Using Technology To Improve The Learning Experience And Training Development
Has the use of digital technology—including desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and other devices—changed how do people learn? And, if we believe the use of technology has impacted learning, how do we harness the power of new technologies to deliver learning experiences that are effective and engaging?
It’s very important to address these issues as we continue to experience remote and hybrid workplaces supporting a distributed workforce. And while these are somewhat broad questions, we can begin to find the answers we need by asking the journalistic questions: we can examine the who, what, where, when, why, and how of learning to get a sense of the impact technology is having and how that needs to inform our learning design.
Learning Design For Effective Digital Experiences
So, who are our learners? In general, technology has certainly changed expectations around learning, as people have come to be immersed by the availability of digital experiences that are accessible, flexible, and engaging. Therefore, because of the ready availability of information through our mobile devices, we can say that our learning audience is larger and savvier than before.
Where and when we learn has also changed based on our use of technology. We have more options than ever for blended, asynchronous, and synchronous learning experiences enhanced by media.
Even so, as instructional designers and performance consultants, we know the why and how we learn isn’t fundamentally different. People are still generally socially motivated learners that need context, reinforcement, and practice to confidently acquire new skills. Whether we deliver learning in person or virtually, or through a blended experience, the principles and best practices of training and development that guide instructional designers have remained consistent.
What does that mean for learning design, knowing that our learning audience still needs engaging social learning experiences built with the flexibility of technology to enhance training options? Here are some recommendations.
How Instructional Designers Are Delivering Effective Digital Learning Experiences
There are best practices that may be used within the framework of learning design to meet the expectations of our learning audience and deliver effective training. Successful learning design within organizations will include the following.
More Digital Training Options
This should include training accessible online, with resources available to download to work offline as well. A good first step is to create a website or landing page within your website that includes links to resources so that your workforce can easily find training and learning materials. You may choose to use video to conduct training, but be aware that learners will still need resources available to follow up and reinforce learning.
Updated Content Resources
Some examples would be to digitize content that was previously provided via hard copy, such as hand out on-the-job aids, reference guides, and other materials. Digitizing your content allows learners to view the content while working, which increases situational relevance. You may also need to update digital resources to make them more engaging visually, and easier to read by breaking up the text into sections (if needed) that are easier to search and navigate. Too much scrolling through endless blocks of text is tough on the eyes and hard to refer back to specific points while reviewing and processing the presented material.
Be Sure To Add Social And Interactive Elements To Digital Training
This can be as simple as allowing for use of video with time taken to answer questions, giving real-time feedback, and allowing for discussion. Participation is key to motivating and encouraging engagement. Discussion post boards, chat features, and group messaging also allow for social engagement.
Design Any New Digital Content With Equity In Mind
Take under advice the unique needs of your workforce. Consider the user experience in your design, and you will automatically address the motivation of your learners—which is key to building an effective training. (Motivated learners learn better.)
Don’t Overload The Attention Span Of Your Audience
Long presentations without opportunity for participation make it difficult for most learners to stay engaged. Likewise, too many digital bells and whistles in your design can overload your audience and distract. Strike the right balance using good UX design and microlearning principles when needed.
To meet the needs of the distributed workforce, many of whom are already technically savvy and used to accessing online resources to acquire information, we must design training and learning delivery methods with technology in mind. That means we must make our training flexible, easy, equitable, and engaging through the use of interactive elements and good design.