Learning Designer Diaries – Taking the yawn out of compliance


Endlessly supportive though he is of what I do for a living, my husband does not share my enthusiasm for online learning. His spirits are dampened as the three-yearly mandatory fire safety module approaches once more. It’s dull so he moans about having to do it. Yet what could be more important to an organisation and its employees than the continued existence of both?

No doubt the learning objectives are covered, but I suspect a little understanding of human psychology would transform this module:

  • Grab their attention right from the start by showing the impact of getting it wrong.
  • Make it relevant by telling a personal story – what happens if I stop to put my coat on, or go back for my phone?
  • Let the shocking statistics speak for themselves – what’s the consequence of a one minute delay? Or two minutes?
  • Find out what they know already with a diagnostic challenge at the outset – personalise the rest and skip the unnecessary.
  • Create bite-sized activities, combining different media to vary the delivery.
  • Use an immersive simulation – explore different scenarios in safety; it doesn’t have to be budget-busting.
  • Turn it into a game – increasing in popularity, as we understand more about how they motivate and appeal to our competitive nature.

Compliance e-learning really doesn’t have to be yawn-inducing, if we just stop to think about why it’s mandatory in the first place. Take the suite of modules on safety that we recently delivered to a major UK retailer. Realistic and thought-provoking scenarios based on custom-scripted videos, beautifully shot in store locations… but that’s a diary entry for another day.

Sue Rennoldson is Lead Instructional Designer at WillowDNA

Sue Rennoldson is Lead Instructional Designer at WillowDNA