How To Include User Generated Content In Online Training
User-contributed online articles, step-by-step guides and how-to videos are a go-to for many web surfers. Within the training industry, these resources are generally considered unverified because the content isn’t deeply researched or fact-checked. But it offers a good starting point for any query. It brings broad strokes and knowledge threads you can pursue. And the very thing that makes it unreliable also makes it viable – crowdsourcing. It feels genuine because it comes from ‘people just like you’, rather than potentially intimidating industry experts. Is there a way to tap into this psychological link for corporate training? Or even a way to leverage the expertise of people inside your organization by granting them a channel to share their collective wisdom? Here are some top tips and techniques to incorporate user-generated content into your online training.
- Encourage Participants to Create Prologues and Summaries
It’s good practice to start any online training with a quick introduction. It introduces organizational goals, telling you what to expect. This could be in the form of open-ended questions to test what you know about the subject matter. It also ‘warms up’ your mind to start thinking in the right direction. Or it could be a bulleted list of new knowledge you’ll acquire at the end of the online training module.
Similarly, the chapter can end with a list of what’s been covered. Or the same start-of-chapter questions, but in a different format. This way online learners and instructors can accurately assess knowledge transfer.
Fortunately, because this is an online training course, content isn’t static. Ask trainees to create their own pre- and post- chapter pieces. These can be incorporated into future versions of the online training course. Or even swapped out for existing content if they read better. Often personal anecdotes, illustrations and case studies can bubble up when soliciting this kind of material from your team. Those narratives will be far more effective in both introducing the core topic, and in leveraging their prior schema using language and samples that are familiar to the team members as they arose from their own examples. With this method one of the primary advantages of user generated content begins to become apparent. Discovering the processes, the language and the familiar schema of your learners can improve engagement and enhance the relevance / effectiveness of the training. Some learning delivery systems can even allow you to create a kind of discussion forum where learners can submit their examples, in written formats or even using images, videos and audio recordings.
- Direct from the Source On-The-Job Task Demos
Bosses rarely see things the way their employees do. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. When designing a big picture strategy for example. But in mundane scenarios, the bosses’ detachment from everyday activities makes them ill-equipped to design meaningful training units. They can help with overall lessons on culture and methodology.
For actual tasks, you need on-ground views. And because staff members do these tasks every day, they’re better placed to ‘train’ others. Invite employees to develop their own on-the-job task demos. They’ll be far more effective than online training tutorials designed by executives because the emphasis isn’t on protocol. Demos built by the people that routinely perform said tasks are practical. They focus on the quickest, safest and the most low-fuss way to get the job done. They literally teach by doing.
Encouraging your team to contribute their ideas in this regard, whether you are asking them do demonstrate a process, a procedure, or even a video of their favorite method to perform some task is an excellent way to leverage user generated content. You may find that your team can easily identify prior content (available online) that provides best practices, or that individual experts can demonstrate their own methods, and record those demonstrations for future trainees. For best results, invest in a Learning Management System that supports mobile formats so that everyone can enjoy the demos on their preferred device.
- Gather and Archive Personal Anecdotes
We all love a good story but we’re not all good at telling them. If you’re not convinced, try relaying a joke you heard in a stand-up show or sit-com. Within your office there are lots of great stories. And while water-dispenser banter is mostly about family, kids and weekend activities, they still make good content fodder.
Talk to staff members, shoot them a memo or design an in-house survey or poll. The aim is to collect personal anecdotes that highlight work-related challenges. This can lead to video sessions archiving those stories, or given the right tools, your trainees can even record themselves and associate those stories with the most appropriate skills or learning materials.
Give trainees options. They can record a quick video or audio clip on their phones and upload it themselves. Or they can share their tale with your L&D team who can craft it into a light, entertaining and accessible format. It doesn’t have to be a recording. It could even be a comic strip or a short, animated sequence.
- Faster Turnaround with User-Created Just in time (JIT) Tutorials
Any of the examples above can be used as a JIT resource. But when you’re curating content for the online training tutorial library, it has to fit certain criteria. Just-in-time online training is largely sought during emergencies. A trainee is in a fix and needs a quick solution. Ideally, something they can consume and understand in a minute or two. This could be a product chart that helps a salesperson differentiate similar products and therefore clinch the sale. Or it could be a clip of common phrases or slang. They could save a life when said trainee gets lost in unfamiliar geographical spaces. Maybe they followed their GPS into a swamp in France because something got lost in translation. That JIT online training tutorial can give just enough vocabulary to call for a rescue or to impress a client. And employees who’ve been in these situations are better placed to design these moment-of-need ‘life rafts.’
The key here is to provide an architecture that will allow employees to share such emergency / occasional need assets. While their usage may be small, their availability can be invaluable in the right context. It makes perfect sense to leverage UGC in this context both because the author brings real-life experience, and because the usage will be limited, so spending significant time / resources in the development of such assets may be difficult to justify.
- Reuse and Recycle Past Assessments and Assignments
In traditional education, tests and homework are aimed at assessing how well lessons are learned. Meaning once they’re marked and scored, they’re never reviewed. In the corporate space, every document has the potential to be repurposed. Use past assignments and evaluation exercises as training tools. For example, a replay of a simulation can be used as a demo for future trainees. Or as a basis for debriefs, decision-making discussions or work-pattern analyses. Just be sure to get their permission before you share their results with the rest of the firm via the employee training LMS.
You can also leverage a system which supports collaboration, discussion and content sharing to create archival records of important previous debates and discussions on important topics. Future team members can learn from the discourse of those who have explored the ideas and solutions in the past.
The tricky part of applying user-generated content into corporate training isn’t the application. It’s convincing trainees to upload content to the online training LMS in the first place. Sure, you could evoke your ‘all intellectual property belongs to the company’ clause. But you want them invested and willing to ensure they produce their best content. One excellent mechanism to support this enhanced culture of learning, is to provide a gamified experience for those collaborating and sharing training materials with others. Simple rewards in the form of badges, announcements and gamification points can create a powerful incentive for individuals to participate.
An added benefit is that by tracking those contributions, you can gain valuable insights into the expertise pool among your team. With the right tools, it can be a trivial matter to discover who is the foremost expert on diversity for example, simply by monitoring and tracking their contributions to user generated and social exchanges on that skill / topic. There are a myriad of opportunities for your team to become the crowd that supplement your training materials and breathe life into an active culture of learning. Examples include chapter introductions and summaries. Staff members can produce online training tutorials about their everyday office tasks. Ask them to contribute relevant pieces for the JIT library. And get their approval to use their tests and in-course exercises as learning aids for future classes. Finally, collect work-related stories and craft them as reference material. You can also let online learners record and upload these anecdotes themselves.
Invest in an online training LMS that facilitates collaboration and gives your employees the chance to actively contribute. Adobe Captivate Prime can help you deploy personalized training curriculum that puts employees in the center of their own L&D.
For more details, please write to Adobe Captivate Prime team at firstname.lastname@example.org.