In the interest of full disclosure, I am not an expert in designing and implementing e-learning packages. I have very skilled colleagues who do a lot of the heavy lifting on that front. What I am qualified to share is what differentiates Steps digital learning and supports our clients in delivering behavioural change.
Our premise for design in any work we deliver is to use our Steps to Change methodology. We believe, that for any behaviour change to take place people have to be taken through four different stages – See It, Own It, Change It and Live It. In our experience many organisations start with Change It. To put this crudely, change programmes often start with an emphasis on “this is the new focus of the business and this is what we are expecting you to do to bring about change.” We encourage our clients to think about helping their people “See” the need for change. What is it in the behaviour of an organisation that needs to change and why? This allows people to “Own” their behaviours and buy into the need for change. By doing this they are more empowered to move towards the “Change It” stage, which in live events is very much about practicing a different way of behaving(more to come on how we do this digitally!). The final step, “Live it”, is about embedding and living this new way of behaving. This approach, fronted by powerful, human storytelling through filmed drama, and a desire to keep innovating our products, is what makes Steps digital learning different – it creates a digital learning journey more likely to bring about behavioural change.
But how do we do what we do? We’ve spent many years producing traditional e-learning programmes, bringing them to life with the films – but the thing that excites us more is the power of rapid e-learning products, such as Articulate Rise, to quickly engage people in a learning reflection and discussion. For us, the ability to quickly present a situation on video and structure questions and actions around it in the form of micro-learning modules is hugely freeing. Whether we are delivering live, live virtual events, or creating an e-learning package our focus is always on how we engage the participant in this conversation. It may appear a pedantic or semantic choice, but the word participant is very deliberate – we want people to participate and
We believe it is the power of the drama and the storytelling that engages the digital learning participant to see the organisation’s behaviour through the eyes of others, and importantly see that there is another way of behaving. Therefore, we create nuanced filmed scenarios (based on research within the organisation itself) and embed this in our digital learning programmes to engage people on an emotional level, and the films provoke a response. The same principles are true with our digital learning as with our live programmes: logic alone seldom changes behaviour; it is the power of emotional impact that creates the catalyst for change.
The challenge in the digital world is ‘how do you help people own the behaviours, once they have been helped to see them?’. This is where the discussion element comes in – it is hugely important to allow people the space to reflect on their own behaviours, attitudes and beliefs. With self-led learning, we build in reflection activities, encourage offline note-taking and present peer comments and attitudes as “Gogglebox” versions of the drama films – simulating group discussion and provide different perspectives. We always recommend the digital content is discussed in small, self-facilitated groups, or becomes part of a structured conversation with colleagues (for example, as part of team meetings.). This helps ward off the “done the course, got the certificate” attitude often found towards eLearning – and puts human interaction and behaviours firmly at the heart.
So, how do you give people the opportunity to practice or change behaviours in a digital world? Look for opportunities to engage the participant in a variety of “off line” activities to encourage self-reflection. This can include remembering a situation that did not go well and prompting people to think, What did I do?, then asking ‘With the knowledge you have now what could you do? What small change can you personally make? ‘
The filmed scenarios can also be created with different behavioural outcomes. The participant is encouraged to re-think the behaviours and explore what they would do if they were in the characters’ shoes. This allows for the opportunity to reflect on behaviours and work through a variety of different responses, encouraging participants to think about the range of behavioural choices that they have available to them. This approach supports participants to put these new responses into practice.
Here at Steps we are always innovating to find the most effective use of digital and virtual technology. We challenge ourselves to keep innovating and find the most appropriate learning experience, with human engagement and learning experiences at the heart of what we do – and that’s what makes us different.