needed a rapid-development approach that provided a quick-turn solution when a new product or brand is launched in stores.
For our retail client, we developed a template-based, nano-learning solution. These short product knowledge courses cover the main features of the product or brand, how to target customers, and where to find more information, while minimizing time off the floor. Colorful photos, simple activities, and an animated interface keep engagement high.
VIDEO SCENARIOS FOR PROFESSIONALS
A financial services organization needed a roadmap for preparing financial advisors to meet the needs of high-net-worth individuals.
This audience typically perceives training as, at best, a means to an end, and at worst, a distraction. Incorporating intrinsically motivating features was important for increasing focus and attention.
Learners needed to self-analyze where they are on the path to becoming a wealth advisor and apply their understanding of how to work with high-net-worth clients.
This audience includes professionals; largely Generation X and Baby Boomers.
The client’s budget was medium to high, allowing for rich media and interactivity.
We created a typical timeline that addressed the needs of busy SMEs, while meeting a critical business need.
The blended solution included e-learning as pre-work for an interactive instructor-led training (ILT) session. The e-learning activities allow learners to consider their business and skills and self-assess areas of improvement. Custom video scenarios demonstrate good, better, and best application of skills and require learners to choose the best approach and receive feedback on their choices. Open-response activities provide opportunities for further reflection and prepare learners for the ILT session.
BUSINESS SIMULATION FOR LEADERS
A large credit card business needed its leaders to understand what makes the business profitable and how cross-functional teams can work together to increase profitability.
As the top performers within a competitive industry, these leaders are motivated by achievement and success. They need a high level of control and points of reflection to increase intrinsic motivation for learning.
Learners needed to assimilate complex information quickly, evaluate the impact of decisions, and create a framework for profitability for the company.
This audience includes leaders; mostly Baby Boomers.
This client’s budget was high for an initial investment in a complex solution that would provide high ROI over time.
We created a typical timeline that allowed for a high level of participation from SMEs and the development of a simulation model.
For our financial services client, we developed a highly complex business simulation that required teamwork, intricate decision-making, and a competitive edge. Working in cross-functional teams, leaders sought to make their virtual credit card business the most profitable by addressing aspects of sales and marketing, account management, and operations. Each decision impacted key performance drivers, including the cost to acquire a new account and customer satisfaction. Spirited debate and an intense horse race amped up engagement, while guidance and debriefs with knowledgeable table coaches reinforced the concepts.