When you understand how adults learn, it allows you to create more effective eLearning training materials. One of the primary components that is important to understand in the adult learning process is that we want to learn in a way that we can then quickly apply to a real-world situation.
Adults often see learning as an opportunity to develop new skills that will let them solve a real problem they face in the workplace, and they want the information they are learning to be relevant.
Making learning materials relevant to your employees’ job in the immediate future is one of the best ways to improve engagement, comprehension and retention. You are going to maximize your return on investment for your eLearning if you are able to capture these concepts, and tailor your materials to these goals.
The Importance of Case Studies
One of the best ways to provide relevancy and keep learners engaged is through the use of case studies. Case studies are really a type of learning that focuses on developing skills for problem-solving, and they can be created in a way which is specifically relevant to the learner, and gives them a groundwork for solving the problems set forth in the case study, that can then be transferred to real situations. This gives employees an immediate avenue to utilize their new skills.
Case studies can also be used to provide instant feedback. In this sense they show a result for what actually happened, and allow the learner to then compare how they would have handled the situation against what was actually done.
When to Use a Case Study
As with anything in eLearning-based training, you need to make sure your case studies are effective. If you are trying to decide whether or not a case study would be appropriate in your eLearning, think about the following situations where they work well:
- Case studies are not as ideal for hard skills, or specifically-detailed facts you may be trying to convey. They tend to work better to teach soft skills, or to help employees better understand overall concepts, versus the specifics. Case studies do not have a lot of relevance if you want your employees to understand a specific set of data, or safety guidelines.
- Using case studies in your eLearning can be a great way to provide opportunities for teamwork and collaboration, which is again valuable in the teaching of soft skills. You can provide a path for your learners to work together to come to a solution to a problem, which is beneficial for leadership and interpersonal skill development.
- If you want to empower your employees in the decision-making process, case studies can be a valuable tool. Case studies are good for working through potentially ambiguous outcomes that are possible in a given situation, and they really equip employees with the tools they need to analyze a situation and make a decision.
A Framework for Creating Case Studies
While your actual case studies may vary based on your unique organizational needs, when you include them in eLearning it can be valuable to loosely follow a format that creates a systematic set of guidelines for going through the case study. This systematic approach for problem-solving can then be applied to real-world situations in the workplace.
An example of this system could look like this:
- The context of the problem or issue should be laid out clearly, along with any relevant facts or information, and the background of the situation.
- At this point, the employee should be able to clearly identify the problem at-hand, and the goals that come with resolving the problem.
- Employees should be able to create several different possible solutions for dealing with the problem at-hand.
- After coming up with a range of solutions, employees should be able to choose the best one.
- Then, after creating their own solution, the case study should progress to show how the situation concluded in reality, and the learner should have opportunities to compare their own solution to what actually occurred.
Case studies are a unique and valuable tool and work well to create proactive problem-solvers in your organization. When used in the right way they can make your eLearning more engaging and effective, and teach important soft skills that are often difficult and challenging for both the employer and the learner.