Teaching technical concepts is not an easy task, and delivering technical information through eLearning is an additional hurdle to overcome. Online learners often tune out, click through text-heavy slides barely skimming information, and still get that satisfying “check the box” completion status on their assigned training – all without actually retaining a thing.
The core challenge of creating technical training is to translate very dry, mundane information into a memorable and engaging experience. The information must also clearly explain the inflection points where the learner should choose one option over another. How can you make sure your training hits both of these marks? Working with the right Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) will be central to your success. The learners will need context of where the technical information fits into their job, and this is where SMEs can help. Developing training that makes users relate to the technical information goes back to a cornerstone of sound instructional design – answering the learner’s question, “what’s in it for me?” Technical training ideally involves hands-on time with the new technology. Screencasts and screenshots can only teach users so much. By passively learning technical concepts through videos and demonstrations, then putting the acquired information to action, the learners will form stronger memories of the process they are absorbing. No matter how technical an employee’s job may be, a robot cannot perform the job for them – the human skill of decision-making is what keeps them in a job. With that in mind, make sure your technical training has a human element, and allows the learner to apply information to real-world scenarios. Providing learners with an on-the-job scenarios and opportunities to practice, prepares them to successfully transfer their new knowledge and skills to their workplace.
In addition to providing the learner with hands-on exposure and relating the technical information to real-world scenarios, learners should be assessed for understanding the material. This can be done through simulations that test both theory and application. Multiple choice questions allow learners to guess responses. Games and simulations, on the other hand, provide the opportunity to apply information, make mistakes, correct them, and move forward. Support documents are critical for technical training retention, so building out robust reference materials should always be part of your training plan. Because technical training is very detailed, it is expected that the learner will not retain everything. Therefore, creating a downloadable quick reference guide is essential, as it will allow learners to review the information quickly, without needing to retake the entire course.
The Instructional Design for eLearning: Essential guide to creating successful eLearning courses book provides additional details and best practices for creating technical eLearning. This book is also available in Spanish. Additionally, purchase the Instructional Design for eLearning course to learn about designating instructionally sound eLearning materials.