Featured Video Play Icon

ATD Presentation – How to Develop World-Class E-learning

Damian Hehir e-learning

ATD Presentation – How to Develop World-Class E-learning

In June we were fortunate to exhibit at the ATD Conference Middle East. It was our first show back in person in over a year so it was quite exciting to be back at a physical event. One of the highlights of the show was being able to talk about a topic I’m very passionate about, e-learning.  I delivered this presentation twice at the seminar, but as it was a blended show, I also recorded it for the online version.  That’s the version you can see here.  A big thank you to all those that attended and to the clients that allowed us to demonstrate some of the work that we did for them.

Looking forward to seeing you all at the next show in the not too distant future!

Full Transcript

Hi everyone and thanks very much for coming along to my session on how to develop world-class e-learning. Now whist the session is pre-recorded I will be available during the live presentation of this in the chat to answer the question or concerns that you might have. And if you’re not here live or you wanna get in touch anyway then at the end of the presentation I will give you some of the contact details and links and so on that you will be able to get in touch with us. 

So let’s talk about how to develop world-class E-learning and the first thing I would like to do is first to ask a couple of questions of the audience so hopefully appearing now in the chat there be a link or some poll function where you can answer this question. 

The first of these is who uses E-learning in their organization or who has used E-learning in other organizations so do you have any experience in using E-learning in places that you’re currently working or have previously worked. I’ll give you just a couple of minutes to answer that poll question and then will move on to the next question that’s quite related to it. 

Who has ever been disappointed by the quality of E-learning? That is a very very valid question and part of the reason that we develop the company or build to the company to address these concerns it’s just well perhaps a lot of you have seen and will share the result of this. During or later presentation, some people have been perhaps disappointed by the quality of the E-learning that they’ve experienced. So now we’ve got those poll results in I’ll share the link to those as they’ve come in and just before I start to talk about E-learning I want to give you a bit of a background of the organization Capytech and why we feel like we can discuss this with some fluency. 

The Capytech was founded by myself and Jason there you can see on the screen and our story is actually quite similar in that we’re both ex-military guys and we met here in the UAE about well eight or so years ago now and where we work at the time we saw the pretty poor implementation of what they called E-learning and that was effectively putting PowerPoint slides, PDF onto Ipad devices and we thought we can do better than that. So with our background, I’ve got a background in computer science and Jason as similar technical experience and our long time training in the military context, we put together and fuse those two areas of technology and training to start to develop, start to develop E-learnings solutions for clients originally that was interactive content on our books and with naturally then expanded out to developing more online solutions that are suitable for the corporate clients we engage with. 

Since those humble beginnings now we’ve got a team of about forty-five people who are the bulk of that team is focused on the instructional design side of learning but of course, we got quality assurance components Arabic speakers, technical team, and so forth. By building out that team we’ve been quite lucky that we have been able to work with lots of the leading companies here in the UAE some of which you’ll see some case studies in a little while of the work that we’ve done so we’ve done everything from some of the leading banks to large corporates government as well and were also working with clients internationally too so we’ve been fortunate enough to have a very broad array of experience in developing e-learning for a variety of clients. 

So I was like to start this kind of presentation with the question about why we use e-learning because it is useful to have a quick refresher about why the organization wants to adopt it. In the past eighteen months or so since many many people have been working remotely, e-learning has come to the front even more so. 

Let’s talk about why we might use it, first of all, I’m talking about flexible working arrangements and many of you may be working from home right now E-learning is flexible you don’t need to go into an office, you don’t need to go into a classroom you can effectively do it wherever you might need to or prefer to do it at whatever time you want to do it as well so if you prefer to learn in the mornings, or evenings and you can do so you’re not tied into the schedule of what the traditional training mandates. 

It is efficient we know that in E-learning we can save approximately 40 to 60 percent time from what you might do comparably in a classroom so one day program in the classroom when you consider the breaks and lunch and everything else can probably be done in just a few hours using E-learning so we can deliver training more efficiently as well time-wise at the very least. 

It scales very very well so whereas in a classroom you may be able to put 10 to 20 people perhaps less nowadays with social distancing and so on with E-learning with just a press of a button you can roll that out to thousand or ten thousand of individuals so you can roll that out over multiple countries to many many different departments and so on very very easily once it has been developed. 

It’s fully trackable as well so providing you integrating this to the learning management system or similar then you know when people have completed it we can do the things like-gating as well so we make sure that people go through all the learning objectives for a program and then you can have a quiz or assessment at the end you can report those result as well and then your learning management system will tell you exactly who’s done what they achieve and what you know what compliance level up departments or your entire organization maybe. 

And the last point which is often easily forgotten is that E-learning is consistent and what am I mean by consistent is the quality of your instructors can well vary according to location or even what kind of morning that they’ve had so you might get a very different onboarding experience from one week to another or from one country to another within E-learning it is of course very very consistent everyone gets the same experience they might engage with it differently they might do it once five times they might want to do more of the animation or some might want to do more of the activities but at least you can be confident that it is very consistent for all of your learners. 

So I believe that there are three main ingredients to creating world-class E-learning so let’s go through those the first is the experience in training or E-learning itself so that is what perhaps a lot of you here have done is knowing how to deliver a lesson how to structure content so that you outline what objectives are you can tell the learners what they are going to learn and be able to reinforce that throughout a for a classroom setting he might be sharing anecdotes things kind of learning hooks to make sure that we keep people engaged and we have a good understanding about how to impart knowledge upon individuals and asking questions and so on. This is probably the most common skill set for that an LND department might start with so many of them will already have experience either in that role or previous role in delivering training. 

The next part is the technical skills so E-learning by its very definition is electronic so in order to develop that you need to have a certain technical skill now there are quite a few authoring platforms available like storyline that’s what we prefer but there is also others like captivate and even hype and a variety of other platforms built into learning management systems as well to be able to transfer what you might have been doing perhaps in the classroom to online you need to know how to be able to technically do that now this is not insurmountable there are plenty of courses available online through MOOCs like Coursera and Udemy that will train you on how to use these specific tools now you will need to invest a good amount of time into them to become confident. I often describe tools like the storyline is a really really beefed-up version of PowerPoint so you can if you’ve got time and you can put in the effort you can build very very elaborate powerpoints lines the same is true for storyline with the triggers and the variety of the resources that you can embedded in there you can create a quite proficient E-learning. 

Now, these first two aspects are something that I feel confident even I could do so I’ve got the training experience I can certainly learn some software I could put those two together and I could create functional E-learning that may well be sufficient for some people. 

But I lacked the third ingredient so let’s talk about that now it’s design and what I mean by design not so much instructional design which is covered in the first point what I mean by design is it got to look good E-learning as you saw in the previous questions I showed you too often looks pretty dated and terrible if you don’t have well-designed E-learning that people aren’t going to pay attention. In a classroom you have the ability for an instructor to make up for pulse lines so you can have terrible slides behind me as long as  I’m engaging and I can talk with the students and keep their attention then the slides are less important E-Learning needs to stand by out by itself there’s no one to make up for the differential in the poll design of slides it’s going to look modern and its got to be engaging with good interactions and graphics and so forth. Along with a nice instructional design that will keep learners engaged and keep their attention. Were competing with Tiktok and Youtube for learners attention now particularly when they’re working remotely so your E-learning has got to be of the highest quality in all of these three areas and design is the one that is quite easily forgotten and often probably the hardest thing to do I cannot make something look good I just don’t have that skill set but you can take people that have design acumen make sure they have instructional designs experience or give them that experience and then they learn the tools and by putting these three together you’re able to create what hopefully can be described as world-class E-learning. 

So let’s have a look at some examples of how the process that we might undertake to do this because in an organization you might have a variety of stakeholders various people that you need to take their inputs and you want people to be engaged from the very beginning of E-learning process so we’ve developed this multi-step process and you might not do this exactly you don’t need to of course but this will help you to make sure that your delivering E-learning to the highest level and meeting the expectation of your organization or your clients. 

So usually will receive content and will analyze that then will have a kick-off meeting to make sure that everybody is understanding what their expectations are and what this process looks like and timelines and all of these important things and will go into the storyboarding phase and Jason and I will talk to a blue in the face about how important the storyboarding is. The storyboard defines how the module will be structured and what the end output will actually look like so getting a storyboard right is absolutely crucial and you’ll see that we’ve outlined there that we need to get the storyboard signed off. Now one of the biggest risks of any program like this is that you vary a long way from what you set out to do the storyboard by storyboard provides that roadmap and ensuring that you’ve got complete organizational buy-in at that stage not when you’re delivering the final version if you get storyboards approved at the earlier stage and you make sure you’re covering the right content and you’re doing it in a fashion that meets stakeholders expectations organizational demands then your setting yourself up for success. And then will go into technical development so will add our first cycle will deliver an alpha the alpha version is where we should receive the bulk of our feedback will show you the tool that we use for risk getting that feedback shortly then will go into our second development cycle and then from there will release the beta now if we’re all doing a good job here then there shouldn’t be much feedback on a beta version there might be a few points here and there but really it should be getting quite close to being where the final product needs to be but nevertheless will get the second round of feedback go into our final development cycle and deliver the gold version. The gold version is what you should upload or be able to upload to your learning management system that’s one that’s ready for production-ready to go out to learners that’s roughly what it looks like the storyboard is absolutely critical then will have two rounds of feedback at the alpha and beta and then you’ll release the gold some organizations or developers will have one round of feedback some might even have three but if you take anything out of this I’ll just emphasize the importance of the storyboarding phase to how well an E-learning program can go. 

We use a variety of communication tools was this slide was actually much more important probably eighteen months ago when things like Microsoft teams and slack and so on were new to organizations but if you’re still doing E-learning development or any project management on email then I strongly encourage you to look at things like Teams or Asana or the variety of other project management and communication tools just to make your life easier. We brought plenty of organizations onto teams some have a love-hate relationship with it but at least you’ve got all your communication files and everything else centrally organized which makes things just so much easier. 

For our feedback, you can see probably a little bit smaller on your screen there but we can send out a review link to all of the stakeholders so your not sharing around PowerPoint files or anything like that one online link where every stakeholder can put have their input will often find there might be conflicting input so it allows people to hash that out and really from the organization define what direction they want their E-learning to go and when we’re on our feedback cycle will go through and kind of tick all of these off so there’s accountability involved there so all of this is done in the browser you’ll log in once and it’s just make it a lot simpler than having to share around files and so forth. 

So let’s take a look at some case studies that show you what this E-learning can look like and the first one I want to show is one that we did for an organization called Unitatus they are a small organization really a start-up and they are providing air traffic control training to entities within the EU and so this is a very very nice approach to what we would describe as blended learning so what they’ve done is develop some E-learning content that you’re seeing on the screen now and then later they will go visit their facility and do real workshop type of training with the scenario and so forth that can only be done by an instructor that is the power of what you can do in E-learning. And so what your seeing on the screen now is a scenario that we recorded and we’ve embedded directly into the E-learning where we’re going through an emergency there and you can see on the top right of the screen we’ve put in a little dial there showing the workload. Now the beauty of this style of E-learning is that someone can go it one time or they can go through it ten times until they grasped what they need to learn there. And again just to re-emphasize what were doing on the blended learning side they will go through a series of these modules which they can do in a classroom as well to some extent or maybe just watching a video and then your being driven by the slowest learner but here they can take them out of the classroom air traffic controllers are very busy people with lots of demands they can learn this very efficiently and then we take them off the scope for the minimum amount of time as we can and then they can go through and in the live classroom setting just go through the things that only the instructors can do it’s not watching this and going through the scenarios it’s running them through in real-time what they might do so its very very powerful concept. 

Now moving on to the next extreme of dart up to one of you know one of the largest organizations here in the UAE in schools of countries with tens of thousand of staff DP World has thankfully trusted us for the last four or five years to develop all of their E-learning and what we’ve been showing on the screen now is a variety of different modules that we’ve developed for them so there’s a few things that you might notice there first of all whenever we develop E-learning we want to make sure that were because its custom built were matching it to the actual organization workplace so you will see here lots of people in uniform wearing the uniform that you’d expect staff from DP World to use you’ll see images of shipping containers and so forth to make it as contextually relevant as we possibly can to what does so whether its banking or compliance F and B we can develop content and making it and this part of making it world class is customizing it specifically to the organization both in the iconography you’ll see on the screen but also in the tone so we will have some clients that prefer a much more formal variation of E-learning where there’s less cartoon graphics to a more casual side where they want to make their learning as light hearted as they possibly can so and you have people of course that sit nicely in the middle so what you’ve seen on screen in a variety of different fashions is the type of interactions that will include within E-learning animation and so forth. And already you can see perhaps the wide wide variety of topics that we can cover in E-learning so the by far the most common that we do are things like compliance and safety then we do a lot of onboarding as well E-learning makes a lot of sense for onboarding but we’ve done everything else across the spectrum from this kind of topics to happiness where we completed a quite a large project for the prime minister’s office a couple of years ago but hopefully this gives you some feeling about what the level of quality you can produce in E-learning can get to. 

We also built the zodiac academy so zodiac academia and so what your seeing on the screen is a learning management system so we can also provide that many of our larger clients already have one in place but we built one specifically for this program where they were looking to build some simulations that we help them with and then they for the zodiac platform that helps supports help them manage ports so we build a system that they can host this content and then launch that out to a variety of clients.

Now E-learning can also work in very kind of technical areas so what your seeing here a software simulation so we can this is quite complex software as you can imagine so we can record this get the feedback from learners going through it and give them real-time practice on a system before they go into using an actual live perhaps real-time software that they could potentially cause some harm with so this is a quite an effective way to get people to practice or have the ability to practice using software and we’ve done this for even tools like Oracle and SAP in the past where people might want to set objectives once a year but they only do it once of the year so they need an annual refresher on how to be able to do so its quite useful tool to be able to do this as well. 

And the last example I’ll show in this next couple of minutes is what I’ve cheekily called Capytech magic so and I hope that you can take some of this magic in your own organizations as well. So we with the situation was here that the Russo Kemmah municipality here in the UAE were launching this bargiel green building regulations so by the very name you might think ok well that’s going to be fairly dry content and its we often are working in challenging environments too. To make stuff engaging and fun and what your seeing on the screen now is very typical of the types of content will receive so what we like to do is of course a player in the three areas that I covered before with our skills in instruction design technical and then graphic design to build this into something that looks much more modern and fun. It is very easy to take this and technically develop it into E-learning and not make it look very nice at all so let’s see what we did with this program. 

So first of all of course were capturing all of the graphics for and the branding for the organization and the program itself and so instead of just having a list of dust and storms extreme heat and so forth we made a nice little interaction which is contextually relevant to climate change going through each of those areas and you’ll see were building like buildings you might expect to see in the UAE and of course we can integrate within videos like what you’re seeing here and animations we do plenty of animation development as well this are kind of multimedia that we can put inside a good E-learning. 

A good program will have a mixture of different multimedia sources so videos and animations and narration and as well as the activities that you’re seeing on the screen as well right now. So the bulk of our programs will have some kind of voice over now this is particularly relevant out here in UAE as there are many many people expatriates and emirates as well who’s naturally their first language isn’t English and you might be wanting to develop or deliver your program in English that’s readability so will quite often put voice over in our modules because people’s oral or listening skills are sometime stronger than their reading so we might shy away from having too much text on the screen and rather use graphics and animations and the voice over to impart the knowledge that were trying to put into E-learning and so you can see from where this module started to where it ended up is quite the journey but feel confident that we follow that process that I outlined before and we make sure that the people doing this have those three skill sets that I outlined at the beginning and I particularly like this slides where instead of there just being a list which is its kind of abstract to what your talking about here were talking about specific you know efficient water fixtures in a diagram representing exactly what your talking about so this is just a very strong methodology of reinforcing to learners what works your talking about will try and do that whenever we possibly can so taking regulations and developing into something that is as engaging as what your seeing right here its just about up that was a picture from our live event at ATD in Dubai so you cant physically come and say hi but hopefully virtually you will. You got my email address on the screen there my phone number as well and if you scan that QR code with your phones not with the App the swap card app but just with your phones that I’ll bring up a little micro module actually we developed for this which gives you more samples about some of the E-learning we developed the contact details as well and even a link to book a meeting with me so we can discuss this further. 

So I do hope you got a lot of that I’ll remain in the chat for a little while longer if you’re watching this in real-time and I’ll try to answer any questions you might have and if your watching this retrospectively then feel free to get in touch via any of those means and I’ll try and assist you as best as I can thanks very much for attending and I hope we can help you on your journey into E-learning thanks very much.