E-Learning Gets Personal and More Effective

Unless you have a zero digital footprint, you have probably noticed that the sweater you browsed at an online store or some topic you have researched shows up within hours on your paid feeds in Facebook and in other targeted display ads. It’s not a freaky coincidence: it’s marketing 2.0.

We are in a world that is highly personalized: our online shopping experiences, our social media interactions and more. This personalization allows us to get what we want, when we want it and eliminates a lot of the noise that we’re not interested in. It only stands to reason that our educational experiences would follow a similar pattern.

“As instructional designer Karen Sieczka notes, learner-centered training is well tailored to how adults learn — rather than “force-feeding information,” the goal is to provide learners with knowledge and skills that they can immediately apply to their jobs. The information needs be realistic, relevant, and delivered in the way adults learn best. The benefits of learner-centered instruction are many: first and foremost, in terms of creating valuable learning experiences, it seems to work very, very well.”

Why ‘traditional’ information feeding doesn’t always work

Learning systems are sometimes thought to force-feed ‘one-size-fits-all’ content to unwilling learners, content that is devised and decided on by a ‘distant’ training department that is out of tune with the current realities of the staff or others that they are meant to be serving. Nothing could be further from truth in e-Learning – the adaptability of the programming as well as its flexibility allows authors to produce timely content and allows the learner to pick and choose what elements are important to them at that moment.

Humans tend to learn better when what they are learning is something of their choosing – it’s as if “our sensors are on alert” when we are actively curious or have some vested interest in the learning opportunity. The things we remember have relevance to our lives and our work. Just as with kids, adults don’t absorb material that is simply force-fed without a connection to something that is real to them.

And this is the true value of independent e-Learning: the learner is in the driver’s seat! The learning gives the student the keys to drive. It’s up to them to go!

Passive vs. active learning

Passive teaching is where “students are assumed to enter the course with minds like empty vessels or sponges to be filled with knowledge”

Active teaching is where “the instructor strives to create a learning environment in which the student can learn to restructure the new information and their prior knowledge into new knowledge about the content and to practice using it.”

E-Learning is perfect medium for an active learning environment, where additions to materials can be made such as: adding problem solving, role playing, games, discussion, or case study learning opportunities to training. This makes learners more likely to retain what they learned and apply the new knowledge in the workplace

Since an e-Learning author might not know each student individually and might not be able to personalize the material in advance, he or she can instead create a learning model that encourages the learner to develop ideas from new information and to take advantage of their existing understanding around a topic – then you have created active learning models. These have a far greater chance of retention than any passive model as students interact with material that is timely, relevant and more or less personalized.

What are your thoughts around this? We’d love to hear – please share in the comments section below.

Posted in e-Learning