Many complain that eLearning programs and web-based training are impersonal, which hinders student engagement and detracts from the overall experience. But eLearning has significant advantages over traditional teaching methods, including student-guided activities and the ability to review information multiple times for increased retention and understanding.
One way to make eLearning more personal is to include characters or personas in training simulations. Of course, silent characters are not as effective as those who speak! How do you get started?
Use eLearning Characters that Represent Personas
Every business has personas - typical clients or customers that representatives communicate with and content is designed for. When choosing a character for an eLearning situation, it's easy to just stick a face on a script and call it a day... but that won't have a great impact on learning. Instead, choose a character that reflects a typical customer in a specific situation. Give him or her a name, demographic information, and specific pain points, based on what you hear from current customers.
For example, Maybe Mary Smith is a 35-year-old mom who usually calls for customer support from her cellphone while the kids are napping. She doesn't have a lot of time, but needs to know how to use your product. It's likely that a representative should address her needs differently than Tom, an 85-year-old man who has a lot of time to talk, but is not very confident with technology. A rep might want to send Mary a video to watch, showing her how to use the product in question, but walk Tom through the process over the phone.
In a training situation, it's important to use realistic characters that represent customer personas, like Mary and Tom, instead of generic characters, because they provide context for trainees.
Give your characters personality
Although a character might meet a persona, that doesn't mean they have a personality. Give your character a little uniqueness to make them more believable and engaging.
Provide Actual Call Information
Another approach is transcribing a real call, from a real customer, and having it re-recorded for better quality (this helps learners focus: instead of hearing bad audio, they listen to the message). Again, this caller should represent a specific persona and problem that reps are likely to encounter. Then, show reps the right way and wrong way to respond to this situation with another character - Rich the Rep! Later, Rich might come up in review and assessment to reinforce the message.
What kind of characters have you seen used successfully in eLearning? Let us know in the comments.