eLearning for the Legal Industry: Stop “One-Size-Fits-All” Thinking

If you’re a law firm trainer, you should know about Tim Slade. He is a speaker, author and award-winning eLearning designer. He has his own website and I follow his blog closely. I just like the way he thinks… often, because his advice aligns so beautifully with Savvy’s approach to learning content. (I do also pay attention to experts who challenge my world view! Today, though, I’m sharing a blog that confirms Savvy’s approach to eLearning for law firms.)

Recently, Slade wrote an article titled, “Let’s Stop Asking These 3 Questions About ELearning.” It begins:

As I’ve been working within the eLearning industry over the last 10 years or so, I’ve realized there are some questions about eLearning we should stop asking. And I’m serious! We should take them out back and bury them never to be found again!

“What are these “questions about eLearning” I’m talking about? Well, they’re questions that, when asked and answered, usually result in lousy learning experiences and undesirable performance outcomes.

He goes on to list the three questions we should “never ask” and also shares alternate questions that we should be asking. I thought I’d share his thoughts and add my two cents!

Three Questions to Stop Asking about ELearning

1. Should we build an eLearning course or instructor-led training?

“…learning isn’t one thing or another—it’s not a binary choice between eLearning or ILT, a job aid or how-to video. The truth is, learning is a process of experiences, which can and should be as diverse as possible.

Instead of asking whether the training you’re designing should be an eLearning course or instructor-led training, try asking these questions:

  • What would be the best modality for teaching these skills?
  • How can we create a blended learning experience for this topic?
  • What considerations (i.e., number of learners, location of learners, etc.) might affect the learning experience we might want to create?

Terry’s Two Cents: This advice aligns really well with what we already do for our clients! We don’t just decide if a course should be eLearning or instructor-led. Instead, we try to create content that is flexible enough to be delivered the best way for our clients, given their resources, needs, interests, etc. The SavvySMART Content Library is thick with topics that can be delivered in multiple different formats, based on the firm’s expressed needs.

2. What is the recommended length of an eLearning course?

The problem with this question is that it assumes there’s an ideal length for how long learning takes. The truth is, learning takes as long as it needs to take. And as much as it would be convenient to make a one-size-fits-all guideline for eLearning, it always depends on the complexity of the content, the level of masterly you’re looking to achieve through the learning, and how much time your learners can dedicate to the training experience you create.

Instead of asking how long an eLearning course should or shouldn’t be, try asking these questions:

  • What level of effort will it take for learners to reach the desired level of performance?
  • How much time can learners dedicate to formal training in a single sitting?
  • How can we chunk and structure the information to be as effective as possible?

Terry’s Two Cents: The length of a course is another question I get asked all the time. The courses we create for our clients are designed to cover a specific topic. If you can learn/master that topic in 30 seconds to a minute, there’s no need to go longer. But, some things are meatier or require a little bit of setup or reminders on how to perform other steps before you can perform this one. So, there is no magic length that is “right.”

Trainers and learners who use the SavvySMART Content Library can find their topic and pick the delivery method that suits their needs the best: from quick reference guides to step-by-step tutorials, learners can take as little or as much time as they need to learn!

3. How long should it take to build one hour of eLearning content?

Usually, you see this question asked by corporate learning executives, desperately trying to timebox and budget for the amount of time it takes their teams to build a course and get on to the next one.

And you want to know what I think? I think most of it is B.S.! Here’s the thing: how long it takes to develop an eLearning course (or any learning) depends on the unique variables you’re currently facing.

Instead of asking how long it will take to build an hour of eLearning content, try asking these questions:

  • What resources will be required to develop the course by the desired delivery date?
  • What constraints (i.e., other projects, vacations, etc.) might affect the delivery of the course?
  • How can we adjust the scope of the project (i.e., the amount of content, the complexity of the design, etc.) to help us meet the desired delivery date?

Terry’s Two Cents: I actually have some good rules-of-thumb for creating some different forms of content. We state that it takes about 10 hours to create a 5-minute elearning “SCORM” module. However, I’ve really started advocating for our clients to look at alternatives for their own content creation. Probably a half dozen times in the past few weeks, I’ve tried to steer people to simpler ways to create recorded material. It doesn’t all have to be formal “SCORM-compliant” courseware. A video is often all that is needed, and a video can be created a lot of really easy ways, from a GoToMeeting recorded session to using PowerPoint as a screen recorder. I’ve helped a few clients do these over the past several months. (Another benefit of being a Savvy client is that I love helping them craft the best learning for their firm!)

Contact Savvy today if you have questions about eLearning or need learning content for your law firm!


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