3 Tips to Remain Learner-Centric in Your E-Learning Training

Using a learner-centric approach, you’ll find employees are interested in the content and more likely to incorporate what they’ve learned into their daily work lives.

As you’ve likely noticed, e-learning is growing in popularity across a wide variety of sectors. This includes, but isn’t limited to, K-12 education, association member engagement, and as we’re going to discuss, employee professional development and training.

As the market for e-learning grows, it’s challenging to know how to make your e-learning effective. However, we have one top tip to ensure engaging e-learning:

Make your e-learning learner-centric. 

This means keeping learner engagement at the heart of your content. While learning objectives are important, too many instructional designers focus more on the objective than the learner. Who is taking the course? What do they need? And how can we design so that the majority of learners apply the learning?

When it comes to employee training and professional development, the value of the learner-centric approach can’t be overstated. Imagine your employees experiencing the content in the context of their own environment. Training that actually relates to the work they do. Using a learner-centric approach, you’ll find employees are interested in the content and more likely to incorporate what they’ve learned into their daily work lives.

Tips to Keep in Mind

At Artisan E-Learning, we work with nonprofit and for-profit clients to create effective e-learning. From our expansive experience across both sectors, we’ve collected a few key tips to help you create learner-centric e-learning courses:

  1. Create a learner persona.
  2. Simulate real-world experiences.
  3. Personalize the experience.

Are you ready to create content that truly centers learners in the experience? Let’s get started.

Create a Learner Persona

If you’ve been in Learning and Development (L&D) for more than five minutes, you’ve come across the age-old problem of trying to design courses intended to be a perfect fit for every learner. These assignments come masked in phrases such as “enterprise-wide training” or “used for onboarding and reboarding” or “we need an overview of.” You spend months developing a course and find that in trying to meet everyone’s needs, you’ve created a generic course that’s likely not engaging most of your learners.

Instead of designing for all learners, create a learner persona. It seems counter-intuitive, but it’s been working for marketers and salespeople for decades. The idea is to create a primary persona to use as your litmus test for the training. It takes time to craft a usable persona, but it’s worth it. When stakeholders agree on a persona, they are saying, “If this learner gets it, by extension, we believe other learners will, too.” Your primary persona helps guide decisions throughout the training. You’ll find yourself asking things such as:

  • “Does Jovial Janet need to know this to be effective at her job?”
  • “Will Go-Get-’Em Gail be able to complete this simulation without having previous experience?
  • “Is this too elementary for Experienced Edward?”

Using a persona throughout the process leads to learner-centric courses that engage many more learners than the all-too-common, dull enterprise-wide training they took last year.

Simulate Real-World Experiences

If you want learners talking about your courses in the breakroom, simulate real-world experiences. Let the learner interact, make decisions, and experience consequences! Every time you present learners with a challenge, you invite them to:

  1. Reflect on what they already know.
  2. Take in new material.
  3. Solve problems or navigate applicable scenarios.

Design courses that allow learners to apply their experience and new-found knowledge.

Let’s consider a relevant example. Your job is to design a simulation where learners have to navigate challenges while working from home. How do you make that simulation learner-centric?

Maybe you could simulate a Zoom meeting and have learners identify behaviors that engage (a manager asking direct questions) and behaviors that distract (TVs on in the background).

Perhaps you could include an ergonomic assessment of makeshift workstations.

What about building a simulation where the learner has to manage the “new interruptions”? An instant message dings, a roommate interrupts, or an at-home office mate is loudly barking.

Compare this type of learning to didactic training full of multiple-choice knowledge checks.

Another way simulations shine is when they empower learners to practice a skill without consequences (just check out this example of immersive e-learning). A well-designed simulation goes a long way in ensuring learners absorb the content.

Personalize the Experience

Once again, we can apply to e-learning what marketing companies have done all along. Personalize the experience. There’s really no better way to create learner-centric content.

Let’s explore two ways to personalize the learner experience: branching scenarios and gamification.

Branching Scenarios

Branching scenarios are the ultimate way to personalize your e-learning courses. Like a create-your-own mystery book, learners explore various “paths” that “branch” from the main topic. Learners make decisions and experience consequences. It’s a great way to design for soft skills where there’s more than one right answer.

With branching scenarios, learners navigate through your courses at their own pace. This level of autonomy creates an incredibly learner-centric experience. And you don’t have to lose the foundational training your learners need. You can teach through debriefing their choices and help them make better ones in the rest of the course and in real life.

The great news is, anyone can create a branching scenario with a tool as simple as PowerPoint. Learn how here.

Gamification

Anyone who’s created a Bitmoji knows the joy of personalizing a text or reply in social media. The same holds true for learners. E-learning developers who gamify their courses know learners love to select or create avatars. Even simply adding their names to a course makes some learners feel more connected.

Gamification offers other opportunities for personalization. Leaderboards are a great way to increase engagement as learners want to see how they progress compared to their colleagues. Digital badges allow learners to personalize their workspace. All of these techniques work together to make your courses so much more than a bulleted list of learning objectives followed by didactic content.

Whether you’re creating e-learning to further the professional development of your association’s members, or you’re crafting internal training for your corporation’s employees, remaining learner-centric is key. With these strategies, you’ll be off to a great start.

Amy Morrisey is the president of Artisan E-Learning and serves as Sales & Marketing manager. Morrisey started with Artisan as a contract writer/instructional designer. She was Artisan’s Production manager for four years and helped the team to double its capacity. As president, she stays focused on maintaining the high standards clients have grown to expect. She believes that staying close to Artisan’s clients, people, and work is a smart way to do that. One of her favorite things to do in the e-learning world is jump in with a client to write a storyboard that is creative and application-based. Before working with Artisan, Morrisey spent 17 years in corporate training and development, predominantly teaching leadership development and coaching teams and executives. She currently serves on the board of ATD Detroit. 

Amy Morrisey is the President of Artisan E-Learning and serves as Sales & Marketing Manager. Amy started with Artisan as a contract writer/instructional designer. She was our Production Manager for four years and helped the team to double its capacity. As President, she stays focused on maintaining the high standards our clients have grown to expect. She believes that staying close to our clients, our people, and our work is a smart way to do that. One of her favorite things to do in the e-learning world is jump in with a client to write a storyboard that is creative and application-based. Before working with Artisan, Amy spent 17 years in corporate training and development predominantly teaching leadership development and coaching teams and executives. She currently serves on the board of ATD Detroit.