Recently, I overheard a conversation at a learning conference when I was waiting to enter a room I was scheduled to present at. The conversation between the two individuals went like this:
“What content provides the biggest bang for your buck? That is the question I have about this e-Learning project we are starting. It’s going to take a lot of effort so knowing what we include and don’t include will be key.”
“Yes we have to look for what’s really going to move the needle so we continue getting funding.”
“I was thinking that what we need to do is make sure we give the people out on the field what they need. They have to tell us what is going to make it or break it for them.”
The question of what is the content that will be most effective within an eLearning solution is very important. Equally or perhaps more importantly is how the knowledge is going to be delivered and how it will be accessed by the learner. Consider the following: in regular face-to-face communications we have three components. They are:
- Our body language
- How we say what we say (voice qualities/characteristics)
- What we actually say or the words we chose
What we actually say represents only about 7% of the equation, with 38% going to how we say it and 55% going to the body language we use when we say it (Mehrabian and Ferris, 1967).
If we were to apply this formula when thinking of an eLearning solution, we would give more weight to how the knowledge will be accessed (55%) than to how the knowledge will be delivered (38%) or what the knowledge is that will be delivered (7%). I am not suggesting that one is more important than the other, but I am suggesting we start by thinking how the knowledge will be accessed by the learner at the point of need.
As adult learners we do not need to remember everything or memorize things, we need to be able to execute our jobs and access knowledge when we need it to support our successful execution of the task(s) at hand. Therefore, any eLearning solution that does not “follow” the learner back when they are on the job will miss the opportunity to provide the most value to that learner at the moment of need.
Now if we consider the content question again under this perspective, we could argue that the ideal content is that which will help our employees perform at their best when they are back on the job. And who knows this best? Our top performing employees. Therefore, the content can come from these employees. How? The best way I have found is through what we call “user-generated content” or self-shot short videos of these top employees sharing specific know-how and best practices to support the successful execution of a task or a step within their jobs. And how will these videos be delivered? It is up to the training department to curate, organize, tag, label, and rank the videos for easy on-the-job access. Creating employee-generated content is not hard if you create the right framework for the training department to be able to accomplish this.