Let’s presume you have an important function. Two of your friends have volunteered to photograph the function. Friend One owns the latest camera in the town, knows a thing or two about photography, and is an ace with photo editing software. Friend Two, on the other hand, owns a mid-level camera, contributes articles on photography and works as a freelance photographer for a magazine. Whom will you choose?
My hunch is you will opt for Friend Two. For we do know that the camera and the software are just tools, yet give these tools to a person who knows about composition and lighting, has an eye for details, and you will get breath-taking photographs. The bottom line is it’s the person and not the technology that can get you the desired results.
Now let’s presume that you head the sales department of your organisation. Your newly-launched products are performing dismally, and the management is questioning you. Moreover, the sales managers are blaming the sales representatives, but then “we are doing our best” is what the representatives are saying. After much deliberation, you decide to replace your existing sales training course with a new one. Now the million-dollar question: Who will create the course? Will it be your sales managers who know how to create a course using authoring tools? Or – and this is a big or – will you get an e-Learning developer on board?
Let me put forth a few points to build my case for why an e-Learning developer will be your best bet:
- They will analyse the need for training
A training course may or may not be able to address poor performance. For example, may be your sales team has not been properly briefed about the newly-launched products thereby rendering their sales pitch ineffective, or maybe the sales team comprises several members who have no experience in selling. In both the cases, a training course will be an apt solution.
At times, performance issues can arise due to lack of proper facilities. For example, if the employees of an e-commerce site are experiencing internet connectivity issues, their speed of processing orders will get hampered. In this case, a training course will prove futile.
- They will analyse the problem in totality
An e-Learning developer will interact with different departments, employees across all levels, and if possible, your customers too. The developer will also go through the previous training materials, sales feedback forms etc. Often such kind of a 360-degree analysis will allow your e-Learning developer to unearth the actual problems.
For instance, because your organisation makes products used in the car-manufacturing industry, the existing training focuses only that industry. The new products, in contrast, target the ship-building industry. As a result, many of the sales representatives are not fully aware about the features of the new products. In this case, the developer will suggest retaining the existing training materials and creating another course focussing on the ship-building industry.
- They will decide the scope and the outcome/s
Scope and outcomes are the building blocks of a training course. Moreover, the two are closely interconnected. Let me explain you by giving an example. You want the course to focus on the features of the newly-launched products. However, what do you expect the representatives to do after taking the course? Do you want them to remember and recall the features of a particular product? Or do you want them to use the newly-acquired knowledge to suggest the most appropriate product to a customer? The two questions that I have listed here are the probable outcomes of the training course, and each outcome influences the scope of the training.
For example, if you want your representatives to just recall the features, then the scope of the training will be modules that outline the features of the newly-launched products.
However, if you want them to use the knowledge to suggest the most appropriate product, you are basically asking them to recall the features of different products, compare the features with the needs of the customer, and then suggest the most suitable product. In this case, the modules will focus on features of the newly-launched products, types of ships, needs of a builder of a particular type of ship, the features of your product and how these features address those needs etc.
- They will determine the best delivery mechanism
Your e-Learning developer will also determine the way in which the training will be delivered. For instance, if the training aims to make your employees aware of the features of a product, the ideal course will be an online module that will use a click-and-reveal strategy. In contrast, if a module aims to hone selling skills of the representatives, then just listing the points on how to suggest the most appropriate product won’t suffice. Rather a scenario in which a character analyses the needs of the customer and then suggests the most appropriate product to close a sales deal will prove far more effective. Moreover, the inclusion of activities such as role-plays will allow your employees to effectively apply the learning to real-life situations.
- They will keep the learner in mind
Learners are the core of any training. Therefore, your e-Learning developer will study the employee demographics, motivational level, skillset etc. to design an engaging course. For example, if your sales team loves social media, your e-Learning developer might suggest using Pinterest wherein the employees can pin advertisements that use persuasion to sell their products. Thereafter, they can analyse and discuss the pins during the training period. Thus, your employees will become active learners instead of passive listeners.
- They will take care of the course’s look and feel
The navigation style, layout of different elements, and images/graphics play a critical role in learning. Present a layout that is packed with text and images, and you will overwhelm the learner. Likewise, a confusing navigation style will leave the learner lost and confused, thereby even demotivating him/her.
Images too can aid the learning process vastly. Hence, choosing the correct images will be one of the important tasks your e-Learning developer will be performing.Let me give you an example. Given below are two images of the human digestive system. Now, if the objective of the course is to make the learners recall the parts of the digestive system, which image will you use?
An e-Learning developer will choose Figure 1. That’s because the learner’s attention will remain focus on the digestive system. In contrast, in Figure 2, the hair, the face of the person is visible; therefore, sub-consciously, the attention of the learner will split between the essential (the digestive system) and the non-essential (the hair, the face).
- They will act as a trouble-shooter:
The job of an e-Learning developer does not end by developing a training course. Evaluating the course is also important. Your e-Learning developer will take feedback from the sales managers, the sales representatives, and customers to gauge the effectiveness of the course. Based on the feedback, your e-Learning developer will make further improvements. For example, if some employees having difficulties in remembering the features of different ships, your e-Learning developer will create a printable chart for a quick reference.
Thus, an e-Learning developer is someone who is well-versed with learning principles as well as tools and technology. If you hire one to develop your course, rest assured that you will not regret your decision.