We are all egocentric at heart. We love being recognised. We love to think that not only are we special, but other people get that we are special.
Coca Cola's 'share a Coke' campaign which has been running in markets outside the USA over the past few months uses this in perhaps it's most simple, yet powerful, way; it simply puts people's names on the Coke bottles. Sales are up 15%.
Personalising elearning can have an equally dramatic impact on the engagement you can make with your learners. Here are three key areas where you can look at personalising your elearning systems:
1. Personalise the course.
Probably the most obvious place to start, this can be as simple as capturing and inserting the learners name into the content (now easy to do using tools like Articulate Storyline). Further examples of personalisation at the course level could be based on sex, age, and location. Or even based on wider environmental factors such as the time of day or month of the year. All these quite simple customisations can have a quite dramatic effect on keeping the learner engaged with a course that now seems so much more relevant and 'aware'.
2. Personalise the LMS
However you deliver your courses, there is probably a portal the learners must login to to access them (and this is probably an LMS). Rarely nowadays would this be totally unbranded, but there really is so much more than can be done than simply modifying the front screen to use your corporate colours and have a logo tacked onto the top left hand corner.
Deeper customisation of the learner portal should ensure the site fully reflects your core brand values. If your employees have bought into the fact that they should be proud to work at Acme PLC, you shouldn't disabuse them of this thought just before they commit their spare time to learning about your new health and safety policy. Keep them committed by taking every opportunity to stress why they are right to feel great about their job, their colleagues and their customers.
The language used by Learning Management Systems off the shelf can be a little, how shall I put this, well - boring. Now, that very formal corporate voice could be just what you want (I'm looking at you, International Law Firm), but if you are an über-cool high street fashion brand you probably want to use the language your employees (and customers) use. And have a visual design language that matches.
Oh, and this shouldn't just be on the login page but should permeate the entire portal.
3. Messaging Personalisation
Finally, an often over looked opportunity to personalise your elearning is in the communications that surround it. From course availability announcements, to nudge emails reminding people to hurry up and complete their curriculum, these can all benefit from the personalisation we have discussed above.
Make sure, where possible, they are addressed to people by name. Change default text to considered language the uses the voice of the organisation. And modify the content based on the characteristics of the audience. For example, if you are sending our details of a new starters' induction session you might want to be more explicit about what they need to do to login to the system and where to go for help should they need it.
All this undeniably takes more time and effort than an unthinking homogeneous approach. But if the challenge of online learning is how to gain and maintain the attention of the learner, then few efforts will prove as rewarding as personalisation. The Coke bottle on my desk, winking my name back at me, will attest to that!