Change is a part of business. Nothing stays the same for long. Nor should it. But change can also impact the content within your on-demand learning resources and reduce their relevancy.
So are there ways to "future-proof" your elearning? You bet!
When designed correctly from the beginning, making an update to your elearning resource to reflect a change in policy, law, personnel or process will be straightforward and much more efficient than updating any paper-based resources. Here are two tips to keep in mind to future-proof your elearning (we'll share more in a future Tip of the Week):
True story: At last week’s PDC conference, we provided a brief overview of our relatively new on-demand harassment awareness and prevention series (see below for more information). We previewed one small segment of the e-learning program that went something like this – in a strong voice:
“If someone says something that you find unwelcome or offensive, we encourage you to speak up – Hit them with a BUS! The BUS approach, that is…”
The program goes on to explain:
B – Briefly describe the behavior.
U – Tell them it is unwelcome or making you uncomfortable.
S – Tell them to stop.
This is an example of a mnemonic – an effective tool for encouraging learners to engage with and to later remember and use the information you shared with them. In this case, an animated eye-catching visual of a bus in the e-learning program makes the mnemonic even more memorable.
Immediately after the session, one of the attendees approached us and said that the BUS approach was not only memorable but was already making a difference. How could that be? He said his phone rang during the session and he had to step out; it was a friend calling who was quite upset about an uncomfortable situation she had just encountered. He recalled and immediately shared the BUS approach with her – and recommended that she apply it right away. At this time, we don’t know quite how the story ended, but it is nice to think that the way that we’ve organized and delivered this important content has the potential to make a difference.
So… two takeaways from this Tip of the Week:
On your next e-learning project, consider how you might use interactivity and creative exercises to ramp up the engagement factor. Why? The more that your professionals engage with the content – and have the opportunity to practice their skills – the more likely they are to retain the information and to apply it in practice. And isn’t that the ultimate goal?
Keep in mind, too, that interactivity can be more (a lot more) than simple multiple-choice exercises.
Let’s say you’re creating an e-learning program on how to write meaningful time entry narratives that convey a value-add. Don’t design the program as just a one-way presentation of your policy. Instead, include a variety of illustrative scenarios that describe a series of activities, and direct your learner to draft a time-entry narrative that complies with the firm’s policy and conveys the value of the services provided. Better yet, once they draft their narrative and click “submit,” provide instant feedback that shows them how they fared, compared to a model time entry.
What if you're creating an e-learning program on active listening? Include an interactive self-assessment before the program starts – to encourage a bit of self-reflection and open the learner up to why they might actually need some of the tips that will be provided in the program.
Creating a program on effective interviewing practices? Invite learners to practice their skills by choosing their interview questions – or perhaps their responses to questions raised by the applicants. You could even design the program so it will traverse different paths depending on the inputs of the learner.
The options for interactivity are almost endless. Consider the skill-sets, behaviors, and practices you want to encourage, and design your interactivities and practice exercises with those in mind.
It’s no secret that one of the fastest-growing trends in on-demand learning is the move to “bite-size” learning resources (also called “micro-learning”). There are many differing opinions regarding what the duration of a learning resource must be in order for it to be considered bite-size, but most agree that anything 20 minutes or less could fall in this category.
By now we’re all familiar with the benefits this kind of learning approach can bring, but what does this mean for our old pal CLE?
“How can we move to a bite-sized elearning approach but still offer CLE credit?” We hear this question a lot now. The easiest solution is one we call the “Umbrella Approach.”
The "Umbrella Approach" - Sample Elearning Course Menu
Say you are creating a course addressing a specific legal topic. Perhaps you’re leveraging the content from a recent live CLE training program to do so. You’d love to divide the material into a few different stand-alone bite-size resources for just-in-time access, but really want to offer CLE credit for the training.
Rather than create a single 60-minute on-demand version of the program to meet the CLE requirement, go ahead and divide the material into a handful of targeted, bite-size subtopics. Maybe three 20-minute modules. Then create a single “Umbrella” module that is 60-minutes in total duration if reviewed in its entirety but could also be reviewed as a menu of separate but related bite-size modules.
That is, instead of a linear 60-minute course on the topic, you now have an umbrella module comprised of 3 chapters. As the user finishes a specific chapter successfully, it’s recorded as complete and is marked accordingly on the menu. If all 3 chapters are completed successfully and in their entirety, the course will then indicate that CLE credit has been earned and can even communicate that fact directly to your CLE tracking system or learning management platform if applicable.
So don’t let CLE stand in the way of your micro-learning vision; Create a resource that addresses both! And let us know how we can help.
Oh, and if you like the bite-size learning approach, check out LawFirmElearning’s QuickCustom™ library of off-the-shelf and fully-customizable courses addressing professional skills for lawyers (each just 15 minutes or less in length). See below for more information.
No Tip Next Week. Enjoy the 4th!
When building your firm’s elearning library, don’t assume you need to start from scratch on every e-learning course. Look instead for opportunities to leverage resources that already exist.
If one of your subject matter experts has been preparing for a live presentation, plan to record it and repurpose it. Don’t just repurpose it in its original state though; look for opportunities to repackage it so that it takes advantage of the elearning media; pair the recorded audio with demonstrative visuals or animations, add some interactivity, a quiz, and an opportunity to practice the skills learned, for example.
Consider repackaging it into bite-sized pieces as well. An hour-long presentation need not stay an hour long. Look for opportunities to break that content into 10-minute or even 6-minute bursts that capture key points and practical, actionable takeaways into short segments that are easy to digest.
Releasing a new policy? One that everyone in the firm needs to be aware of? Don’t just ask your colleagues to read it and sign-off that they’ve received and understood it. Leverage it into a brief e-learning module that illustrates the key points through scenarios that depict real-life dilemmas and real implications. Allow participants to practice applying the policy – and verify their successful completion electronically.
Finally, look for opportunities to leverage existing on-demand programs that complement or supplement your existing training opportunities. For example, to educate your associates on timekeeping best practices, or how to effectively manage assignments, or how to work effectively with multiple supervisors, consider leveraging off-the-shelf-and-customizable resources, like LawFirmElearning’s QuickCustom™ or Respectful Workplace series.
Opportunities abound to repurpose great content into something more.
Where do you see opportunities to apply leverage?
We're often asked if it's possible to launch elearning across a firm or organization without a learning management system (LMS) in place.
The short answer is: Yes. It's definitely possible. And sometimes even firms that DO have an LMS may choose not to host elearning there from time-to-time depending on specific course requirements.
An LMS is an excellent resource for a wide variety of learning management activities both online and offline. And when it comes to elearning, a good LMS will not only host on-demand learning resources, it will provide robust reporting on learner activity, allow for the creation and management of elearning-infused development plans and learning paths, and more.
However, if you do not have access to an LMS - or if the audience for your elearning does not have access to the LMS (think clients, summer associates, etc.) - you still have options. Just about any elearning course can be published for hosting on a standard server (like your firm's web server, intranet server or SharePoint server). The on-demand course will function exactly as designed and the user will have the same learning experience as they would if the course was hosted on an LMS.
The major difference you'll experience when hosting on a standard server vs an LMS is the lack of reporting and tracking options. If a course is hosted on your firm's intranet server, for example, you won't have the option to easily run completion reports, review quiz scores (if applicable) or access other helpful usage metrics. That may be a showstopper for some courses, but may be an acceptable trade-off for others.
(Actually there are workarounds for reporting on elearning hosted outside of an LMS. Feel free to contact us if you'd like to discuss).
So, even if you currently can't house elearning on an LMS for any reason, don't let that stop you. Just tell your elearning vendor partner that you plan to host on a standard server and you'll be on your way to launching your on-demand learning library.
And speaking of libraries...check out our QuickCustom library of customizable off-the-shelf professional skills elearning for lawyers.
About the Tip of the Week!
One of the most frequent questions we get from our law firm clients is “What are other firms doing?” or “What kinds of projects are you working on for others that might spark some innovative ideas for us?”