Let’s face it: Learning is tough. It’s messy. It’s effortful. And of course, it takes time. As learning professionals, we all know these truths, but the realities of our organizations and our learners often dictate otherwise. We focus on one-off “events” (e.g. online courses, ILT, bloated PowerPoint decks, etc.) in the hopes that something will stick and transfer of learning will occur, but everyone familiar with the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve knows just how much is retained in the days and weeks after those events. The need for journey-based learning is an imperative for organizations looking to secure better training ROI. Of course, these habits are difficult to break, so here are five ways you can start moving the needle toward journey-based learning within your organization.
When you're a full-service learning design & production agency, you get all kinds of requests:
"Do you do games?"
"Can you include some CGI?" (We are not a hollywood studio.)
"Can you fix our LMS?" (A personal favorite of mine.)
But one that's becoming increasingly popular is, "Can you do individualized learning paths?"
Individualized learning has always been the dream. The only things that have ever gotten in the way of achieving this have been budget, time and resources (so, basically everything). But with the growing maturity of technology fused into everything we do, this dream is alive and kicking. Yes, we "do" individualized learning paths. We call it Dynamic Learning and it is revolutionizing the way our customers are thinking about learning, in the most unexpected ways.
Before my life as an instructional designer, I spent years in the classroom as a college and university professor. There are some things about it I will never miss: the irregular hours, which can be crazy-making; the first-year students, whose attitudes range from Tracy-Flick-enthusiastic to Jeff-Spicoli-jaded; and the marking, which tends to pile up like psychic scar tissue on an otherwise-healthy brain.
Here at SwissVBS, we take pride in many things: our talented team of designers, writers, and programmers; our commitment to customer-driven learning; our obsessive attention to detail.
But if you were to ask our employees what accomplishment they’re most proud of, one answer would probably come up again and again: “My ping pong game.”
We live in an age of lists. Social media, news cycles, blogs - everything is presented to us now in the "Top 10 ways to do X." By design, it's a great way to catch your attention and a highly consumable way to access information. So whenever I look at the "Top eLearning trends for 20XX" I often think: Is this real? or just click bait?
When reading those type of articles, I always think: What's the point?
If I'm leading an L&D unit within my organization, I'm not interested in this year's trend. Trends work for the tiny tweaks you make to your overall learning culture, but when you have to build a 5-year L&D strategy for your org and have to think about long term infrastructure investments (hardware, software, resources), being trendy doesn't make the cut, but being right - in terms of knowing where the ideas around L&D are moving - does.
Unless you took the last couple of weeks off and spent your vacation on a lonely island far away from civilization you must have heard about Pokémon Go – the game that spread around the globe like a virus.
In case you’re not infected (yet): Pokémon Go is a mobile game using augmented reality, i.e. instead of creating an entire virtual world, virtual elements are added to the real world by mixing software with the phone’s camera and GPS data. In this case, the ‘virtual elements’ are cute little monsters – Pokémon, and the point of the game is to capture as many of these creatures as possible. They’ll show up on the mobile phone’s screen once the player comes near a critical spot (e.g. a public park or a monument), so the idea is - to borrow the game developer’s own words - to let people explore their surroundings while on the hunt for Pokémon.
But what does this have to do with Learning & Development? The catchwords here are “mobile”, “augmented reality” and “gamification”, or rather a combination of all three of them.
We hear it all the time in our industry: To succeed, eLearning needs to be engaging, fun, even different.
At SwissVBS, we tend to agree. At our core, we believe that learning shouldn’t feel like “capital L” Learning – something that’s good for you, but not necessarily good. As an instructional designer, I always say that my job is to create immersive experiences.
It’s a noble aim, but have you ever stopped to think about what “immersive” really means? It’s a term that’s thrown around so much that its meaning can sometimes get lost. What exactly is immersion, and what are its essential ingredients?
When you’re truly immersed, you forget that you are participating in an artificial construct. Think back to the most fun you’ve ever had playing a video game, whether it’s Grand Theft Auto or Pac-Man. You know that feeling when you look up at the clock after a few minutes and realize that hours have gone by? That’s immersion. It’s giving yourself over entirely to an experience, losing yourself in a constructed reality. For instructional designers, we need to be thinking constantly about how to reproduce that feeling, regardless of context or subject matter.
For a digital onboarding program for a major organization specializing in household consumer goods, we wanted to recreate the anxiety and excitement of the first day on the job. The end result was an experience that mimicked what a first day would look like through the eyes of a new employee – from a first-person point of view.
Luckily, a lot of research has been done to help us break down the various things we can do to create these kinds of experiences.
Ah those long-term memories...
Where the Wild Things Are and The Story of Ferdinand - two books that I haven’t read in decades but remember with great clarity. Why can I recall those books so clearly 30 years later, but struggle to remember what I ate for dinner last Sunday? Why can I remember the guitar solo note for note to Hotel California and all the lyrics, but can’t remember the emails I sent out yesterday?
Why do we never forget how to ride a bicycle? I haven’t been on one in 10 years, but I’m confident I’d still remember. Why? Why do we never forget? When I reflect on this powerful experience that most of us have gone through, I always think back to that key moment: the day the training wheels came off. Arguably one of the greatest moments in our childhoods, that was the culminating point in a long journey. In fact, that moment is so vivid in our memories, that we often focus more on that moment and not the long and tireless journey that it took us to get there.