banner_graphic_speakerTrainingThe healthcare and pharmaceutical sector is one of the most highly regulated industries in the world. Employees of all levels including: manufacturing, sales, corporate marketing, and clinical trials require stringent training and constant ongoing evaluation. This can become cumbersome…for the learner and the administrator! E-learning has become an invaluable tool in maintaining regulatory compliance. The use of audio, video, animation, and gamification makes training fun, engaging, and – above all – effective. An on-demand learning environment is convenient for the learner and cost-effective for the administrator.

Of course, the e-learning process itself is as highly regulated as the industry it supports.

  • All training must be endorsed by reliable electronic records and signatures

  • The systems and applications used to administer e-learning must be validated regularly to ensure they are functioning as intended

  • Learners must be accurately assessed to ensure they have actually absorbed the e-learning content

The selection of your e-learning solution is critical. From a functional standpoint, it’s imperative that you incorporate automated reporting, online certification, and ongoing security validation. From a learning standpoint, you’ll need to ensure the solution is convenient, accessible and has all of the components necessary to yield the highest retention rate. This all hinges on your platform, delivery, design, and content.

E-learning Platform

You can use an off-the-shelf platform like Moodle or saba. Or you can build a custom solution that fits your exact learning needs. Whichever road you choose, it is important that your platform has the following characteristics:

  • Easy Administration. The process of adding, changing, or updating users, uploading content, or accessing templates to design new instructional programs should be simple.

  • Accessibility. The whole point of e-learning is that your learners can complete their training in a way that’s convenient for them. Your e-learning platform should be accessible and work on any device.

  • User-friendliness. Your users should be able to easily navigate their way through your e-learning, as should your administrators. Look for a platform with navigation that’s relatable and an interface that’s intuitive.

  • Diverse Compatibility. You’ll want to choose a platform that’s compatible with commonly used programs like Adobe Acrobat, PowerPoint, and Word. These are programs that are often used to develop and review content.

SCORM

One way to ensure compatibility is to use SCORM standards for programming. SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) refers to a set of programming standards that accomplish the following goals:

  • Re-usability. The flexibility to incorporate course materials into multiple modules

  • Interoperability. Interchangeable tools and platforms

  • Accessibility. The ability to access course materials from multiple locations

  • Durability. Components that are programmed to withstand technology changes without redesign, reconfiguration, or recoding

There are other standards for e-learning programming. SCORM is the most widely recognized and – therefore – the most highly used. It is managed by the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL). This website link is a great resource to learn more about SCORM programming http://www.slideshare.net/ThinkingCamp/scorm-a-beginners-guide

E-learning Delivery

If your learners are engaging in e-learning on a regular basis to maintain their credentials, you may want to invest in a Learning Management System (LMS). An LMS houses all of your learning modules in one system that provides reporting, tracking, and interchangeable components. If you choose to deliver your e-learning through an LMS, you should be constantly evaluating the system’s capability of achieving and maintaining your goals and more importantly – proving that your goals are being achieved.

Some key components include:

  • Detailed reporting

  • Integration with 3rd-party systems (such as tele/web conferencing platforms, attendee registration, live streaming software, webinar recording, etc.)

  • Tracking and storage of certifications and credentials

A mobile or web application can provide you the same key benefits of reporting, tracking, and storage as an LMS with the additional benefit of being seen on any device. However, content management may not be as robust. It can also be more difficult to manage from a mobile device. The elements of e-learning design become more important in the mobile world.

  • Use less text. Voiceovers, animations and images will help you free up real estate and make the most out of smaller screen space.

  • Design responsively. Remember, the key to successful e-learning is accessibility for the user. That means your app should be optimized for any device.

  • Make navigation intuitive. Navigation becomes more complex to predict when designing an e-learning app that will work consistently across multiple devices. Consider the how, when, and where to develop an app that achieves your learning objectives.

E-learning Design

Design is the greatest opportunity you have to really captivate your learner. Studies show that 50% of the human brain is dedicated to visual functions. Images are easier to process than text and lead to a higher retention rate. Here are some tips for success.

  • Maintain balance between text and images. Yes graphics lead to retention, but go overboard and you may confuse your reader. Try using white space to give graphics breathing room.

  • Add links to increase the bandwidth for additional materials and references without cluttering up the page

  • Use interactive graphics like: animations, simulations, or games. But remember, a little goes a long way. You don’t want to overpower your learning objective.

  • Interactive activities (quizzes, tests, and skill assessments). Guidelines suggest including one small interactive activity every 3rd page and one large-scale activity per module. So you might include one question every three pages with a ten-question quiz at the end of the module. The closer the design of an assessment exercise to the actual activity, the higher the probability the learner will apply the knowledge in their real-life practice

E-learning Content

The most important thing you can do with your content is to keep it minimal. Guidelines suggest keeping each module down to around 8-10 pages. People are more engaged when they feel they are accomplishing something. Overwhelming amounts of information make them feel they are getting nowhere and they will lose interest.

When grouped into smaller segments, information is easier to retain. Try separating your content into “chunks”. Use bullets and numbers where possible. This will optimize scannability and maintain your readers’ attention.

Parting Thoughts

Platform, implementation, design, and programming are critical components to a successful e-learning strategy. We use the word strategy because e-learning is never a one-hit tactic. Maintaining vital job skills, especially in the healthcare industry, is an ongoing process that requires constant training and evaluation. Luckily, there are tested and effective guidelines and standards for developing effective e-learning.

Not sure how to get started? Creative MediaWorks specializes in multimedia solutions specific to the healthcare and scientific communications community with extensive experience designing and programming e-learning solutions. If you would like to learn more about any of the ideas we’ve discussed in this blog, call us today at (800)737-1123 or email us to speak with our Multimedia Manager at info@creativemediaworks.com.

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