Why Use Voiceover, Graphics and Text Content in E-learning?

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At Lucid HQ we often find ourselves creating e-learning content combining graphical, auditory and text-based content – and please let’s bust any myths right here and right now – doing it this way isn’t straightforward!

We certainly don’t do it to ‘pad out’ the learning material or reduce the time spent writing technical text.  In fact, it makes the process of content creation more complex as we gather information from different sources and in different formats.  This is time consuming, and can also be costly, so it’s not something we would readily opt for!

However, recently a big customer asked us “Can we remove the voiceover and graphics from our e-learning and just stick with the text?”.  In responding to the client, it made us carefully consider exactly why we do this…

You might be familiar with the “cognitive load” concept… we’ve certainly highlighted it in other blogs because it’s key in the world of training.  It’s the notion that when we learn new information it must be stored in our working memories until it’s fully processed and passes into our long-term memory.  However, our working memory is a crowded place, and if too much information is presented we run the risk of losing it altogether.

However, there’s a little trick termed the “modality effect” – which means if information is presented in different formats or ‘modes’, then our working memory can hold on to more – because it reserves a separate space for processing visual data and another space for auditory data.  So, by using both visual and auditory stimuli in e-learning packages, we improve the trainee’s chance of avoiding cognitive overload and embedding new learning.

Building on the scientific basis, let’s face it, people also just have different learning preferences and by presenting information using a variety of mediums it keeps people’s interest throughout.

And finally, we live in a fast-paced world.  With around 40% of consumers not willing to wait more than three seconds for a web page to render before abandoning the site, societal patience levels are at an all time low.  But rushing can cause people to miss critical information.  This is the last thing we want in a training scenario.  So, delivering e-learning using a range of formats forces people to slow down and take the time to steadily digest all the new information.

So, can you see why we take the harder path when developing e-learning content for our customers?!  It may be a longer process for us – but ultimately it helps to improve the learning outcomes for our clients.

Brief Before They Get To Site, Not Once They’ve Arrived

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There’s an old adage in training: “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you’ve told them.”

Sound a little odd?  Well there’s a sound educational basis for the one-liner – most of us need time to assimilate new knowledge and getting to grips with new concepts requires time.  There is only a certain amount of information that our working memory can absorb in any one training session – in psychology circles this is known as the “cognitive load” – the limited mental capacity that we have for processing new material.

So, why do companies still insist on waiting for contractors to turn up to their worksite, ‘hosepipe’ information at them, walk them around unfamiliar surroundings pointing at things, and then let them loose on site, expecting they’ve fully comprehended everything that’s been said?

The best approach to site induction is to deliver detailed information BEFORE visitors arrive on site, using text, photos, diagrams etc.  Of particular importance is the provision of a site schematic – an overview of the ‘shape’ of the site.  People new to the site will need this to make sense of any site walk-around.  They need a context into which they can place the physical experience of a site visit.

There is also certain information that visitors and contractors might need beforehand, such as: Where is the site?  Which entrance should I use?  How do I get in?  What are the relevant telephone numbers?  What equipment should I bring?  Etc.

Lastly, think of visitors and contractors from outside of high hazard industries like rail.  For example, are they aware of the strict ultra-low alcohol level required by the rail industry?  Would you really expect a contractor, upon arriving at site and being told of the level, to throw their hand in the air and say, “Oops, sorry, I went out drinking last night – I can’t come on site…”  Highly unlikely!

So, we suggest the best worksite induction looks something like this:

  • Step 1 – Online briefing and test before arrival;
  • Step 2 – Quick verbal test and correction of any incorrect test results;
  • Step 3 – Site walk-around to reinforce and embed information.

What are your experiences?

Assisted Delivery: Guidance On Implementation

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In our last blog we discussed the advantages of Assisted Delivery as a training format that ‘self-delivers’ in the same way as E-learning – but is structured in a way that allows a facilitator to dip in and get involved, either leading on particular topics or convening group interactions to encourage social learning and deeply embed new knowledge.

So, what are our top tips for successfully implementing Assisted Delivery?

1. Choose your facilitators wisely

As with traditional face-to-face training, the skills and experience of the trainer is key. However, unlike traditional training, leading Assisted Delivery training does not necessarily require subject specific knowledge.  Instead, the person running the course requires facilitation skills rather than subject matter expertise.  Therefore, a strong team leader or line manager with basic presentation and facilitation skills could comfortably deliver an Assisted Delivery course.  The course materials themselves will cover the subject specifics in depth, with the facilitator’s role being to guide the trainees in their group discussions, enabling them to benefit from social interaction within a learning group.

2. Carefully structure the course

To allow facilitators to get an ‘aerial view’ of the course and understand where the opportunities for class discussions are stored, Assisted Delivery works best with a tightly controlled course structure and content.  Be clear on the topics you want to cover, at what point in the programme you want to cover them, and where trainees might pause for group discussion.

We recently used Assisted Delivery for an international sales programme.  A particular aim of the programme was the implementation of a globally-consistent approach to sales.  However, it was recognised that some practices must be attenuated for specific markets and local cultures.  Assisted Delivery allowed the sales managers to apply local emphasis at particular points in the course whilst also ensuring that the core content was delivered in an accurate and timely manner.

3. Support your facilitators

Although one of the key benefits of Assisted Delivery is that your trainers do not need in-depth subject specific knowledge; they still need support.  Developing and providing detailed delivery notes for facilitators is therefore crucial to success.  Furthermore, peer support outside of the classroom can also provide a much-needed chance to ask questions and refine the approach.  For one project we found setting up a discussion forum for the facilitators was useful.  They actively used it for sharing experiences and FAQs.

4. Encourage feedback from trainees

OK, so we’re not advising anything revolutionary here…but we are highly recommending you seek feedback from training delegates to see what they thought of the Assisted Delivery training: Did everything link together well?; Was the overall structure easy to follow?; Did you benefit from group interaction?; What would be useful next time?

Assisted Delivery: An Overlooked Training Method?

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As night follows day – people need training.  It’s what helps us to do our jobs safely, secure much sought-after promotions, develop career paths and even just gets us around an unfamiliar worksite unharmed…

But before we sing its praises too heavily, let us also be brutally honest, good (and even bad) training can come at a high cost – both in terms of expense, as well as time spent by the trainer and trainee.

So, what training formats are typically on offer?  We’re all familiar with traditional Face-to-Face learning, it offers the chance for experienced trainers to impart their subject matter expertise to a room full of knowledge hungry students.  In the last 20 years or so we’ve also seen a boom in E-learning, allowing knowledge to be shared with larger audiences at a fraction of the cost and independent of time or location constraints.

More recently, there is the much-touted Blended Learning, which merges traditional face-to-face classroom style teaching with E-learning packages, providing a highly effective means of sharing knowledge in different formats at the convenience of both trainer and trainee.

However, one mechanism is often overlooked: Assisted Delivery.

Assisted Delivery provides a course which ‘self-delivers’ in the same way as an E-learning course – with voice-over, graphics, video segments – but provides the opportunity for the facilitator to jump in, where confident to do so, and lead group interactions around particular video clips, diagrams, or case studies, etc.

We used Assisted Delivery when we developed a rail industry training course on the topic of Safety Critical Communications.  The course needed to address around 40,000 front line staff across multiple rail organisations – and there was no way we could have delivered the training to so many people through a traditional face-to-face course alone.  Yet at the same time, it was critical that we applied industry-wide protocols to often unique local situations.

By using Assisted Delivery we were able to place an in-depth 6-module course into the hands of local company managers who could then deliver the course with confidence at a time and frequency which suited the business.  Each of the individual learning groups were able to discuss the content, benefiting from the associated peer interaction and ‘social learning’, as well as apply the learning to their own specific local circumstances.

Assisted Delivery is not a universal panacea, but it is worth considering as a valuable part of your training portfolio.

Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Video For Your Worksite Safety Induction…

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Using a video for your worksite safety induction might appear the perfect solution – it’s visually engaging, straightforward to operate and comes in one neat package – what’s not to love?  Well, quite a lot actually… here’s three reasons we think you should avoid using a video as your worksite induction.

1/ A video isn’t easy to update…

It’s critical your worksite safety induction presents the worksite as it currently looks – there’s no point sharing detailed information about the worksite as it was five years ago.  Yet this is probably the biggest flaw with video – as soon as it’s made – it starts to become out of date.

Worksites change all the time.  There are the big changes, for example, a change of layout or an extension to a depot.  Then there are the smaller changes, a new poster, a gradual build-up of waste materials, a new coffee machine – the minor things no one really notices.  But big or small, all changes contribute to a gradually evolving visual environment which can start to look very different over time.

Creating a professional video – along with a presenter – tends to be a one-off financial hit.  You might spend around 15-20K shooting it – and create a polished induction – but then can’t update it because even the littlest change would involve getting everyone back on site to film again at a high cost.

However, you need to be confident that new visitors entering your site know how to safely navigate their way around – and if the induction is visually out of date – visitors will be digesting incorrect information which could impact on safety.

2/ Video content isn’t layered

Unlike online content, a video can’t be ‘information layered’ – you can’t adjust the content depending on the viewer.  For example, a visitor just wanting to see the welfare facilities won’t need to understand the detailed procedure for clocking in and out of the main worksite.  Sharing that video content would only waste time and possibly cause them to ‘switch off’ altogether.  In contrast, a new employee must see the whole site.  Ideally inductions would be able to adjust the level of content according to the visitor – but with video this just isn’t an option.

An online worksite induction created using different media – imagery, video clips, text – can layer the information and only deliver the layer which suits the viewer.  Increasing both induction efficiency and engagement.

3/ Video is all one-way traffic

When was the last time a video asked you to enter your details?!  Probably never – because it’s not possible for a video to capture data – it can only present information – not collect it.  In contrast, an online worksite induction can present information and capture it in equal measure – furnishing the viewer with worksite knowledge and the induction administrator with critical visitor information.

So, should we be using video for worksite inductions at all?

Yes – but treat it like a media asset, such as an illustration, schematic or image etc.  Use parts of the video and insert them into your induction – but at all costs avoid using one complete video as your entire induction programme – otherwise you’ll watch it ageing almost as soon as it’s created!