We’ve all been there. You sign up for an online class, or join a cohort course, or hop onto a webinar, or attend a conference hoping to learn something that actually helps you move forward in your work or life. But 10 minutes into it you realize you made a mistake. It might have been a costly mistake, depending on what you paid. You walk away feeling scammed and disappointed, and you didn’t really learn anything in the process, except that some learning just sucks.
If you experienced that, let me start by apologizing. It shouldn’t be that way. As an organization that creates learning for our mission, we believe learning should be fun and engaging and result in some take-aways you can put into action. Learning should be life-changing.
If you provide learning to others in any way, shape, or form; it’s YOUR responsibility to create learning that sticks instead of learning that sucks. So how do you do that? We’ve compiled a few of our best tips below to help you get started.
Know your Learner
To start with, you need to know who you are creating the learning for. Don’t assume your content is for everyone. It’s not. By brushing a broad stroke with your learner, you may cover more canvas, but you’ll lose your learner in the process.
We recommend creating a learner persona of your ideal learner, prior to building your curriculum. You may have heard of customer personas that are used in marketing to your target customer or client. A learner persona has some similar components, such as demographics and psychographics, but it goes deeper than that.
In addition to the demographics, take into account learning styles, education levels and the user experience and types of platforms and tools your ideal learner will engage with the most. Don’t assume anything! Get honest feedback from previous learners. Take a course similar to yours and canvas those taking it with you. Hold a free beta course. Do what it takes to get to know your ideal learner inside and out.
Know the Outcome
If you don’t know the intended outcome you have for your learner, how can you create learning that sticks for them?
Intended outcomes are the transformation you want to take place for your learner once they’ve completed your class/lesson/course/webinar. You can get started on this by asking yourself a few key questions:
- What is motivating them to learn?
- What is essential for them to know?
- What is important for them to know and do?
- What is good to know, but not necessary?
- How will they implement what they learn?
- How will they know they are learning something?
- How will you know they are learning something?
- What are the next steps in their learning journey?
There’s no sense in creating learning content if you don’t know your desired outcomes.
Create Vibrant, Engaging, Content
You can know your learner and know the outcome and still create learning that sucks. Learning that sticks has to include vibrant, engaging content.
Today’s learners are more tech savvy and have shorter attention spans than learners in the past. The brains of today’s learners need information that is quick, easy to understand, and exciting. They don’t just want to learn, they want to be entertained in the process. There are a lot of ways to create vibrant, engaging content that will stick with your learner, but here are a few tricks of the trade that will help you along the way.
Think Small: Break learning into smaller, bite-sized chunks. We call this microlearning. It’s effective, but requires you to drop the fluff and be succinct.
Think Movement: The use of kinetic typography and motion graphics can capture attention and drive the retention of key points throughout your teaching. Various styles of animation can set the tone and speak directly to your learner persona.
Think Sound: If you have a voice that is great for putting kids to sleep at bedtime, you may want to consider using a professional voice over artist. A great voice over provides engagement and taps into your auditory learners primary learning style. Add music to your talking head or motion graphics videos. Studies have shown that music aids in both the comprehension and retention of information.
Think Interaction: Adding IA, or interactive content gives your kinesthetic learners a leg up and makes your content more engaging. Discussion and group interactions also increase learning retention and help learners learn from others within the group, not just the instructor.
Think Action: Helping learners put what they are learning into action not only increases retention, it helps you deliver your intended outcomes. Give your learners immediate and frequent ways to “do” what they “know”.
If this seems like a lot, it is. And this is just scratching the surface. Don’t get overwhelmed. Start by integrating a few of these into your learning and then grow it from there.
Create a Great User Experience
Think about your favorite restaurant. What do you love about it? Chances are the great food is just one of the reasons you keep coming back. The experience you have there is what really makes it your favorite. From the ambience, to the service, your “user experience” is the key. The same is true for learning that sticks vs. learning that sucks.
If you create incredible, vibrant, engaging content, but have a ho-hum or even horrible delivery system, you won’t have happy learners. Selecting the right delivery platform for your learning and giving your learners a great experience with it will keep them coming back for more.
The learning landscape has exploded in recent years with a veritable smorgasbord of choices for learning delivery platforms. The one you choose and how you use it will depend on several factors including: your learner persona, intended outcomes, content assets, and budget. One thing many people miss though, is how it fits into your organizational goals and objectives.
In order to select the right delivery platform and user experience you need to evaluate what you are doing with your learning and how you will support it and scale it for growth.
If you want to serve several hundreds, or thousands, of people with your learning, you’ll need more than the back end of your website, you’ll need an e-learning knowledgeable tech team to build it, scale it, and support it. Don’t assume that you can just slap your content on a learning or course platform and it will provide a great experience for your learners. Do some research, enlist an expert, and evaluate the options. This will save you tons of time and money. And, it will keep your learners coming back for more.
Your Next Step to Learning that Sticks
We trust that this has given you a lot of food for thought as you consider how to create learning that sticks vs. learning that sucks. Some of these tips you will be able to put into action on your own. Some may require the guidance of industry experts like our team here at the E5 Institute. Our passion is creating and instituting learning that sticks for our clients that help them mobilize and expand their mission.
If you’re interested in exploring what that looks like, click on the button below to set up an exploration meeting with one of our E5I Guides. We promise it won’t suck.