Training-sensitive subject matter can be tricky, and taking it online without a facilitator to provide context and answer questions and the challenge is even greater. Sensitive subject matter includes matters of hearts, minds, and beliefs, such as mental health, harassment, bullying, discrimination and cultural competence.
Explore seven tips for effectively delivering sensitive subject matter through e-learning in a relatable and diplomatic manner.
1. Form an emotional connection.
Generating an immediate emotional connection is vital to engage learners with sensitive subject matter. Content should be presented in a relevant and relatable context that clearly states the “why” of participating in the training and “how” the information links to daily work. Creating an emotional hook can be achieved through clever use of written or audio-narrated anecdotes or videos of real employee stories where appropriate. Once your learners are engaged and emotionally connected, you can then deliver learning messages, confident that they will be retained.
2. Select appropriate delivery mechanisms.
Delivery mechanisms should be appropriate for the subject matter discussed. For example, a scenario involving sexual harassment in the workplace might be better presented through illustrations rather than photographs. If you do not want to use real characters, you could include a disclaimer at the start of the training to say that the cast members are not real employees and the situations are reenactments.
3. Consider a blended solution.
Supporting e-learning content with a face-to-face workshop in a blended solution can provide a supportive, safe environment to ask questions and explore content further. Key content can be presented in concise e-learning modules so that the face-to-face training can focus on the practical application of knowledge through role-plays and group discussions. If you want to keep everything digital, consider the use of an online discussion forum or hub where learners can connect and share ideas and experiences.
4. Provide opportunities for self-reflection.
Perhaps one of the most vital mechanisms for ensuring that sensitive subject matter is understood and retained is self-reflection. You can place the learner within a scenario, or at pivotal moments, step out of the scene and present “What would you do?” style questions to prompt learners to think about the action they would take when faced with a similar situation.
5. Use virtual facilitators or guides.
A video facilitator, or photographic guides accompanied by audio, can help explain content and lead learners through online content. This technique adds a friendly, human element to the training, which assists in making the content relatable.
6. Evaluate the learning experience.
A summative assessment might not always be appropriate for sensitive content or general awareness training; instead, you can use a well-written evaluation to gather feedback from your learners. You could incorporate a pre-evaluation at the beginning of the e-learning and a post-evaluation at the end to measure if the training has initiated a perception shift.
7. Extend learning beyond online training.
To reinforce the online learning experience and ensure that key messages are committed to memory, consider following up with a post-training campaign. This could include creating a series of posters to hang in your workplace or email memes, each displaying a key learning message or crucial scene from a scenario with accompanying information.
These tips will help you deliver sensitive subject matter through e-learning in a way that is easily comprehendible and relatable.
Ruby Spencer is the director of global curriculum development at PulseLearning.