Posted by on January 7th, 2011
A member of a Learning & Development team in a large consultancy was planning to “enhance the usage of their e-learning portal and bring in more awareness about this mode of learning”. He was looking for “material on enhancing an online training mode, and any mailer/ initiative that could help make this a success”.
I found myself feeling moved to offer up some thoughts. Here’s what I said;
Your query / request is easier to answer if you can clarify what “enhancing the usage” means within the context of your current organisation’s project. There are at least four dimensions for enhancing usage - each of which can be addressed uniquely. The dimensions are; quality, frequency, breadth and depth. While these dimensions are of course inter-related, each dimension requires your direct focus if you are going to establish the success metrics by which you can measure your project’s progress and ultimate achievements (and value).
I will hazard a guess and respond to an assumption that by “more awareness about this mode of learning” you are responding to someone’s request to increase the breadth of the “usage” community. So in this response, I’ll speak briefly to expanding usage breadth.
First of all, let me say that I speak from an experience of attracting circa 30,000 users to our digital learning medium out of a target group of circa 50,000 people. While the need for our learning-related work was initially recognised and requested by the Chief Executive, it was entirely up to our own efforts to make a go of it. We had to look to our own devices to attract and then satisfy people interested in learning what our team had expertise in. We soon realised that we could not personally, directly reach out and teach each one of the 50,000 people in our “target zone”. So we began exploring ways to become available via digital media.
Having your eLearning modules available is one thing. Making them attractive to those who come to have a look at them and hopefully use and learn from them is another.
But invoking enough curiosity in them in the first place, so that people decide to come to have a look at them is yet again another challenge - and a primary one. Without enough initial curiosity across your target group, you’ll find yourself recalling the old question, “If a tree falls in the forest but no one is there to witness it, did it make any sound?” In the words of my most recent client, “we need to get loud”.
So you need to ask your self variations of the following question, “What is my target group currently listening out for? What will sound like music to their ears? What will draw them out of the crowd and into my auditorium” Then learn to play that tune, to sing that song, to direct that chorus. You need to become something like the siren call that causes them to look outside the blinkered pathways they are daily trotting along on. What will cause them to turn their head and look at you and your eLearning portal?
After a number of trials and tribulations, we discovered that for us, the simple answer to those questions was to make sure that the sincere inspiration that our subject matter experts felt about their subjects was conveyed within the modules themselves. Then we did the same within the communications about those modules being available.
And the very best way to capture that inspiration was using video. So our eLearning modules became video-centric and our communications and interactions about the modules being available utilised extracts from the video footage. We provided 45 second teasers of what the experience of each subject matter expert would be like. Over the next few years, 30,000 people came into our port as a result.