This post is the third in a series about innovation in elearning. Customized elearning can offer great value when well-aligned to your learning goals. Read on to learn about the balance between innovation and simplicity.
We all agree that elearning is a great tool when the concept you want to convey is a skill. But how do you gather the knowledge you need to execute a particular skill?
The answer is often content curation.
In a basic sense, most companies pay employees to do things, not to know things. With the use of simulations, case studies, scenarios, and application activities, elearning helps users gain, retain, and apply the skills they need to do job tasks. That task-specific training won’t help employees, however, who don’t have the knowledge they need to cope in situations they weren’t trained for.
Traditionally, many employers have expected incoming or advancing employees to gain knowledge on their own. Typical learning sources included on-the-job training and the study of industry and company reference materials. With the advent of YouTube and easily accessible answers to every internet query, however, the abundance of both useful and inaccurate information at everyone’s fingertips has multiplied the number of sources–but not made clear which are most reliable.
The good news is that the learning industry is making a wonderful shift towards curation as well as the creation of knowledge.
Curating content in one place is a simple way for users to locate and learn from up-to-date, accurate, and helpful information with more efficiency than they would get from searching with Google. Elearning can team with content curation for knowledge-based performance support—helping employees locate and effectively use resources such as job aids, infographics, and glossaries. By delivering the curated content within social learning platforms, you can effectively gather best practices around access and reuse and share user-designed resources.
Using elearning to convey flashcard-style lists of facts and knowledge is unnecessary and not particularly effective. By contrast, using it to teach the problem solving skills users need to find answers and determine whether the answers they find are reliable and relevant promotes the use of accurate knowledge on the job and gives you control over where that knowledge comes from in this age of abundant digital information.
So, when you find yourself considering elearning as a tool for conveying knowledge, step back and think about where that knowledge already resides. Which brings us back to the heart of this series: Keep it simple or innovate? Curating all that valuable knowledge in one place gives you a resource you can build on for the future. You can start by identifying the skills learners need to access said knowledge, sift through and get rid of outdated or inapplicable knowledge, and apply the knowledge that relates first-hand to real-life work. This prep gives you the ability to focus your elearning objectives on problem solving skills that you haven’t tackled yet.
As we all think about what content belongs in an elearning course, it’s important to distinguish between skills and knowledge. In many cases, others will have done the knowledge work for you. After all, even the most interesting information we want in our elearning courses is not novel. The old adage is true—there is nothing new under the sun.