How often do we design learning experiences thinking about how the learners will use the knowledge when they are back on the job?
Many custom eLearning companies will emphasize the need to create great learning experiences. Elearning consultants may emphasize that multimedia, animations and other wow factors will lead individuals to have a meaningful experience. However, in a corporate training and development department or workplace learning setting, the objective is to impact performance in a way that advances the organization’s objectives. Therefore, should we as instructional designers concern ourselves more with creating a great learning experience or do we focus more on enabling the performance that needs to happen after the learning experience? In our experience working with leading organizations that range from multinationals to progressive startups, we have seen that ensuring the success of the learners when the time comes to act is the most important function of the custom eLearning or custom training and development solution. The fact that the learning experience was great will be meaningless if it does not equip the learner to succeed when they are back on the job.
Anticipating how learners will use the knowledge when they are confronted with the realities and pressures of the job, can guide the instructional designer to incorporate specific strategies to leverage this context and to incorporate informational, procedural or decision-making job-aids at the point of need. The instructional designer’s input can and should go beyond the learning experience.