Dealing with plain course

Aug 30, 2012

Hi there,

I've just realized that I've been working for 1 year in the e-learning.

I'm pretty much doing the same job, using the same schemes, the same style and so on. My limit of course!

That's why I'm trying to expand my e-learning horizons.

I often see very interactive courses, role play and other very interesting solutions. Though I've noticed that those courses generally deal with procedures, choices or proper behaviours, which are suitable for interactions, videos and so on... while I usually deal with very plain courses: laws, descriptions, regulation which are very difficult (to me) to make interactive or engaging.

I guess that's due to the kind of formation demanded in Italy: you have to update because law tells you so.

Heroes, inspire me!


6 Replies
Saenna B Ahman

Hi Mauro, i think a big key to making a course more engaging is to ask what the learner needs to DO with the content you're giving them. Then use the course to give them opportunities to practice those things. yhou mentioned you are making courses about laws, descriptions, and regulations --- i would start by asking: why do the courses exist? or: what do you want your learners to DO with those laws, descriptions, and regulations? or, what changes in behavior or performance are learners expected to demonstrate after they complete the course? Once you know the answers to those questions, you can build exercises into your courses that require the learner to ACT on what they're learning.

Can you give us an example of the content you are teaching, and how you want your learners to respond to it? maybe we can hyelp you come up with some exercises that would make your course engaging.

James Brown


Designing interactive content takes a little learning but you came to the right place. There are a wide range of ways that materials may be presented and the content you see here comes from individuals who have been in this industry a long time. However if you can us a little about what you are presenting we may be able to offer you some ideas of presenting this material in a more robust fashion. If you have not done so, subscribe to Tom Khulman's weekly rapid-elearning blog. He presents some really great ways to present things and how to spruce up your presentations.

Mauro Gaiotto

Seanna, thanks for your answer!

For example I'm working on a course for aspirant (is this the right word?) Energy Manager and the content owner gave me a sequence of many laws explaining his functions. I could think nothing more than papers coming in one by one.

Anyway, the questions you put are really interesting and useful. Maybe I simply have not much time to make a sort of storyboard and then I always rely on the same techniques.

Mike Taylor

I'll second the comment that it's most important to identify what your audience should DO. Cathy Moore's Action Mapping approach is a really good way to get started with this way of thinking.

Here's a great introduction to it "How action mapping can change your design process"

Bob S

Hi Mauro,

First off... You have indeed come to the right place. I am constantly inspired by the folks in this community.

Second... Having lived in the "compliance training" world for a long time, I know exactly how frustrating and uninspiring creating legally-required training can be. Bot don't give up... there is hope!

As mentioned above, the key is to consider what your users have to DO with the knowledge of the regulations. For example...

  • Do your users have to choose certain actions based on their knowlege of the regulations?
  • Do your users have to be able to recognize certain violations of the regulations?
  • Do your users have to be able to teach others about the regulations?
  • etc, etc

Once you start framing the training discussion in those terms, certain interactive elements start to pop out at you.

A personal example from my past... My users had to be able to recognize certain "red flag" scenarios for possible Terrorist Financing then act upon those red flags appropriately.

One technique we used was a panel of "experts" that gave advice along the way. Each expert had their own personae and mini-history.... one was ultra conservative and old-school... one was carefree and loose with the rules.... etc.   Along the way the learner would poll the experts for their advice on what they would do with the situation at hand. In that way, the learner was involved, the correct answer was there if needed, and they had to make good decisions on who to listen to which started them down the path of critical thinking about the topic.

Hope this helps and congratulate yourself for reaching out for new ideas and methods,


Mauro Gaiotto

@James: Tom Khulman's weekly rapid-elearning blog is a very nice resource indeed. Thanks for the information

@Mike: I didn't know the Action Mapping process. Very handy

@Bob: Those questions are really useful. Moreover the example you provided gives me many ideas for further solutions.

Many thanks for your precious answers and advices!

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