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  • Writer's pictureSuzanne Melan

Are Your Corporate Courses in Need of a Makeover?

As with a movie critic that goes to see a movie, I imagine it’s difficult for them to sit back and enjoy a film without dissecting the good, the bad, and the ugly. As an L&D professional, it is especially difficult to take a course that is flawed from a design perspective. The intentions are there, but the execution…not so much. Each year, as with many employees in the corporate world, I find myself with a number of required course that I must take. These are important topics that cover anything from policies and procedures, soft skills, or a course on what’s important to the company’s survival. Each year I would begrudgingly click through – not because I had a problem with the actual topics, but the design left something to be desired. What do you do when another team in a completely different division is responsible for these courses? I felt helpless…until that fateful day that I had hoped for – but didn’t think could ever be a reality. I was asked to redesign the course. This was unprecedented – but I leaped at the opportunity to finally give this course a complete makeover that was long overdue!


The Before

The course had a lot of great content, but after reading screen after screen after screen – I could feel my brain overloaded as it hit its max.

I couldn’t stop – I had to complete the course. Otherwise, the course would be waiting for me for yet another day. The scenarios were good, but I’d seen the same scenarios for the past few years. The training itself was also a one-time event. This topic was one of the company’s key initiatives, yet as an employee – I was exposed to how important it was in this one-time learning event each year.


The Gaps

There were several gaps I felt needed to address to transform the course to account for the complete Active Learning Cycle – while keeping the online format in mind. For instance, how can we increase the learners retainment of concepts? How do we confirm they learned what we want them to learn? When learners go back to their day to day, how can we continue to reinforce how important this key initiative is in every interaction whether it be with a client or other co-workers?


The Treatment

Here’s how I proposed to bridge the gaps. First, I had to engage additional senses. The course didn’t incorporate the use of audio. After two weeks, learners retain only 10% of what they read, 50% of what they see and hear, and 90% of what they do. The first change was the use of audio and the reduction of on-screen text to provide a more instructionally balanced experience, as well as help with retention.


I incorporated a theme that reflects a Mentor/Mentee relationship which provided the learner with a relatable context. The fact is – given our busy schedules – most on-the job learning takes place amongst peers. A storyline with the use of several characters helped to carry the theme throughout the course.


In addition to audio, I incorporated new scenarios and exercises that will help with the initial learning event, while applying what they learned. I increased the visuals and added animation – but I still had to address how to reinforce these important concepts on an ongoing basis.


Let’s face it – we are in a social media world. Why not use this to our advantage. A SharePoint Collaboration site (with the use of Forums, Blogs, and Wikis) was integrated into the course exercises where the learner had to share best practices around the topic. I also created a strategy to incorporate the use of this site to address the learners needs beyond the initial event. This site will provide the learners with a platform to share their own experiences as well as expand their knowledge of where the industry is going on this topic. In addition – the site would provide refreshers of the content along the way. What better way to show how important this topic is by keeping it in the forefront of their minds on a regular basis! The one-time learning event may allow you to check the box for delivering learning in the moment…but it doesn’t help to provide the learner with what they need beyond the initial event.


If your company doesn’t already have a strategy on how to incorporate the use of collaboration sites in your training strategy – it may be time to start taking a hard look at how you can take advantage of these opportunities today.

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