Many companies these days are “going digital” so what does that mean for learning and performance professionals? In thinking about using mobile technology for your learners, you need to understand how to use this medium best. It is good for short bites of information or providing theory. In developing content to be provided via mobile, it is best to think of it as an eBook format or read as a webpage – think of the items you view on your phone and you “like” items. It is helpful to break up text with videos, infographs, short interactivities like flashcards or things learners can interact with to break up just reading a bunch of text.
My client work has allowed me to interact with many viewpoints of digital content and how it can be curated. The design of the content needs to be more from a storytelling or “what’s in it for me” format than other online content otherwise you will lose your audience quickly. The good news is that most publishing software taps into some form of analytics either Google or built-in so that you can track what content is working and what needs to be updated/removed/changed quickly. The way I see that works best is breaking it down into smaller sections or chapters. This allows learners to have information broken down into short, consumable content when they have a few minutes. If you think about this, we are doing it this way in our personal lives, so why not with content you need to do your job better or new information?
As this is a new format for most trainers or subject matter experts, I have found it takes some coaching to get usable content. My suggestion is to get it in sections or chapters then convert that into the digital platform, so they can see it for themselves and how it will display. You can show them other content displayed in this format but for some reason, the light bulb doesn’t go off until they see their content. It may take some time to get to this point, but you will know once it happens as the content structure changes. It even helps to talk in stories where possible. I have found videos are good for this, especially when bringing complex concepts to life. Developing work situations where employees must use these skills or knowledge helps the learner see how it could or has been translated in a real-life scenario.
There is a balance in providing text and mixing it up with other graphics or visuals. One or two videos or audios per section is about right. This assumes that each section is no longer than 10-15 minutes. Developing content in this format can be harder than others, as it takes the “less is more” approach. However, you can go too slim as well, so making sure you have meaningful, relevant content for each section takes planning. In working with my clients, I try to develop or understand the objective for each section to keep on track and to know what to add or trim, based on the objective.
Creating graphics and visuals are also important aspects to making content come alive for the learner. If you are not good at creating graphics or do not have access to graphics software, consider investing in the resources to create those. Again, this may take some more planning or iterations, but it is worth the time as visuals are easier for learners to digest information.
The bottom line for any organization in providing skills or content in a digital format is to test and see what works best for the organization. Your digital strategy should be part of an overall learning strategy, not just a “one-off” solution. I find that digital frequently works best as either pre- or post-work in a blended learning course. Don’t be afraid to launch — the feedback from the learners will guide you on what and how they like to consume. Remember, it is a learning journey, not an event.
This article was published in The Association for Talent Development, Chicagoland Chapter (ATDChi) Training Today.