When a hammer is the only instructional tool that you have, it’s not long before you start seeing your curriculum as a set of nails. The problem with this dynamic is that learning solutions typically don’t fit into just one mold. Some of them are nails, but others are more like thermonuclear reactors. Add to that the diverse learning style of those who have enrolled in your course, and suddenly that hammer is looking like more of a liability than an asset.
Learning technology is no different than the physical tools in your garage. It’s tempting to reach blindly into the whirlpool of eLearning buzzwords and invest in the first option that you manage to pull out—it’s all tech, and tech is on-trend, right?—but choosing the wrong tool for your individualized job can have disastrous effects; a lot like the results of trying to repair that thermonuclear reactor with only your trusty hammer. We’re lucky to be living in an era where so much eLearning technology is available to us, but that sheer amount of choice has made it much more important for instructional designers to do their research before deciding on the right piece of tech. So how do you go about choosing the right tool for the job?
Isolate Your Problem
Technology aside, curriculum development works best when you start from your desired solution and work your way back. It’s what professional educators Grant Wiggins and James McTighe call backward design, and it’s the best way to understand your educational needs. By deciding what skillset you’d like your learners to acquire, you can then work backwards to develop the most engaging and efficient steps to help them achieve that skillset. This is the fun part—once you’ve figured out the steps and performance benchmarks that your learners will need to complete, you get to decide what eLearning technology will best facilitate that process.
It’s tempting to go all in on technology like gamification because, on paper, it sounds like an amazing educational tool. While that is true for some industries, there are other industries that don’t lend themselves to a course where their learners compete with one another and progress based on a system of achievements. Industries that seek to treat their content with a degree of professionalism, such as those in the financial planning or medical sector, run the risk of alienating their learners with a gamified training course.
The same goes for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), which are two exciting technological avenues that have recently become more commercially accessible. AR/VR has the ability to surround the learner with interactive simulations, which are perfect for the manufacturing industry in which learners need to learn how to use potentially dangerous machinery, or the realm of public safety, which often trains learners to deal with life-threatening situations. On the other hand, AR/VR would be a bit of an overkill if you needed your learners to simply understand changes to your company’s HR policies.
Trust the Professionals
Once you’ve found the perfect technological tool for your educational needs, you’ll still need a solid implementation plan. How is a gamified course going to meet your specific learning objectives? What kind of AR/VR module will help your learners improve their efficiency and performance in the long run? The instructional design teams at Allen Communication can answer these questions for you. Integrating technology with learning solutions is what Allen Communication does best. We pride ourselves on our ability to use innovative technology to meet the needs our clients have illustrated for us.
Designed to Engage
Training is a complex endeavor, and isolating your learners’ goals is only the beginning. Once you know what you want your learners to know, let us step in and work with you on a technologically innovative learning solution that is tailor-made for your learners. In addition to innovative technology and educational theory, Allen Communication creates courses that look and feel fresh. Over the last month, we’ve been obsessed with discussing the importance of using design elements in instructional courses—take a moment to see how we draw upon design principles to enhance our learning solutions:
- 5 Design Techniques to Improve Upon Online Learning
- Usability in Online Learning Platforms: Best Practices to Help You Get It Right
- Pay Attention! Adult Learners Need Engaging Course Design
- Enhancing eLearning Through Improved Interactivity
As we are always investing in ways to help learners engage with their content, we’ll also be hosting a webinar September 27th on how to Maximize Onboarding Impact Through Innovation and Scale. And be sure to check back for more! We’re currently working with our team of tech innovators to prepare a webinar that will discuss the potential of AR/VR in eLearning.