After two years of planning and six months of negotiation, Sarah finally has the green light to upgrade her Learning Management System (LMS). Now the real work begins – and her brain is going into overdrive. It’s 1:15 AM, and Sarah is wide awake in bed staring at her ceiling fan, wondering…
“I know the technical and logistics things will work out – I’ve got a great team. But I’ve got to make sure everyone knows how to use this new LMS.”
Just like the air swirling around the fan blades above her, Sarah continues to mull over different training solutions in her head:
- Hundreds of people need to get up to speed fast
- Software simulations are good
- How do I get them excited about the new features?
- What if they could...
As these ideas bump into each other in her head, Sarah gets an unexpected idea – and falls soundly to sleep with a relieving, deep breath.
What’s the Problem?
What was her idea that gave her the peace of mind to be able to go back to sleep? Sarah already knows the best way to train her large, distributed team about the new LMS is to use software simulation.
Using the “See It, Try It, Do It” approach, learners first watch a demonstration of a tool or feature, then go through a guided practice, and then try it on their own in a software simulation learning module. This method has proven effective to ensure learners know how to actually use a software system.
Yet she doesn’t want the training to be only focused on learning how to use features and tools. She wants learners to understand how to leverage the capabilities of their new LMS within their daily workflows. In other words, beyond the step by step “how-to”, she wants to focus on the “when”, “where”, and “why”. In order to do that, she’ll need to embed the features and functions of the LMS within the context of work-based scenarios.
Sarah’s Brilliant Idea
That is when she came up with her brilliant idea: Begin her courses with stories that lead into software simulations as the solution. In this way, learners are first presented with a business problem that they can readily relate to. Then they see how the particular step-by-step procedures and a software simulation can successfully resolve the issue.
For example, one of the features of Sarah’s new LMS is a data dashboard. The dashboard is easy to understand and simple to use. It has a set of real-time data analytics modules that include course completions, success rates per course/question/learner, and more. Because the dashboard is intuitive to use, Sarah knows that her learners will quickly understand how to use the features. However, now Sarah can use a story to explain when, where, and why the dashboard is valuable.
To make an effective story, she’ll develop a short story that aligns with the workflow of her intended audience. In this case, she is targeting employees that have access the backend of the LMS, such as learning professionals, program administrators, and analytic specialists. She makes sure to use enough details to make the story relevant and relatable. Here is her story.
Ethan, an Instructional Designer, is at a team meeting for a new sales initiative. Marco, an executive, laments why his team doesn’t understand the new initiative, even though they all completed the required eLearning course. Rather than nodding in agreement, Ethan quickly launches the LMS dashboard right there in the meeting and provides Marco with key insights into what specific questions in the eLearning course his team is struggling with. Let’s explore what Ethan could show Marco using the new LMS to improve the outcomes that Marco is seeking.
Sarah is going to enhance her software simulation by incorporating stories before each set of features to first explore the when, where, and why – only then will she show the how-to. Doing so will place the new content within a relatable work context to make the learning more relevant and ultimately increase employee performance.
To find out more about how stories can impact learning and your business, explore our other blogs.
Article by Johnny Hamilton
Johnny Hamilton recently won a Brandon Hall Silver award for Best Advance in Leadership Simulation Tools and is eLearning Magazine’s 2016 Learning Champion award winner as a High Performer for his “outstanding contributions to the learning industry."