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Effective Learning Strategies

Jim is an L&D head of a highly reputed international bank. He contacts Billy, an Instructional Design manager in a global eLearning company, with a requirement to create a refresher course on Anti-Money Laundering to train all the existing bank employees. This requirement has been triggered by a money laundering case identified by a bank supervisor while auditing a team member’s work. Upon enquiry, Jim informs Billy that most employees are young and below 35 years of age. To create this course, Jim provides adequate source materials including various real-life scenarios. Jim also has budgets approved for creating this coursewith an expectation that the course would be engaging and fruitful this time.Jim also wants the course to be createdin three weeks so that he can roll it out in all the branch offices by the fourth week. Jim is also happy to use FlashMacromedia to create this course for a better visual impact.
Billy has now got all the information from Jim to initiate the work:

  • Purpose of the course
  • Target audience
  • Budget
  • Timeline
  • Tools to create the course

What do you think? Which strategy should Billy use for this course?

  • Looking at the purpose and timelineof the course, should Billy use a scenario-based strategy?
  • Considering the target audience and the budget, should Billy use gamification to create the course?

Timeline is also an important factor to consider. So, keeping in mind all the aspects of the course, Billy suggests partial gamification as the strategy to create the course. In partial gamification, the knowledge checks and assessment of a courseare gamifiedusing game elements like scores and rewards.
Let us look at some of the popular learning strategies onebyone.
Strategy 1
Storytelling or Storytorial
As the name suggests, it uses the powerful, ancient method of passing information from one generation to another – telling stories – to create a course. People remember stories their parents told them when they were kids.
It can be in the form of:

  • Anecdotes
  • Narration between characters

In both the cases, the story should unveil a solution to a problem or a conflict as the course continues.
Why should you use storytelling as a learning strategy?

  • It keeps the learners hookedas the story unveils piece-by-piece.The element of suspense as to what happens at the end of the story drives immersive learning, keeping the learners fully engaged and engrossed in the course.
  • The course becomes as enjoyable as reading a story in a comic book, as against a mundane thesis reference.
  • The sequence of the story or the flow of the content is clear. Therefore, a good cognitive flow is automatically established in the learners’ mind.
  • A well-plotted storyensures long-term retention of the information learnt.

How can you implement it in your course?
You can implement it in your courses by:

  • Introducing and using characters that are relevant to the learners
  • Weavingthe story with a key plot, which is the problem and then explaining how it is resolved
  • Developing the plot in such a way that it connects with the learners emotionally
  • Using narrative audio toadd value to the course while ensuring that it does not distract the learners

Strategy 2
There are two types of scenario-based strategies.
Mini scenarios
In this type, learners come across many small scenarios which are not inter-related. In each scenario, they get to face a real-life situation and choose a course of action in that situation. After they have made their choice, they are given feedback as to whether their decision was correct or not.
Why would you use it?
You can use it if you want to cover many real-life and possible situations.
Branching Scenarios
In branching scenarios, learners go through a series of inter-connected scenarios wherein their one decision leads them to another situation for them to take another decision.
Why would you use it?
These scenarios would help learners:

  • Realiseand confront their own decisions
  • Learn from wrong decisions theymake in complex scenarios
  • Encounter various distracting situations to make themmore informed

How can you implement it in your course?
To integrate it in your course:

  • Create a scenario that is relevant
  • Include around seven to eight decision-making points
  • Allow the learners to return to the previous decision-making point
  • Include some bad or incorrect decision points where theywould quickly fail

Strategy 3
Guided Exploration with Discussion
In this strategy, a guide (mentor or expert) and a mentee have a discussion where the mentee enquires about many things that he/she is curious to know. During the discussion, the mentor guides him/herwith appropriate answers.
Why would you use it?
You can integrate this strategy when you are creating a course out of dull content for onboarding new hires.
How can you integrate it?
You can integrate it keeping these points in mind:

  • You should always introduce the mentor and the mentee with relevant bio data.
  • Their bio data should be relevant in the context of the client’s industry.
  • It is advisable not to continue discussing through the course to avoid build development and design hiccups.
  • To counter the hiccups, you can include the discussion between them in first two or three screens andthen let the mentor continue explaining the concepts.
  • As the discussion is generally between two people, it is advisable to include audio with a proper audio strategy.

Strategy 4
Application Simulation
In this strategy, you create a similar experience for the learners to make them feel as if they are working on the real application. Let us take a very simple example. If you are creating an application simulation on how to save a Word document in Microsoft Word, you would let them perform themselves the exact steps to save a file in MS Word in a simulated tool, which is:

  • Click the File menu (A list of options appear)
  • Click Save As from the options (The Save As dialog box appears)
  • Type a file name in the File name text box
  • Click Save in the Save As dialog box (The file is saved.)

Why would you use it?
The best way to learn is hands-on practice. Application simulation provides an opportunity for learners to lay their hands on the simulated application making them confident even if there is a chance of making mistakes.
How can you integrate it in your course?
You can integrate it in your course, if the course:

  • Is about an application and requires a higher cognition level (Apply)
  • Aims to teach the learners steps to perform certain tasks

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