Have you ever taken an elearning course and thought: Hmmmm, this may be helpful for some of my colleagues, but this really isn’t covering stuff that will help with my job?
As learning designers, we never want a learner to sit in front of a screen wondering just how much of the information they should retain and how much they can flush out of their memory banks by the end. Creating learning experiences that allow a learner to choose the content they’re exposed to—by selecting their role at the company for example—not only saves time and money for the company, but it helps increase the learner’s engagement through content that is relevant and meaningful (two pillars of adult learning theory!).
Learning Pathways in Practice
What does this look like in practice? Recently, we created a module for people who work with therapy animals. At the start, the learners are immediately prompted to select a pathway focused only on animals with which they’re working. Learners were able to move straight into the portion of the module that is applicable to them. If they need to review more than one, they have the opportunity to do so. Finally, before they can complete this particular module, the learner has to pass an assessment based on the information.
At Endurance Learning, I’m a member of the team who checks each navigational path for functionality and accuracy, and when I ran through each of these paths, it took me 45-60 minutes per path. Imagine if a learner had to do each and every one of these paths even if it didn’t apply to them.
Imagine if a learner just needed very specific information or instructions on a topic, yet they received a generic overview of everything.
When we approach a learning experience with this in mind—making sure we are providing each learner with content and skill-building material that meets their individual needs—we are building a better relationship with our learners and addressing their needs in a more personalized way.
Learning Pathways Mixed with Required Information
Of course, there may be times when all learners need to receive a certain quantity of information that is the same, regardless of role, while various groups of learners may also need some content specific to their role or circumstance. An example of how we addressed this challenge was to offer each learner an individual path where necessary, and then weave their learning path back to more general information that would be the same for everyone.
The key takeaway I want to make sure you leave this blog post with is that it doesn’t take much to personalize a learning experience. The next time you’re asked to develop an elearning module for a variety of audiences, think about using paths for various learners to navigate your course and to get exactly what they need.