How I used Wordle as a basic TNA tool

Last Friday I spoke at the last eLearning Network event of the year, ‘innovation in compliance training’. I’d been really looking forward to the event for weeks, because (as regular readers will know) I’m a big advocate of breaking the mould of the same old dreary, dull compliance training we’ve all seen before.

I also wanted to make sure my presentation wasn’t just the same old thing either. I wanted to make sure that I delivered something that really addressed what people wanted to get out of the event. So I decided to do a bit of research and use Wordle to help me achieve this.

In preparation for my session, I asked Good To Great readers, the Twitter community and eLN event attendees to sum up their last compliance e-learning experience in three words. After about 10 days, I plugged all the responses into Wordle, and you can see the result here. (For anyone not familiar with Wordle, the biggest words are the ones that appeared most frequently in the responses.)

There are some positive words there: visual, engaging, interesting and action focused are all good things. Unfortunately, the most common words are less positive: boring, tedious, forgettable, tick box exercises are the things we need to get away from.

None of this, though, is particularly new or surprising, which is why my survey was a two-parter. As a general rule in my experience of e-learning people find it easier to talk about what they don’t like than what they do like, so this was just a warm up exercise. I then asked people to describe the compliance e-learning they want to see more of.

The first thing that struck me was that there are fewer words in this case (and I had a similar number of responses to both questions). This is good, because it means we’re all on broadly the same page in terms of what we want compliance e-learning to look like.

When I took a closer look at the responses, I realised that most of the words fall into one of three categories, each of which can be summarised by one of the three headline words that appeared most frequently:

  • The user experience (stimulating, interactive, surprising, fun – or engaging)
  • The relationship of the e-learning to the user’s work (practical, meaningful – or relevant)
  • The user’s ability to apply the learning (transferable, reducing risk – or effective)

(These words also happen to be my top three words for all good e-learning, so perhaps compliance e-learning doesn’t need a different design approach, just a different attitude?)

Anyway, these categories are all about the experience and reality of the user, so rephrasing those three headline words into something more user-focused, I came up with three things that we should all be aiming to do with our compliance e-learning:

  • Make them care
  • Show them it matters
  • Help them live it

Throughout the rest of my session (slides to follow shortly) I took each of these aims in turn and offered some tips and suggestions for achieving them. By letting the e-learning and compliance communities determine the content of the session, and then offering practical tips and examples, I hope that I delivered something that was itself engaging, relevant and effective!

14 thoughts on “How I used Wordle as a basic TNA tool

  1. Craig Taylor

    You certainly did Stephanie. I loved the use of Wordle as TNA tool… I think you may have started a craze as I know that I and 1 or 2 other people have ‘jumped on your bandwagon’!

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  3. Ryan Tracey

    Wordle as TNA tool… brilliant!
    This technique could be used beyond compliance too. I’m thinking technical training in particular.
    Your last par introduces the idea of co-design. I’d love to see that explored further.

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  5. stephaniededhar Post author

    Thanks for all your comments; I’m glad to have provided some food for thought! I’m sure there’s loads more that can be done with this and hope I’ll be able to explore it further, but would love to hear about anything you do building on this idea too. Make sure to come back and share your success stories!

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