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The Best Training Mimics Recreational Technology

This was originally posted on on February 4, 2019

How Mimicking Recreational Technology Can Help You Customize Training

As training professionals, it’s typical to frame our conversations about technology with software, buzzwords, and trends that are circling the Learning and Development industry. Sometimes, we default our creativity to the landscape of our Learning Management System (LMS), adopting a linear perspective on how our learners interact with technology and how we can apply performance support more empathetically. When you take your creative conversations outside of your software or LMS and explore how adult learners are using technology as recreation, you’ll discover more ways to put your learners first. For example, putting your learners first might mean going mobile-first with your next design.

Access to Technology

Let’s start with this question: How do your learners use technology in their downtime, and why do they choose certain platforms to interface with? Now, if your mind just went straight to your audience, that’s good.

  1. Who are your learners?
  2. What can you be sure of in terms of their exposure to modern technology?

You might be thinking that the rest of this post is going to delve into the potential of Augmented Reality or machine learning, however, let’s scale it back and first talk about access. When you think about access to technology, here’s a question you might ask yourself: What can you almost guarantee your learners have access to in terms of technology as recreation? Things like Netflix and Spotify should come to mind almost instantaneously. According to Pew Research Center, “in 2017 about 6 in 10 young adults in the U.S. primarily use online streaming to watch TV”. Further, Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora have millions of paid subscribers around the world.

We all know that social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook take up a lot of peoples’ screen time. People have 24/7 access to these platforms, and so do your learners. When was the last time you got your screen-time notification on your smartphone or tablet? The point here is that people are integrated into User Experiences every day, and we can use their inherent knowledge to streamline your digital training experiences.

Applications for eLearning

So, how does this apply to eLearning and training? Let’s take a moment to think about the first-time user tutorials that many platforms and apps utilize. When was the last time you took the time to swipe through a tutorial before getting started? The option to skip those tutorials is common and can be favorable for people. Why? Because in today’s world, learners can trust, and even rely on, the User Experience. Think about it, learners can trust their recreational technology to remember what they like and to give them options to customize accordingly.

Wayfinding in Recreational Tech

Consider Spotify, for example, without a tutorial, a user can typically figure out how to create and share their own playlists, find music that relates to their preferences, and more. Now, Spotify will even gather personal statistics for users’ most played songs. Similarly, learning how to post on Instagram or Twitter feels simple to active social media users, even if they’re on a new platform for the first time. Not only is the User Experience easy to interact with but people are learning skills from recreating through technology without guidance or learning objectives. How does recreational technology teach our learners, and how can we apply what we know about that User Experience to our different types of training solutions?

Innovation as an Expectation

A quality User Experience is becoming an expectation for users, which puts pressure on the eLearning industry to pay attention to what users choose to interact with and apply those principles to learning experience design. It has become first nature to interact with technology seamlessly and, in fact, learn things, sometimes about yourself, without even realizing it(thanks to certain algorithms). A lot of what people learn through these platforms can be rooted in social learning theory since they often learn by watching how others interact and use the same technology. There are also ease factors like simple options/navigation, look and feel, and customization that draws and excites learners. All these elements challenge us to put innovation at the forefront of our learning design.

Ready to Elevate the Experience?

As the classroom or training environment exists digitally, it’s becoming more important than ever that we pay attention to the recreational technology learners willingly choose to interact with outside of training. Customization in training is not a new subject. However, as you think about building training, how can you start applying what you know your learners enjoy, and elevate their learner experience, drive behavioral changes, and ultimately increase performance? Take these questions back to your teams as you map an upcoming training initiative. Remember, using this practical knowledge to innovate and drive training solutions motivates your learners to invest more in your training, which ultimately results in a greater impact on your business.