Archive for the 'Principles' Category

Learning campaigns that achieve sustainable behavioural change

puzzle.jpgWe’ve all heard the claims about the potential effectiveness of blended learning, but how do you realise this potential when developing your blended learning strategy? Try a learning campaign. 

For many years now the benefits of blended learning have been touted. Extension of the learning process, embedding of knowledge/skills/know-how, appealing to people with different learning styles, providing consistency and reinforcement and cost effectiveness are just some of the benefits that can be gained from the implementation of a blended approach. 

We’ve been trialling blended learning approaches in the corporate world and have found there is much to be learnt from marketing and advertising strategies. Here are some of the techniques we’ve used that are achieving very positive business and learning results.

Develop a cohesive and exciting campaign to support the change 

When devising your blended learning strategy, map out a campaign of events that will create a meaningful user experience, support the learning process and provide data to help you access the effectiveness of the campaign. Events could include a pre-workshop teaser, e-vite with assessment questions, face-to-face workshop (which links to the collated findings from the e-vite), follow-up e-learning modules, learning portal, access to online tools/content, coaching tools and activities, further refresher face-to-face modules and assessments. Choose the right learning methods for each stage of the learning process.

All events in the campaign need to be branded with a consistent look and feel, build upon each other and deliver a fully integrated and holistic program.

Use a range of learning techniques that suit your audience

Draw on a broad repertoire of learning techniques that align with your organisational learning culture. The design of the program will be heavily influenced by the way in which your target audience uses technology voluntarily. Influences include online communities, user forums, blogs, online dating sites, online collaborative games, location-specific content for mobile devices and podcasts/vodcasts listened to online, on iPods or mobile devices.

Support on-the-job application and coaching 

Integrate tools that support on-the-job application and coaching interventions from managers. Our experience has highlighted the invaluable role managers play in supporting the blended campaign’s effectiveness particularly in the usage of online learning components and coaching interventions. Bring management on-board and firm up their support before the learning campaign is rolled out.

 Track completion and link learning to accreditation processes

If possible set up a system to manage campaigns, track completion of each element of the campaign and report on return on investment. For large numbers of users a learning campaign management system is critical to minimise administration and provide data that helps you evaluate campaign effectiveness. When we couldn’t find an off-the-shelf system to manage the campaign we developed our own system to automate and manage all components of the program.  When tracking is possible you can link completion of campaign components to an accreditation process. For example accreditation to a sale training program may require completion of the pre-workshop questionnaire, workshop attendance, e-learning module completion, completion of 3 coaching assessment and a pass-mark on the online assessment. Establishing an effective accreditation process will help maximise take-up/usage, communicate the importance of the campaign, increase learning/business outcomes and deliver sustainable behavioural change.


Experiment with new technology and associated blends of learning interventions. Track effectiveness of your campaigns and continually strive for that perfect blend. Lisa Vincent


Web Quests – an old idea still proving its worth.

istock_000000172111small.jpgDeveloped in 1995, before the internet ‘took off’ in popularity (and when we enjoyed 14.4 dial up modems!), the Web Quest was designed as an enquiry-oriented learning activity in which most or all of the information used by learners is drawn from the internet.   Web Quests are designed to focus learners on using information rather than looking for it, and to support their thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation.  

We recently created an e-learning program with a Web Quest component where the learner had to review a range of collated sites to complete a range of activities. It proved very popular and a great way of encouraging learners to continue their knowledge development through accessing a range of carefully selected sites. Its worthwhile considering the idea if you’re looking for a way of extending your program’s reach.

The model was developed in early 1995 at San Diego State University. The key elements to consider and include in a Web Quest are listed below:

  1. An introduction that sets the stage and provides some background information and sets out the required task.

  2.  A set of information sources needed to complete the task. These can be embedded in the WebQuest document. The sources can include internet sites, pod casts, wikis and databases.

  3. A description of the process the learners should do to accomplish the task. Some guidance on how to organise the information acquired. This can be through questions or directions to complete frameworks such as timelines, concept maps, or SWOT analysis.

  4. A conclusion that brings closure to the quest, reminds the learners about what they’ve learned, and encourages them to continue their experience.

For more background on the concept and some examples, head over to the San Diego Web Quest site.


Learning in the digital age

Learning has changed significantly over the past decade with our learning environment shifting towards a more informal, networked and technology-supported arena.  While workshops and formal study will always have their place, the growth of e-learning and online collaboration has illustrated the need to research and define a new learning model to support us in developing effective e-learning experiences. We’ve been closely following the development of the Connectivism model (pioneered by George Siemens) and its application to content development. 

Connectivism is gaining support due to the significant trends occurring in learning. These include: 

  •  Informal learning is now a significant aspect of our learning experience. Learning occurs in a variety of ways – through personal networks, online communities and through completion of project-based tasks.
  • Learning is a lifelong process where learning and work related activities are no longer as separate as they once were. 
  •  Technology is influencing and shaping our thinking and approach to learning new tasks.
  •   Know-how and know-what are being overtaken by the need for know-where (ie the understanding of where to find key knowledge).

So what are the key principles for connectivism and what do they mean for your e-learning development projects? Here’s three key ones we think should be top-of-mind when approaching any design. 

 1. Learning has an end goal – namely the increased ability to “do something”.  

This might be in a practical sense or in the ability to function more effectively in a knowledge era. Content design must include strategies that motivate the learner to apply the knowledge and make decisions as part of the learning experience.

 2. Learning is about connecting to a range of information sources.  

A learner can significantly improve their own learning by plugging into an existing network. Content design must incorporate links to other resources such as: blogs, wikis, websites, reference libraries, to allow the learner to go ‘deeper’ into the topic area as required.  

3. Knowing where to find information is more important than knowing all the actual information.    Content design must include pathways and navigation trees to show learners how to access the stuff they need, when they really need it, and in the format they require.  In future posts on Evolve we’ll explore effective content design strategies that use connective techniques.