Creating a compelling and effective learning experience on a social learning platform — like NovoEd, which we've used for several projects — requires a unique set of instructional design skills. Luckily, our Senior Performance Consultant, Connie Shimek, is an instructional design wizard. We sat down with Connie after developing a particularly robust social learning training program so she could shed some light on the process.

Q: How is designing for a collaborative social learning experience different than traditional design for a classroom environment?

A: Approaching design for a collaborative social learning experience is like designing for a classroom in the beginning. Both require you to create learning outcomes that match organizational needs. Both require you to determine topics and create learning objectives. Both designs should lead to an engaging learning experience.

After that, design for a collaborative social learning platform has additional elements. You need to get familiar with your social learning platform so you know the features available to make your content effective for today's learner and the organization. For example, it may be important to utilize platform features that capture specific learner analytics. Or, you may need discussion forums, team formations, or self-paced learning.

Once you understand the platform features, you can map the topics you outlined in the beginning to the best medium for your blended-learning experience. It isn't black or white. You must be open to new ideas, be innovative, and challenge your thinking about how you designed previously. For example, you may have always taught complex skills such as coaching in the classroom. Now you consider offering videos, articles, assignments, and discussions prior to the learner attending a classroom. The learner is then ready to and has more time to practice their new coaching knowledge in the classroom. It is about adapting to the learner and meeting them where they are.

Q: What tips and cautions do you have for effective design on a platform such as NovoEd?

A: Don't get caught up in the novelty of using a social learning platform; novelty wears off if the learner is not engaged and the outcome ineffective.

Also, don't think you can just take your classroom facilitator content and throw it onto the platform. For example, large amounts of content that you might present in the classroom as handouts don't translate well to a social learning experience. You should design to keep the learner engaged and interacting with the content. You want them to discover the key learning and not just read it. This can be done through concise topic introductions, a short and impactful video, followed by an article or discussion with their peers.

Practical Training Design and Development Tips eGuide

If you found this post interesting, you might also enjoy our eGuide, Practical Training Design and Development Tips, which helps designers and developers strike a balance between design/development time and instructional effectiveness. The eGuide begins by first looking at the traditional instructional design and development model, ADDIE. From there, you'll find handy tips and tricks to help you shorten the training design and development cycle, focus the training on key outcomes, and create training that is twice as impactful in half the time.

Access eGuide