A recent study published by Deloitte indicates that 40% of learning will be facilitated virtually with some organizations moving to 90%. Successful execution was attributed to the intentional and reflective design of the learning experience. When faced with complex and content-heavy training needs, placing intention on the actual learning experience creates yet another hurdle to overcome. How can we overcome these challenges? The short answer is empathy. 

With the EMPATHY learning experience model as the foundation for virtual design, learners are empowered to make deep, meaningful connections within the content presented. 

The model can be broken down into seven components:   

E: Environment 

The environment of learners plays a critical role in the learning experience. Providing a psychologically safe learning environment requires shared understanding, modeling behaviors and skills needed and protecting the privacy of the learner.  

Questions to consider:  

  • Is dedicated time built into the training agenda to provide an opportunity to use the platform? 
  • Are best practices such as lighting, sound and adding a virtual background to maintain privacy provided in advance? 

M: Memorable Moments 

If content is king in the learning space, creating memorable moments with intention is queen. After all, learning is not an event: It is a process.  

Questions to consider:  

  • Does the training agenda include a meaningful icebreaker that allows learners to share personal experiences related to the topic? 
  • Are moments of laughter and/or joy embraced and celebrated?  

P: Peer-to-peer Learning 

Peer-to-peer learning activates the four principles of adult learning: involving the learner in the process, providing the opportunity to use experience as a catalyst for learning, providing the opportunity to share diverse points of view and exploring possible solutions collaboratively.  

Questions to consider: 

  • Are opportunities for information sharing or teaching back provided? 
  • Are instructional activities trainer-focused or trainee-focused? 

A: Attention 

Chunking is the process of breaking complex and often challenging concepts into small pieces. When learners are fire-hosed with information or content, rates of retention and recall decrease. Using a chunking methodology gives you the opportunity to reteach, review and restate. 

Questions to consider: 

  • For a multi-step process, are opportunities to paraphrase, summarize or report out provided for each step? 
  • For content-heavy training, are visuals provided to increase retention and recall?  

T: Time 

The concept of “content shock” challenges professionals in both the marketing and learning space. Content shock occurs when information received exceeds the capacity of the learner to absorb it. Through differentiated instruction, time is maximized and contributes to meeting the needs of all learners.  

Questions to consider: 

  • Have planned activities such as breaks and lunch been excluded from time allocation? 
  • Is there an opportunity for collaboration, Q&A and group discussion devoted for each hour of training?  

H: Heart  

The core values of an organization are guideposts toward meeting common business goals. The content and experience of a learner during training reflect the organization’s value system and culture. Creating a culture of learning begins with modeling the way, committing to excellence and eliciting feedback.  

Questions to consider: 

  • What are your organization’s core values? 
  • What opportunity exists to highlight core values represented throughout the training agenda that can leverage the learner’s experience and success?  

Y: You, the L&D Professional  

Just as core values guide organizations toward a common goal, the learning professional’s educational philosophy guides and informs the real-time approach. 

Questions to consider: 

  • What are my core values? 
  • What is the role of learning in the current environment? 
  • How does my approach align with my core values?  
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