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People Learn From Awesome

E-learning – you’ve done it.  Your organization has bought the fancy LMS and you’ve stocked your stable with instructional designers and fancy Flash developers ready to make immersive learning worlds for your employees.  The expensive to run instructor-led curriculum has been converted to a fancy new e-learning course complete with a theme intended to engage your learner, yet your organization still struggles to see any real performance.  How did you go wrong?

Back in late March/early April, I happened across this keynote speech from an Adobe Enterprise Partner Community Day in New Orleans.  The presenter, Scott Stratten, is a social marketing expert, specializing in urging customers to take an engaging approach that is the exact opposite of traditional marketing techniques.  Scott asserts that people spread awesome; therefore, marketing messages need to be engaging to work in the age of social networking.  There is but a brief second to capture attention when Twitter feeds change constantly.

What does any of this have to do with engaging learning, you may be thinking? People learn from awesome. You may call them “a-ha” moments, but it’s essentially the indefinable moment when you think “This is awesome!  I will remember this and share it with others.”  As workplace learning professionals, we must find ways to capture and maintain the busy learner’s attention and provide awesome.  Awesome leads to performance.

This is never more important than in e-learning.  We are competing with any number of distractions: interruptions, deadlines, workplace crises, etc.  Boring e-learning just isn’t awesome.  In fact, it’s a cancer of unawesome that infects an organization.  It is that collective groan you hear whenever another e-learning course is released, “Ugh, we have to do ANOTHER e-learning.”

The thing is, awesome e-learning isn’t about fancy Flash programming or immersive virtual worlds.  It’s about giving people what they think they need and didn’t know they needed simultaneously.  It’s about engagement, just as Scott Stratten says about marketing.  Awesome e-learning focuses on actions.  What do your learners need to do?  Start there and be prepared to bring the awesome!

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