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Feature: Understand Your Goals


Renee Raper of Lighthouse looks at how to get to the heart of your organisation's e-learning needs.

E-learning is about learning and not technology, the technology is an enabler - we trainers must insist that the learning experience drives the technology decisions and not be hijacked by the IT and software. For example, we have recently received an invitation to tender for an e-learning programme which had over 20 pages relating to the required technology and only half a page relating to the learning content! And let’s not forget the case of the UKeU.

Research indicates that when implementing e-learning, only 20% of the issues relate to the technology, the other 80% are softer people issues – yet it is often the classic 80/20 rule with most of our energies spent on the 20% that relates to IT.

To implement successful e-learning you need to get closer to the heart of the organisation and the learner. So start by asking:
What are the organisation's needs, issues and culture?
What are the individual learner needs, abilities and motivation?
What is success?

Your first step is to research the organisation, learners and stakeholders so you get an understanding of their requirements and issues. You should also assess the ‘readiness’ of the organisation and people for utilising technology in the learning process. Some companies put pre-requisites on e-learning based on computer literacy, but maybe we should also include introductions to study skills and learning styles.

Get learners involved from the start of any e-learning initiative by raising awareness and communicating strategy. Make the message clear and memorable using all channels, including emails, newsletters, meetings and don’t underestimate the influence of the line manager.

The learning should be engaging to be effective, so make it personal and motivating – follow the Ufi pledge for a learner-centred approach and ensure that ‘ the time, place, pace and style of learning’ responds to learner needs.

Design the interface to encourage and engage your learners. Whilst consistent corporate branding and structure reinforces corporate messages and helps learners find their way about, it can also lead to utter boredom as all e-learning looks the same. There are some brilliant examples around, if you are a closet rock star, try out guitar port <a href=" which allows you to plug your guitar into your computer and learn!

Even health and safety training can be more engaging, for example, the BBC has recently developed an e-learning health and safety programme based on the game Cluedo. Maybe you think your learning seems a little mundane in comparison, but one of the fastest growing areas of e-learning is gardening - forgive the pun – and no offence to gardeners!

Learning is social so build communities that will support sharing, collaborating and helping. This doesn’t mean just adding a discussion forum, although it will help, but exploring more interactive communities of practice and action learning sets. Check out the community site – The Valley of the Shadow – about the American Civil War. It has a wealth of information contributed by users of all generations about a subject close to the heart of their family history.

Don’t stop with the launch of your e-learning but keep communicating – once is not enough - you need to communicate, communicate, communicate.


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