A large American Telecom company learned this the hard way. They deployed an eLearning tutorial to train their employees on the use of a new internal collaboration application. This new tool is a file management and sharing system with a virtual social space intended for communication. The intention was to encourage employees to use it, and to maximize its effectiveness.

It was a noble eLearning attempt: 64 vignettes with video clips featuring live amateur actors engaging in dialog. Each vignette began with exactly the same introduction (conceivably for the sake of continuity), and scenes were devised to train employees on the various aspects of usage.

Well, the audience hated it. Scenes were poorly executed, and the dialog was forced and artificial. Employees were bored, and the attempt at encouraging and training employees to use the tool fell flat.

Fortunately for the application and the company, all eLearning is not created equal. The company approached KMI Learning to revamp the eLearning program. And although the client was initially attached to retaining the style and delivery of the previous program, they agreed to KMI’s suggestion for a complete redesign and reboot.

KMI took into consideration the learning styles and needs of the companies employees to create a new format for the delivery of the material. The result: a new design that was uncluttered, easy to navigate, and relevant to individual employees’ needs. The revamped program utilized current, modern technology, which allows for much greater presentation and training flexibility. Customized eLearning content became available on desktop – and laptop computers, as well as on mobile devices via an app. Employees could now find the desired information without having to wade through irrelevant and unnecessary content. In concert with a new navigation design, the tool now provides peer-to-peer learning, social interaction, and feedback. The upshot of all this is that it is now a company-wide tool at the telecom, and employees enjoy learning about it, and using it.

Delivery – A crucial factor

The success of the collaboration application at this corporation hinged on one crucial point of eLearning: delivery. And delivery is the art of bringing together the material and the needs of the audience. Please don’t misunderstand: it’s important to have great content. But great content minus a solid understanding of your audience’s needs can be very costly, with little to show for the effort.

So how do you determine the best way to deliver your content? Simple: find out what your eLearners need. Ask questions. Respect the answers. It’s a good idea to get really interested in how people in your communities learn and retain the information you need for them to have. Remember the old adage: “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”? The truth of that statement was demonstrated by KMI Learning with this client in the real-life example given above.

Custom eLearning content is becoming more and more vital to providing information and training to our communities. But content-centric approaches to training can wind up wasting a lot of time, effort and precious dollars. Delivery methods based solely on content can fail miserably, or at best, succeed marginally. But when we customize content delivery based on the needs of our specific communities of people, we begin to engage in the art of communication.

It begins and ends with our audiences. And that provides the foundation for everyone to win.

This article was first published on elearningindustry.com