How good design can be difference in business success

Unicorn in action

Unicorn in action

In the first in of a new series of blogs from our own team of people in the know, Unicorn Instructional Designer, Mark Pitman, looks at how good eLearning design can provide a competitive advantage in the all important final numbers game. 

“We recognise that talent comes in all shapes and sizes.

But how do you stretch your talent muscles, generating the motivation in you to unleash your full potential? After all what is the point of having talent if you don’t apply it and make a difference?

When we approach a new piece of learning we start by spending time with the client to understand the learners and the purpose and the required business or personal outcomes.

All too often we encounter eLearning modules that have not moved on much from the didactic knowledge transfer of the old classroom model, with eLearning and resultant assessments not being an indicator of anything other than short-term memory recall.

Designing effective eLearning entails much more than this, as by completing a module and assessment a learner should be able to demonstrate observable and quantifiable improvements in their performance, attitude, skills or knowledge.

Poorly designed eLearning is eventually transferred in the form of the learner’s inability to do their job better, comply with regulations, pass a qualification or convince external bodies they have reached a required level of ability.

I’ve always been inspired by Cathy Moore, the well-respected eLearning blogger and guru, who calls this ‘action mapping’. This focuses learning design on changing what people do, not just what they know.

This can be achieved by following the following four steps:

1) Identify the key business goal  – for example, increase sales of our new product by 5% by the end of quarter four, rather than our salespeople should know all about the features of our new product.

A measureable business goal like this helps us:
•    Design relevant activities
•    Identify key content
•    Evaluate the success of the learning
•    Show how our work helps support your goal

2) Identify what people need to do – list actions that people must take to meet the business goals in step 1.

For example to increase sales, your salespeople must:
•    Ask questions that uncover a customer’s needs
•    Identify the best product for the customer
•    Emphasise the benefits that will matter most to the customer.

It is also important for the instructional designer to understand what is preventing better performance. Is it knowledge, skills, motivation or is it environment? Once this is understood, we are also better placed to ask whether an eLearning solution is actually the best approach to improving performance.

3) Design practice activities – for each action in step 2 that learners must take on the job we will design a real world practice activity.

For example generating a fictional customer in a real life situation, where the learner engages in a dialogue that will reveal the customer’s needs (or not).

4) Identify what people really, really need to know – identify information learners must have to complete each practice activity. So if the required information doesn’t support an activity ask yourself do you really need to include it?

By helping us produce modules and assessments, which are tightly-focused, realistic and consisting of compelling activities, with minimal irrelevant information, you are more likely to unleash your talent to have a measureable business impact. Unleashing talent; it’s your new competitive advantage!”

MarkPitmanBlogSig

Check out some of our off-the-shelf designs in this awesome new video

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