Getting everyone involved
To create eLearning often subject matter experts and educators collaborate with instructional designers to convert knowledge into learning resources. They often know what they want to say and can point to information they want to include, they just don't quite know how to say it to make it easily digestible in a digital format. The onus is then on the instructional designer to delivering good learning experiences on multiple devices and screen sizes.
The democratization of learning means enabling SMEs and educators to take a more active role in delivering great learning experiences.
The old system is broken
Conventional wisdom is that it takes ~3-6 months and costs ~$12-18k to deliver an eLearning module. The process of deciding learning objectives, then working with an instructional designer so they understand the course matter intimately, and then them going off and building a course is labor-intensive with lots of potential for things going wrong. Throw in video production with actors, post-production, etc, and voila - “NOW you decide that you want to make changes!?” …good luck.
It's a challenge for one person to take on the knowledge required to meet the learning objectives, design and deliver the scenario - AND try and keep everyone happy. Especially when the course is published on the LMS and everyone can then start chiming in with their suggestions and requirements. Courses can quickly become stale and unusable because “we use a different machine to do that” or “we don’t do it like that anymore”.
The outcome can become an uneasy compromise between the learning objectives, the time/cost, and the ability for the Instructional designer to understand what on earth the SME is on about.
The core of this problem is often skills, software, and licenses. Generally, only the Instructional designer has the software, knows how to use it, and is trusted to create resources. The technical requirements can extend to having good recording equipment and having a computer powerful enough to edit and render video. Compounding this problem further is that most editing software is desktop-based which can mean source files need to live on that computer and only that designer can access them. If there are changes 6 months later they need to find the files, fire up the application, make the changes, re-publish the SCORM package and upload to the LMS. Hopefully, they stick around - if not, someone else has to pick up the project.
Collaboration in scenario-based learning
To democratize learning the subject matter experts and educators need to be involved in the whole process. This includes:
- Inspiration: They need to see examples of other courses and get a feel for what is possible and what might work for their requirements.
- Limitations: They need to be aware of what isn't possible, what shouldn't be attempted, and what isn't within the organizational guidelines.
- Objectives: They need to understand how to write clear learning objectives and stick to them. They'll need to be aware that it's important to keep the content easy to digest and to maintain focus on what's important - rather than trying to add in everything they can think of.
- Planning: For scenario-based learning the most important part and should include a broad selection of stakeholders. They'll need to discuss and agree on any potential divergences and future differences. Getting these discussions/arguments out of the way before production saves a lot of time and drama.
- Production: Where possible the SME and educators should be involved in production. Ideally, they'll be in front of the camera, or at least be in the room. If a course is planned effectively then someone else can produce the content, i.e. an actor.
- Authoring: The SME should be involved in the decisions and be able to see how it looks when the course gets put together.
- Testing: Before publishing, the SME should be able to test the course with learners. They should be able to see what the learners think, assess where the course content might not be supporting knowledge transfer, and identify weaknesses and potential improvements.
- Publishing: Typically the SME won't be permitted to publish courses to the LMS, but they may have other distribution methods they wish to use and if permitted be supported in getting the learning to those who need it - in or out of the LMS.
- Maintenance: The SME should be able to make changes, tweaks, and adjustments themselves to ensure the module continues to meet learning requirements. Ideally, the course can be updated without re-publishing as a SCORM file and re-uploading. That takes ages.
As skills and abilities increase across the organization, the role of the instructional designer shifts. The L&D department still controls the process and acts as gatekeepers to the LMS, but is no longer required to understand the minute details of complex subjects. Setting guidelines, providing governance, and supporting good design and production are the key L&D roles in collaborating with SMEs in this democratized model.
How ShowHow supports democratized learning
ShowHow was founded on the core principle of enabling more people across the organization to create and deliver great learning experiences. While this doesn't often fit with the way L&D departments are set up, we feel it's the kind of disruption that is overdue and will ultimately make everyone's life easier. We aim to:
- Allow learners to practice scenarios at a time and place that suits them. Often people want to do training, just not when you want them to and especially if you are trying to make them do it. Engaging and challenging scenarios that are accessible 24/7 and in their pocket are more likely to achieve learning outcomes because they can do it when it suits them and they're in the mood.
- Reduce educators' workload and improve work/life balance. The issue with live scenario-based learning is that it takes ages to organize, involved multiple people, and can be stressful when things go wrong. Trainers and educators find it labor-intensive and mean they have less time for other work - which can bleed into the rest of their lives. Great scenario-based eLearning helps reduce those requirements.
- Making it easy to create great scenario-based eLearning. Creating great eLearning doesn't need to be hard, it just needs to be kept simple, easy to understand, and deliver on clear learning objectives. Our platform is designed to give anyone a set of tools to design and deliver consistent and measurable eLearning wherever they need it.
To meet those objectives, we have developed ShowHow with the following features:
- Unlimited authors: ShowHow doesn't charge per user. We want as many people as possible to create, collaborate, and co-design courses. We want you to get all the stakeholders involved, seeing what you're working on, and ensure all the objections and potential problems are addressed at the design stage - rather than after it's all finished.
- Simplified authoring: Yes you have access to all of those features, but do you actually need any of them, and does the learner care? ShowHow is designed around the premise of one thing on the screen at any one time, with one thing the learner needs to do. The design is minimal to allow the learner to focus on what you're showing or telling them or what they need to achieve to progress.
- Easy video production: Video editing and rendering is a pain. We moved it all into the cloud, now you can upload straight from the camera or stitcher, select the parts of the video you want, and drag it into your module. We keep all the originals in a collection you can share with your team, so anytime anyone needs that bit of video in the future - it's easy to find and drag it straight in.
- Update instantly: You can load your course into your LMS with SCORM, but you don't have to update the whole thing every time you make a change. If you're just changing some text or cutting out a bit of video, you can update the module instantly - no instructional designer was harmed in the process.