Forget for a moment whether you are a native or immigrant, digitally speaking. Cease your Learning Management System envy for a minute. The truth is we are all living together in this ever developing digital world. There are many things that will probably remain an issue for years to come, and well past the roll out of the NBN!
- So much research has emphasised the differences between learners – but what about the similarities between us all?
- So many blogs, software programs and companies highlight the possible features and outcomes from using e-learning – but what about the principles of effective training and learning (online or otherwise)?
There are things that can be done that will support not just digital immigrants, but because they are just good training practices in general will support everyone.
Here are our top 10 tips to support e-learning in the realities of our current digital environment:
- Run some workshops or test groups to establish a baseline for the learners expected to use the e-learning. Search wide, high and low – get a good cross section. This helps identify issues with devices, internet speeds, security issues and general technology literacy skills. This research will be invaluable as you develop all future e-learning.
- Develop a standard format and set of features. Look up the term skeuomorphism and consider your icon design. Maintain a degree of consistency across e-learning developed, especially with regards to navigation. For those who take extra time to get used to the setup, once they have learnt how it goes having consistent navigation will help them progress more efficiently through future e-learning.
- Build escalation of design and complexity into e-learning. Just like when learning practical skills, start with the basics then add extra features and more complex interactions/ expectations progressively.
- Consider responsive design as a part of the roll out. While some people may struggle using the desktop, they might be more confident with their tablet device. Some learning management systems and e-learning software will also streamline things for tablet devices, which may make navigation easier for some people.
- Break up the learning. Many digital immigrants (and many digital natives!) prefer to access things as bite sized learning rather than one lengthy course. This can be done in a few ways – such as breaking a large course down into smaller modules and topics. Some agencies have also developed a Wiki/YouTube style approach which takes content and skills out from a course and makes them available as independent “bites” of learning or reference as needed.
- Limit or break up text. The brain of many digital immigrants are actually wired differently! It is literally harder to absorb information from a screen. With the preference of text and interactives held by many digital natives, developing e-learning that incorporates a high percentage of visuals is better for everyone.
- Consider the integration of technology such as social media. This provides opportunities for support and to build community. Learners can ask questions, seek clarification, discuss concepts and also get some help about how to access and use the e-learning. Many organisations, especially those with volunteers such as RFS, CFA and SES have already established pages to support members and trainers.
- Invest in online support – whether this be a formal or informal arrangement. Ensure there is a point of contact in the training department (who is reliable in answering questions promptly!), consider how the IT help desk will support e-learning, and think about asking for online volunteers who are willing to be contacted directly (maybe by snapchat, messenger or email) for one-on-one mentoring and support.
- Don’t forget to talk about the WHY! Spread the message: Why is something being made as e-learning – does it save learner’s time? Why is a certain activity included in e-learning? How does it help develop skill or understanding?
- Persist. Persist some more. With such diverse organisations there is always going to be people who struggle and resist. Good news – time marches on. More digital natives join our organisations every year, and every year that passes is extra time for digital immigrants to learn skills and gain confidence.