Increasing the transfer of knowledge in eLearning.
It’s more than just instructions.
What is the purpose of education? For what reason do associations and people put huge time and assets in instructive open doors every year? The majority of learning investments are made with the intention of influencing a desired outcome or change, despite the fact that many individuals have undoubtedly endured trainings that felt so meaningless and irrelevant that the same questions came to mind. The achievement of the desired outcome depends on the application of newly acquired knowledge in contexts outside of the learning environment, whether the goal is progress toward the subject mastery required to earn a degree or employee performance improvement to impact a company’s bottom line. To put it another way, in order for instruction to be effective outside of the classroom, learning transfer is required.
However, even in well-facilitated face-to-face instructional settings, effective learning transfer is actually quite challenging. Real knowledge transfer can be even more challenging when learning entirely online. Additionally, the online environment rather than the instructional design is frequently blamed when eLearning participants fail to master and apply new skills.
BEST METHODS FOR OPTIMAL LEARNING TRANSFER IN ELEARNING DESIGN
However, delivering content for virtual learning that facilitates and even speeds up learning transfer is not out of the question. Is it frequently hard? Sure. Does it necessitate a distinct and deliberate method of instructional design? Absolutely. However, it is doable. For designing eLearning to maximize learning transfer, here are five suggestions:
1. Conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the organization’s goals and the intended learner.
Although this may appear to be common sense, the frequency with which this essential initial step is either skipped or left incomplete is shocking. Understanding the learners who will be engaging with an eLearning program is essential to its design. The technical capabilities and accessibility, existing skills and skill gaps, any prior knowledge that should be utilized during the learning process (as part of instructional scaffolding), and the context in which the learners are likely to apply new knowledge are all factors that should heavily influence decisions regarding instructional design.
In addition, it is essential to have a high level of clarity regarding the organizational goals that motivate the expenditure of money on new eLearning content. It is not unheard of for a business to believe that all it needs to do to improve customer service training is to increase it, but in the end, the problem is more systemic. Still fixable, but not with the customer service training they wanted. Before taking a particular design path, don’t be afraid to ask questions that get to the why-behind-the-why. At the outset, a thorough and accurate assessment guarantees that the final product will make it easier to transfer knowledge that will actually have an impact on the organization’s desired outcomes.
2. Give people plenty of chances to practice.
Practice is the only way to guarantee learning transfer in eLearning, regardless of the content category. The terminal learning objectives of the course are based on building-block knowledge, theoretical principles, and dependent processes, so this is especially crucial. To maximize the likelihood of transfer to long-term memory, practice opportunities ought to be varied in both format and cadence.
In addition, on the basis of trends observed at the cohort level, regular practice exercises provide early and consistent insights into how each learner is digesting and comprehending the eLearning content, allowing for both individual intervention and content optimization.
3. Relevant content should be linked to applications in the real world.
Knowledge must be applied to relevant situations in various contexts for it to stick. In an online setting, this is fairly simple to accomplish with certain process-oriented knowledge. However, achieving contextual parity in more interactive settings that call for the use of critical thinking skills is not as straightforward.
Integrate interactive case studies and branching scenarios that permit individualized decision-making and feature personalized feedback at specific decision-points throughout the learning path to expose students to authentic application-based eLearning.
4. Make use of instructional strategies and tools for collaboration.
Today, there are more tools for virtual collaboration than there were just a few years ago. Additionally, experts in the transfer of knowledge concur that collaborative activities play a particularly important role in knowledge retention.
There are a lot of exciting new options available to enhance the online learning environment, in addition to the well-known Google collaborative tools (Docs, Hangouts) that support collaborative eLearning strategies. Here are a few examples:
OoVoo: A liquid (and free!) video chat software
Conceptboard: a virtual whiteboard that is simple to use for effective online group work.
Cacoo: in a user-friendly and real-time environment, multiple users can work on flowcharts, mind maps, wireframes, and more.
5. Plan a fitting learning appraisal methodology.
Without actually looking for it, how can you tell if learning transfer is taking place? A well-designed assessment strategy that targets the end-goals of the eLearning initiative and the participants’ ability to reliably (and continuously) achieve those goals is perhaps one of the most important considerations in eLearning design. This is in addition to practice opportunities and relevant application throughout the eLearning content sequence.
The standard-setting model for evaluating whether learning move has really happened is Kirkpatrick’s Summative Appraisal Hypothesis. Level 3 evaluation—Can Learners apply the knowledge and skills beyond the course or training?—is the only way to determine if learning transfer occurs using this model. Therefore, it is essential to develop a strategy for assessment that incorporates post-training evaluation in addition to in-course testing and assessment. A few choices for a viable post-assessment incorporate student overviews, relative execution benchmarking, and reviews/interviews with hierarchical individuals/offices influenced by the preparation.
Key is the design strategy.
Online training is becoming increasingly important in today’s global telecommuting workplace. With the right instructional design strategy, you can create engaging, relevant, and effective learning transfer eLearning content. eLearning design is worth doing well, just like anything else.