Tuesday, March 4, 2008


If the focus is on "fun and food", you will attract people interested in "fun and food" rather than the other people who are more interested in improving productivity, advancing careers, networking within the company, etc. I would first try to find out why people aren't interested in the courses you give. My guess is that the top reasons are that they are not convenient given the worker's busy schedules, and that they don't seem worth the effort. By "worth the effort", I mean that the topic is either too broad or too narrow. For example, if you offer a course on Excel, it will probably be too broad in scope for the engineers (and therefore boring). If you specialize is about doing database type queries using Excel, it will be too narrow for the administrative assistants (and therefore boring).

I am a strong believer in web-based training because it allows you to overcome the problems related to convenience and scope (if done correctly). First of all is convenience. If the course is built so that the student can get to it any time they need it and so they can jump quickly to the topic of interest, it becomes more attractive to them. When they can get to the topic of interest in 3-4 clicks, their time on course will be 5-10 minutes, and they will have gotten what they needed. If you instead give them a bunch of 1 hour recorded PowerPoint slide shows, you will forever repel your audience from your course offering. People just don't have blocks of 1 hour to sit down and watch a narrated "PPT-mentary" about the topic you're trying to present, even if it has lots of flying bullets and dancing pigs. Additionally, content retention is typically 20-40% from the first presentation of the material. If it takes 1 hour to get to a specific piece of material, you are guaranteed that the learners will only visit it once. (Flying bullets and dancing pigs will ensure that the 20% they retain is about the dancing pigs.) If the material is really convenient, they will come back to it over and over. In the repetition, their knowledge retention will increase.

Secondly, structure your content so that it can reach different audiences based on their needs. Include pages with bullet points that give the highlights of the subject. On this page, add links to sub-pages that give the topic in more details. That way, if someone really wants to delve into it, they can. The sub-pages should provide alternate presentations: A screenshot simulation, a step-by-step table, an interactive simulation (e.g. Flash), a case study, a homework task, a quiz, a test. Each of these presentation styles will reach a different audience, thereby making your courses more attractive - people will be able to control their own learning.

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