!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Clark Quinn on eLearning

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Clark Quinn on eLearning

As a quick refresher on how to approach developing eLearning, the "Seven Steps to Better E-learning" laid out by Clark Quinn serve well.

Step 1: Make sure you are designing training that will equip learners to do something differently — better — following the training. It's not adequate simply to impart new knowledge. It is essential to answer the "so what" question by pointing learners toward appropriate application of the skills and concepts they are learning.

Step 2: Streamline your content. To do so, adopt layouts that have ample white space, understandable bullet points, emphasis of key words and concepts (e.g., through bolding), and attractive, meaningful use of color.

Step 3: Get learners emotionally engaged. In the introduction to the training, focus on how the course will help the learner. Set expectations about what lies ahead. For example, provide advance warning of particularly challenging material, so the learner knows to slow down and not be anxious about perhaps having to backtrack in order to master the material.

Step 4: Provide context and a conceptual framework. Make sure learners understand why a particular concept is important and how it relates to the other material they are learning. This is vital for retention and for appropriate application of learning.

Step 5: Provide ample examples. The examples should include instances in which an employee makes a mistake and has to correct the problem. Quinn argues, "Good examples indicate the context, model the underlying thought processes as well as the actual steps, and connect the application of the concept to varying contexts. Making them meaningful in an emotionally satisfying way, including good story telling, is an additional enhancement."

Step 6: Provide well-calibrated opportunities to practice. The exercises learners do should be neither too easy nor too hard for the typical members of the learning audience. Application of concepts should be embedded in relevant scenarios, so learners get experience applying their learning in meaningful contexts. Quinn likes using games, with the level of difficulty gradually increasing.

Step 7: Provide closure that promotes retention. If possible, summarize specifics of the individual learner's performance, so he/she is reminded of areas of strength and areas where mastery is not yet complete. Explain how the learner will be able to continue practicing back on the job. Finally, remind the user of the larger context — how the skills learned will contribute to achieving his/her organization's goals and mission.