creativeIt was a bright and glowing computer screen. The reviewer stared at it with wide eyes, frozen in terror. The association had asked for something creative, but this… Cold sweat formed on the reviewer’s brow as their muscles tightened. The deadline for this eLearning was coming up fast and there was no way it could be released to the members like this. It worked just fine but the presentation style was- it just didn’t fit. Maybe there was enough time to put the content in one of the old templates.

With Halloween in sight I thought I’d address something that seems to excite people when they’re talking about it but can be frightening once they see it. I’m talking about innovative, creative, or “different” eLearning. Let’s follow our petrified reviewer and see what’s got them so shaken up.

Be Able to Explain What “Creative” Means to You

The course was about preventing food poisoning, like it was supposed to be. But it was from the perspective of a Salmonella bacterium who was complaining about all the different things humans do to try killing him.

It’s critical that you and your course developer (whether it’s an external vendor or someone in your association) have the same creative vision. If you just tell them to “build a creative course about ___” what you get back may be very different from the loose idea you may have had in mind but never told anyone about. The alternate course could be incredibly effective and engaging, but if you’re not expecting it it’ll probably come as quite a shock. Specific descriptions, sample images or courses, and frequent communication are a must to keep everyone on the same page. Don’t forget, you always have the option of asking your developer for their recommendation. Keep an open mind and see what they have to say. It may open up a whole new set of possibilities.

See What Your Learners Think

No one was going to take this seriously. Talking bacteria? It was like something out of a Saturday morning cartoon, even if what it said was all technically correct. This didn’t come across as professional at all.

One person’s reaction isn’t necessarily going to be the same as the next person’s. Since your association’s eLearning is for the members letting them weigh in is a good way to find out what’s acceptable to them. They may surprise you. You certainly don’t have to wait until after a course is built though. You could present them with brief, 2-3 sentence descriptions of course ideas and have them vote for their favorites. Then the winning idea could be the one you pass on to the developer. I don’t recommend having prospective learners go through storyboards though, that can be time consuming and they’re not always easy to read. Having a focus group or series of test learners go through the preview version of the course can also help you get feedback on the content density and user experience as well as their general impressions.

Ways to Ease into Innovation

To the reviewer’s horror, an emergency conference call revealed that everyone else was willing to give it a try this one time. Much to the reviewer’s surprise, the course was a hit. Members rated it highly and left comments calling it “refreshing” and “a pleasantly unexpected point of view.”

Trying something new can be stressful, but there are ways to try new eLearning methods that make the experience easier. Here are a few ideas:

  • Start applying a new approach to just one standalone lesson or course to see if it works.
  • Make sure the eLearning’s description clearly states that it uses a different approach. That way your learners are less likely to “walk in” expecting the usual.
  • Include navigation instructions if the navigation is different from what your learners are used to.

Creative new approaches to eLearning can be frightening at first. Seeing eye-to-eye with your developer, running new ideas by your learners, and introducing innovation a little bit at a time will help your association give alternate approaches a try. What has your association done to try creative, new eLearning approaches?

If you’d like to learn more about custom eLearning course creation from Digitec Interactive, visit our eLearning page.

If you’d like to read more about instructional design best practices, check out the rest of this author’s blogs.

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