What is “Content?” It’s what you’re reading right now. It’s the front page of Yahoo or Google. It’s everything on YouTube. It’s all the tiny pieces in the Operation board game from Milton Bradley (caution, small contents can be a choking hazard).
If we think of eLearning
and web based training as a path through a forest, “Content” is all the dirt, stones, twigs, bugs, grass, flowers, arrow signs, etc., that make your training interesting and unique.
Content is what you consume with your senses. Training is the path you take to consume the content. When content and training are combined, they create the lesson.
Should you outsource your content creation, or keep it in-house? There is no right or wrong answer, it’s entirely up to you and every organization is different. Perhaps you have an in-house media team that exists just to create whatever content you need, and they can easily fit your new training content into their production schedule. Perhaps your in-house team is already overwhelmed and they would pull out their remaining hair if you dropped a training project on them.
You do what is best for your learners and your organization.
In this section, I’m going to break down Types of Content, and then talk briefly about Types of Training.
TYPES OF CONTENT:
o Words on a screen, words on a page, words and symbols on a white board.
o The most basic type of content
o Easy to create, we are all used to typing text
o Low file sizes , making it easy to deliver
Professionals are available to help create compelling text
o The “Social Learning” Type of Training can be all text.
o Easy for the average learner to consume
§ Learners with special needs will potentially need assistance consuming text
When I’m creating any type of content, I begin with text. It’s the outline for a project. It’s the script for a voice over. It’s the written description of what will happen – – what the learner will hear and see – – in the training.
o Spoken words (voice over), music, sound effects
o Easy to create low quality audio
o Easy to outsource high quality audio to wide variety of professionals
o Low file sizes, making it easy to deliver
o Easy for the average learner to consume
§ Learners with special needs will potentially need assistance consuming audio, the typical scenario pairs audio with text.
§ Highly portable
Audio is the first step in adding life to a training project. It doesn’t have to involve creating a complex soundscape. You don’t have to work with some long haired hippie spouting off about Theatre of the Mind!
It can be as simple as choosing a friendly warm voice for your voice over.
It is very important to have “good” audio on a project – – because it’s the first thing that your learners will connect with. Bad audio – – static, too loud, too soft, too muffled, out of sync with images – – makes learners instantly tune out.
Audio can also add depth and fun to your training, because it generates an emotional reaction. Last night “The Terminator”
was on TV. I’m a guy, so I watched it.
The repetitive, simple music that always accompanies the Terminator’s presence quickly generates a sense of foreboding and builds my emotional connection with the images on screen.
Sound effects and music make learning more fun, and add another layer of interaction to games. Going back to the Operation example, learners jump and laugh when that annoying buzz shocks their ears. The buzz sound reinforces the “Don’t touch the sides!” lesson.
o Static Images
· images of real people, places, things
· drawings or artistic renderings of people, places, things, concepts
§ Charts and Graphs
· illustrations and/or photos that deliver measured information and/or results
· images made of various pieces, including the items listed above, possibly mixed with text.
o Moving Images
· Moving, non-static images of people, places and things
· “Plays” or “Loops” for a set amount of time
· Generally has a two-dimensional feeling of depth
· Can also be a sequence of Static Images
o Moving sequences of Static Images, possibly incorporating Video
o Generally have more “life” and depth than standard Video
§ Interactive Images
Touch-screen devices can have interactivity built into images, allowing them to zoom, pan, manipulate 3D objects, and reveal information. See Apple iBooks
o Tools to create low quality visuals are accessible and improving every day
o Professionals are available to create high quality visuals
§ The range of what can be done visually is highly dependent on the projects budget
o Medium to large file sizes, and multiple formats in use; delivery needs to be planned in greater detail than text or audio
o Highly flexible medium; you can create and incorporate practically anything
o Easy for the average learner to consume, depending on available devices
§ Learners with special needs may need assistance consuming visual content, the typical scenarios can allow for a text transcript and if needed, a separate audio file.
§ Devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones have made visuals more portable than they once were.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Visuals are currently the easiest way to disrupt someone’s day. A lesson that might take up several pages of text can be passed through a meaningful video in just minutes.
If you are going to include Visuals in your training program, and you’re even the least bit uncomfortable, inexperienced, or confused about it, please please please contact a specialist. A specialist will work with you to create a far more moving learning experience, and will already know how to deal with the obstacles that always come along for the ride when working with visuals.
§ The learner physically and/or mentally has a role in creating an outcome
§ The learners decisions result in a reward or consequence
o Can be as simple as a quiz
o Can be more complex, incorporating Text, Audio, Visuals
o Creation is getting more affordable
o A professional can help you with creation and delivery
§ Can be digital, mental, physical
· Digital formats vary
o Flash is common, which can be good or bad
Games have been around forever….they are as simple (and complex) as physical card games, dice games, Tic Tac Toe, Rock Paper Scissors, elementary games like Red Rover, computer Solitaire. Games encourage learning because the learner thinks about a strategy, within certain rules, and is rewarded for winning. Games are learning contests.
Games can be enjoyable as social or solitary experiences. People are predisposed to playing games. As long as it presents an “easy challenge” to participate in, is rewarding to complete, and is relevant to the training, a game incorporated into the training process can be a wonderful interactive learning opportunity.
Allen Interactions recently released ZebraZapps, which lets a content creator easily build games that will help learners learn. I’m playing with ZebraZapps right now, and LOVE it! The Thiagi Group has used games to make learning fun and effective for thousands of learners at top companies.
Games engage, games work.
A game can be part of a learner’s training experience, and a game can be its own self-contained Type of Training.
Types of Training are the paths (through the forest) along which the learner consumes Content. We’ve covered Games; here’s a quick look at two more Types of Training:
TYPES OF TRAINING
· Games – noted above; people learn how to win a game
· University setting
o Compared to reading a book and taking a test
o Materials are presented; the learner is expected to learn
o May have interactive components, but the learning is not necessarily interactive
§ Example: rather than ask a question, you review the materials presented seeking an answer.
· Social setting
o Interaction between trainers and learners
o Group discussions between classmates, possibly including teachers/trainers
o Similar to posing a question on Facebook or in a group chat, then receiving an answer or information about the answer from an instructor or the group at large
Some people learn best by reading. Others learn best by listening. Others learn best by watching. Others learn best by doing.
There is no rule against mixing all Types of Content with all Types of Training. By selecting the right mix of content, and organizing it into the right mix of training, you have unlimited potential to teach your learners in the ways that they learn best.
What can hold you back from achieving that “right mix” is technical stuff. And that’s what we’ll look at tomorrow: Management, Presentation, and Delivery of this delicious training gravy!