Creating online courses that not only educate learners but captivates and leaves them full of curiosity is a difficult task. Most people will agree that the quality of the content is the most important aspect of any educational course. But once you have your subject matter experts creating content, the next step is to determine how to deliver that content to your audience.
There has been much advancement and innovation in the eLearning industry over the last several years, and today I’ll be reviewing three of my favorite examples of organizations thinking outside the box to deliver their content to their audience.
The definition of gamification is the process of adding games or gamelike elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation. Gamification is used in education as a whole, but it is seen more frequently in eLearning programs. Motivating individuals to progress through something by rewarding them with badges and points-upon-completion of various assignments or objectives is the essence of gamification and is the essence of Pokémon GO.
During the Pokémon GO craze a few years ago, people of all ages were out in the real-world going to different locations to accomplish set tasks. The premise of the game was to catch every Pokémon and eventually become a Pokémon master. Players could also elect to pursue side tasks and other missions, enticing them to explore new places and sparking a new sense of curiosity. Learning is all about curiosity! When a learner is curious they have motivation driving them toward discovering new learning objectives.
If you didn’t get into the Pokémon GO craze yourself, another thing to note is that the game starts off at an easy level, allowing players to get used to the interface. As one progresses through the game, new features and harder tasks become available to keep players interested. If you think back to courses you’ve taken in the past, you typically start with the basics and as you progress the material becomes more difficult. This directly relates to cognitive science and how learning is exponential.
Another feature of Pokémon GO are timestamps and activity tracking. Similar to a learner taking a course, it is important for them to easily track their progress. This helps learners stay motivated by showing them how far they have come, it lets them reference the materials they have previously covered, and it also teaches them the fundamentals of data literacy.
This example helpful for course creators that are just getting their online learning programs started, or for course creators who have repeat learners that take different courses you provide. Utilizing a course template is great for those just starting out because it allows you to spend more time on creating the most important part of the course, the content. Seasoned course creators can benefit from this comic book style template because repeat learners will be able to experience something new and refreshing. eLearning Heroes created a challenge for their online community of course creators – many members posted their own course examples, including my personal favorite, created by Priyanka Chandel of Epicor.
One of the most effective ways for individuals to learn something new is to simply do the thing they’re learning about. Typically, people will fail or make a few mistakes along the way when learning a new skill. Failing actually helps with learning retention, because when someone fails they gain insight into why they failed and how to prevent that from happening again. Learning by doing also installs confidence in learners because the more you do something the more comfortable it becomes.
An example I saw recently was for an organization’s sales team. The training was a live sales call with pre-recorded responses that each sales rep responds to. Each has different objections that frequently come up and ask difficult questions intended to catch the sales reps off-guard. This virtual simulation creates a scenario similar to a real sales call, which will adequately prepare the sales reps to overcome these objections and answer their questions when it matters most.
Advancements in sales and technology have opened the door for innovation in course and content delivery. The method in which a learner receives that educational content can be detrimental to the success of a course as it directly relates to a learner’s retention. Hopefully the examples above have sparked some new ideas around effectively engaging your audience so they listen to and retain the knowledge you are providing!