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  • Writer's pictureNicole Papaioannou Lugara

It's a Journey NOT a Textbook: The Secret to Great Self-Paced eLearning

The biggest mistake we see instructional designers and learning experience designers make with self-paced eLearning content is focusing too much on content and not enough on context. What ultimately happens is that the learning experience becomes a digital textbook.


Now, don't get me wrong. Textbooks have their place. They are great resources. But self-paced eLearning isn't it.


If you've been in the industry for more than 5 minutes, I bet you've all seen at least one of these types of trainings:


  • a Storyline module broken down by chapters or units, where every slide is read/listen to narration then click next

  • a Rise 360 module that is 90% text explaining concepts

  • a Powerpoint presentation where they read off bullets about a topic

  • a series of explainer videos that define and then further expand on explanations (kind like this blog post TBH)


If your entire course is an explainer experience, it's a digital textbook (and probably not even a search friendly one).


Who the heck wants to sit through all that?


Who the heck is going to remember all of that?


No one. That's who.

The problem starts when we begin by breaking down curriculum into learning objectives and content areas.


What works better? Focusing on transformations and small wins (performance objectives).


Let's look at how this works with an example of designing remote team manager training.

Content-Focused

Transformation-Focused

Leading Remote and Hybrid Teams


Lesson 1: Adapting team-building strategies for remote and hybrid teams


Lesson 2: Establishing clear communication channels and expectations


Lesson 3: Promoting work-life balance and mental well-being


Lesson 4: Leveraging technology to enhance team collaboration

4 Strategies to Take Your Team from Scattered & Siloed to Cohesive & Collaborative


Lesson 1: Assess your teams' effectiveness with the Remote Team Rubric


Lesson 2: Plan your improvement


Lesson 3: Share your vision with your team


Lesson 4: Invite and respond to feedback


Lesson 5: Reflect and revisit the plan

You can see the difference between the two. It almost doesn't look like the same course.


While one "teaches" about different concepts, the other invites users to participate in an action-based journey, where they apply what they're learning to the work they're doing in a logical sequence. It's not quite learning in the flow of work, but it's much closer than learn and then try to recall. It also allows them to build confidence as they see the fruits of their labor build lesson after lesson.


And while the content-focused curriculum is very rigid and structured, the transformation-focused curriculum allows for personalization, even if the core content is the same. For example, if you assess that your team has a problem with work-life balance, that's what you'll build into your improvement plan. If it's unclear communication channels, that's where you'll focus your energy. The transformation leaves space for individual goal achievement.


Finally, the content-focused curriculum is isolating. You read. You understand. You go about your business. The transformation-focused curriculum is social. It invites users to go out for feedback from others and to see the impact of their learning in real world contexts.


Have you seen a transformation-based learning experience in action? We'd love to hear about it in the comments.



 

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