E Ending. In the training world, the
thought of a never-ending course would
be ludicrous, despite the mantra of continuous learning. However, in the gaming
world, the concept of revisiting an environment, improving your outcome, and
moving on to a future challenge compels
a player to seek a never-ending experience.
In fact, many gamers will identify
themselves by their game of choice and
their expertise level in it. As we develop
learning games, we need to consider
whether an end or continuing learner engagement is appropriate. There is no single
answer to this question; rather, this is more
a philosophy to consider based on learning objectives and instructional design.
Communities of interest, sharing
opinions, ratings, pictures, and constant
feedback have become powerful learning models for Millennials. The ability to
informally and openly ask questions; receive immediate, multiple points of feedback; and access images and video that
convey new information is now a standard. Social networking has become a
preferred delivery method that corporate
trainers must embrace and actively participate in. As organizations evaluate this
medium, they must consider two lines of
thinking: creating an engaging environment and managing the environment. As
you design a learning environment to attract Millennials, consider the following:
Know the learners. Understand the
demographics of the audience: organizations represented, roles learners play in
F Douglas Dell
the organizations, and their geographic
distribution. This will provide insight
into the development and display of your
learning content and will help align it to
preferred learning styles, as follows:
J Aural – Use sound, music, and narration.
J Social – Foster group learning by engaging in dialogue.
J Verbal – Employ language-based content using speech and writing.
J Visual – Share pictures, images, and
video to tell stories.
Social networks are a perfect environment to address these multiple styles by
integrating content in various forms. The
integration of media establishes a community dialogue, and sharing becomes a
resource for learners searching for similar
information. This ultimately creates an
engaging learning community network.
Design to engage. Social learning is all
about a simple interface that enables collaboration. Keeping important content
on the main page allows the learner to
scroll through posts. Offer as much relevant learning as possible within a single
click. Present images as thumbnails to use
valuable real estate and offer zoom capabilities for greater detail. A clean, simple,
and intuitive learning environment will
allow exploration and increase understanding about how to participate without instruction.
Another aspect of design is the tone
of the dialogue. Because the community
participation is voluntary, the language
and flow of information needs to be
friendly, informative, and encouraging.
Community management is best established by self-selection, not corporate
dictate. Having a passion for the topic
and actively engaging in the dialogue is
the best method for identifying a manager for a successful community-learn-ing network.
Be easy to find. Use search-engine
optimization to leverage search as a tool
to locate the gaming network.
Deploy RSS feeds as a continuing
flow of information to subscribers. Display all sharing tools such
as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+
for learners to share with others to
extend the learning experience.
Liking and re-tweeting
information promotes the environment
from the learner perspective; it
says, “Check this out; I think you will like
it.” Endorsement from a trusted source
will do more to extend the information
than the current model of course assignment and reminder emails.
As we integrate these new learning
tools into our training programs, we must
recognize that time, trial and error, and
advancing technologies will influence the
journey. It is important that we keep the
end customer in focus; make sure you en-
gage Millennials in your research, plan-
ning, and pilot programs. Use available
solutions such as Twitter and Wordpress
in your R&D efforts. Last, do not inhibit
innovation by trying to make the first re-
lease perfect. As any Millennial will read-
ily tell you, that is not what software ver-
sioning is all about. K
Douglas Dell is senior vice president of
eLearning Services for Crawford & Company, managing the KMC on DemandSM
learning platform and Crawford’s continuing education (CE) business serving the
insurance industry. His responsibilities
include technical development of CE
compliance software and management of
the Property Technical Certification (PTC)
program. Dell is a past board advisor to the
Atlanta chapter of the American Society
for Training and Development (ASTD) and
a member of the business and management faculty of the University of Phoenix.
New designs and
delivery mechanisms are
required if we intend to
reach, educate, advance,
and retain new talent in
our employee ranks.
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