How legally-required recurring elearning defeats its own purpose

Posted by Greten on 01 Nov 2020 under Thoughts

Elearning is among the most-tapped solution in providing necessary training to employees. It is usually less expensive than inviting a speaker or a lecturer. Its asynchronous nature is something that many employees appreciate because they can work on it after they completed the more important tasks related to their job function.

However, some elearning lessons were made not necessarily for the employees to learn, but merely to follow specific laws. As a result, some companies repeat the same elearning lessons every year during the months leading to government auditors' inspection. Many of us have to go through the same elearning lessons every year about topics such as sexual harassment, diversity and inclusion, and drug-free workplace.

Wooden court gavelWhile these lessons are great, and putting them in practice makes workplaces safe and secure, repeating the same materials every year prevents employees from taking them seriously. An employee could be thinking, "I know this already. I will just skip to the exam." Or perhaps, "I do not really need to learn this. I am already familiar with the exam. I know how to game it."

It does not help that the instructional designers and developers created the quizzes for these lessons with deliberate instructions of making them easy so that more employees could pass, not for the employer's satisfaction, but the government regulators.

The situation is that all stakeholders: the employees, the employer, and the instructional designers, are working on the elearning lessons to tick off a checklist. No one has any real motivation to learn, and no one is interested in providing and considering feedback that can make the next iteration of the elearning better.

To make recurring elearning on government-required subjects more interesting so that real learning happens. Consider the following:

  • Examine the government regulations on the minimum amount of times an employee needs to take the lesson or training. Do they need to repeat it every six months, every year, or every two years? Then, consider sticking to the minimum unless there are important updates.
  • If there are important updates, catch the learner's attention to these updates at the beginning of the lesson, and then provide the details to the section or subtopic where it is most appropriate. For example, your lesson can mention in the introduction that the case R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission extends the definition of sex discrimination in the United States to include gender identity discrimination. Then, provide the bulk of the details on the section that gives information on what constitutes sex discrimination. Avoid making a section or subtopic dedicated only for updates because the learners can game the elearning by skipping to that section.
  • Use random quiz questions drawn from question pools. Elearning authoring tools such as Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline have features that let you create random quiz questions. There are also learning management systems (LMS), such as Moodle, that have the similar random quiz feature. This way, learners will pass through different sets of quiz questions whenever they retake the elearning lesson.
  • Write quiz questions that focus on application and higher-order thinking skills. Instead of asking, "Which of the following statements defines hostile environment?" ask something like, "During lunch breaks, Alex and Drew have loud conversations in the pantry that include lewd jokes. What should Kyle, who finds their jokes demeaning, do to be able to use the pantry?"
  • Exert effort on making the learning experience better for government-mandated lessons and training. However, allocate the bulk of your effort to elearning lessons that impart knowledge and skills that are directly connected to the employees' job function, whether mandated by the government or not. For example, using tools, the proper way of wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), and ways to deal with irate customers.

We may not all agree with governments' actions (plural because I refer to governments of all countries), but they are here to establish peace and order and to balance the interests of different sections. The law is harsh, but it's the law, and thus, we all need to follow. In a democratic country, you have some influence, no matter how small, to change the laws that you believe are a burden to your organization without any tangible benefit. Still, until you managed to do so, you have to follow.

Last updated on 05 Nov 2020.

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Instructional design and educational technology for effective learning