Informal learning

Good ways to learn stuff, Measuring eLearning, What I do

I hate stock photos, so here’s a pretty Datastream chart instead.

Where I fall down with most eLearning advice and practice is that it’s directed internally, towards employees or students, and not externally, ie, towards customers.  So, there is a plethora of tips and tricks and ideas for getting people to remember fire regulations, diversity policies etc which are all great, and probably work brilliantly. I particularly remember a conversation about framing a piece on fraud legislation within a detective story, which sounded like great fun for both learner and developer.

This isn’t, however, where I’m coming from. Most of my time is spent trying to work out how to deliver the maximum information about our productsandservices in the shortest time available.

Our typical user works in financial services, usually in a very fast-paced environment where she or he needs to make decisions quickly. They don’t have time to work through a detective comic or click around a screen: they want to know how to use RSI to analyze share performance; or what buttons they click to create a portfolio report for their clients, who needed the information yesterday. The market is bouncing up and down like a Harrods lift on the first day of the summer sales, and there are a hundred hungry competitors eyeing their desk space.

Our approach has been called “product help on steroids”, and I think it’s more than that, but it’s a good place to start. Our teams create short (by eLearning standards) courses, lasting up to around 45 minutes (PowerPlus Pro is…complicated). Within each course is a menu of topics. How you take the course is up to the user. If they’ve only got a few minutes, they can click on a topic and get a short elearning video that takes them through a typical task in about five minutes. As the topic is usually done in-product, the user can have his or her version of the product open at the same time, so they can follow the actions. The player allows them to pause the action, rewind, or  move onto another topic. We’re also experimenting with PDF takeaways so that users can have a reminder on their desks.

In general the user feedback has been very positive, but our issue now is that, given the rather stodgy image of eLearning, how do we get our lovely little topics in front of the customers, and (hopefully) cut our support costs by reducing the support calls?

More thoughts later…lunchbreak is over, and I’ve got a bunch of modules to QA for tomorrow’s launch.