The expansion of the internet and the overall digitization of our existence presents a very interesting contradiction: on one hand we are all online on the same platforms, sharing a common experience and on the other we are fiercely individual, personalizing every aspect of our real and technology enhanced life.
We carefully select what news we get, what channels we follow and what updates are allowed to pop up on our devices. With all the perks of global interconnectivity we manage to be in our own little bubble and sometimes even put in a lot of effort into cementing that and making sure nothing unwanted gets in. It’s a modern-day comfort zone that we care deeply about.
Learning and comfort
When talking about learning, we know it happens most effectively when we manage to get out of our cosy little box. The key, however, is to be lured out of it not aggressively yanked out so in order to facilitate adult learning, designers should do their best to personalize every experience.
The introduction of Learning Management Systems in organizations has the advantage of making all of the processes more effective and easy to track. The downside of this can easily become the overall impersonal feel – when all is translated into numbers.
To avoid this, any LMS designer ought to strive to incorporate features that will allow L&D professionals to tailor learning paths and interventions to fit the intended users.
Read more: Why each employee needs a learning path
What’s in a name?
Shakespeare wonderfully wrote about how sweet a rose will smell regardless what we call it. For people, though, names matter. Especially their own names or the nicknames they identify with.
Companies have long caught on to that and do their best to use first names in all communication with their customers – this is why I have a pet supplies business who is addressing me by my cat’s name (because I misunderstood what they were asking on the form) but generally it works well without the humorous twist.
Having a feature in the LMS that will import the name from the registration and use it instead of a generic form of addressing to the learner is step one in making it personal.
Our space is important to us. When we are talking about physical space, each individual will arrange it according to preference and taste. At work employees tend to decorate their desks with items that they like – pictures of family, figurines of favorite movie characters, mugs with funny messages and many other trinkets.
It’s important to allow for the same kind of blank space to be filled at will in e-learning as well.
The environment in which instruction takes place has great bearing on information retention so giving users a free hand in choosing colors, avatars, themes and even fonts will only increase the chances of effective learning. Taking it one step further, users may even have audio option in the case there is voice-over.
Cake before soup
Generally there is a certain order to a multiple course meal: one goes from amuse-bouche to appetizer, starter, main course and desert. Modules in e-learning are also generally thought and set up to work in a certain sequence.
Yet sometimes people are in the mood for a good chocolate mousse and then care for a hearty bisque. In the same way, some information that is comprised in what was designed as a later module may be of interest a lot sooner and a good LMS should be able to respond to user needs and provide any desired sequence while still managing to evaluate and quantify learning outcomes.
Cats vs trees
As I have mentioned before, we are very careful about what video channels we chose to follow – and the tremendous growth of online video platforms show that we watch a lot of content every day.
I admit to being one of the many cat enthusiasts out there. Seeing cute fluffy little predators bring havoc makes me smile – this time of year it is mostly felines bringing down Christmas trees.
Apart from the entertaining value, video has great teaching potential but it works best if the material is varied enough so that users can select the media content that speaks best to them. Some might prefer academic lectures, others may go for the short but information filled TED talks while a great number will find a well-made “how-to” video worthy of their time.
The LMS market is constantly expanding and there is a great deal of healthy competition between providers. Equipping the product with state of the art personalisation options can just give the competitive edge needed to stay ahead.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.