Friday, July 24, 2009

Nice to Know vs. Need to Know

As mentioned before, people are busier than ever at work. We have more work to do, and in today's economic climate, there are usually fewer people to help. This means we need to be as efficient as possible to get the job done on time.

It is with this in mind that designers of e-learning (and all training, really) should focus on what's really important. People sitting at their desks are assaulted by phone calls, e-mails, fellow employees and management. What little time they do have for e-learning, they certainly don't want to feel like it's wasted on something that tells them something they either: A) Already know, or B) Don't need to know.

Adults in the workplace want to learn how to DO things. Or they want to know things that will help them DO things better. What do I consider "nice to know" information? My general rule of thumb is, if they can do the task or process without that piece of information, it's just nice to know. Information that is critical in allowing an individual to complete a task or process is "need to know" information.

Does this mean "nice to know" information should be ignored? Absolutely not. But learners should not be forced into learning it, because they may not consider the information relevant to them. However, there are some learners who are self-motivated who may be interested in the "nice to know" information. They may feel they are getting more in-depth learning from this information.

There are simple ways to separate the "need to know" vs. the "nice to know" information, so learners who just want to get the essential information and be on their way, and those who want more information are both appeased.

The easiest way to separate the information is to create rollovers and links that allow users craving more information to access it without disrupting the flow of the course's "need to know" information. Learners who just want the essential information can easily choose to ignore the rollovers and links and move forward. This way you can have one course that appeases both audiences. Just make sure to mention at the beginning of the course that the extra links and rollovers contain additional information, so users know they have the option.

Another method is to simply have separate courses that provide all kinds of "nice to know" information. The disadvantage is a new course needs to be created from scratch, but if it's information that rarely or never changes, it only needs to be done once. An advantage, particularly if you have an LMS, is you can keep track of how many people are accessing the "nice to know" vs. the "need to know" courses.

The most important point is to keep the "nice to know" and the "need to know" information separate. Really examine the information that is being put into an e-learning course and ask yourself, "Does someone NEED this information to perform this task/process/procedure/etc.?" This will keep the core information of your course as short, sweet, and relevant as possible, and your learners will appreciate it.

No comments:

Post a Comment