by Carla Torgerson, instructional strategist
At Allen Interactions we use the Context, Challenge, Activity, Feedback model developed here at Allen Interactions to design e-learning. (If you’re not familiar with this model, see “Creating e-learning that makes a difference” or the book, Michael Allen’s Guide to e-learning by Dr. Michael Allen.)
I really like this model as an overall design tool, but I’m especially interested by context. What makes your e-learning interesting to the learner? Generally, I like to wrap the training within a context that is as similar to the learner’s work environment as possible. We also know this leads to better transfer of learning; that means the learner will be better able take what he/she learned in training and use it in his/her work.
But how do you find just that right context? I like to ask how the learner will use this skill in his/her job. I also ask what makes it hard to do this skill. Is it harder to give good customer service when the customer is being demanding? Is it harder to focus on the customer’s need when there’s a lot of background noise? Is it harder to enter data when the phone keeps ringing? Of course.
The closer the context is to the real work environment, complete with all its complexities and richness, the better the e-learning will be. Of course, the trick is bringing these rich details into the context of the e-learning, but at the same time being mindful of not making it so complex that you overwhelm the learner.