No is not the answer

“No” Is Not the Answer

When Client Expectations and Best Practices Don’t Align

How often have you encountered a situation in which you were asked to do something, and you knew the request wasn’t the best approach? For example, what if your client asks for a custom learning project to turn a half-day workshop into a 30-minute e-learning without removing any content? Would you just stare at them unblinking? Shake your head in disbelief? Would you be tempted to just say, “no” to them?

Well, I hope for the sake of your client relationship, your answer was none of the above. As an Innovative Learning Group instructional designer, when these requests come in it’s imperative to steer the client to a better solution.

My Story…

I was working with a client to create a custom e-learning on compliance training. The course was to have branching, learner interactions, knowledge checks, and audio.

I started design as I always do when tackling such a project — reviewing existing content, then conducting a subject matter expert (SME) interview. Of course, my interview targeted the “who, what, how, and why” at the root of the content. My questions were answered, and I was given a walk-through on what the client was looking to achieve. If I do say so myself, the interview went very well, and we scheduled a follow-up discussion to address a few remaining details. I wasn’t anticipating anything major as I just needed clarification on a small segment of content.

However, to my surprise additional supporting content was shared that was more than double what I initially reviewed. What to do? We all know the elements that make up a good e-learning, such as the following, among others:

  • Eliminate unnecessary content to create bite-size chunks that support the course objectives.
  • Employ the use of visuals, audio, animations, and other elements to complement content, not duplicate it.
  • Engage learners with interactions that promote learning and connection with the content rather than overwhelming them with “tell.”

I knew adding all this new content was going to be too much and wouldn’t support these elements of good e-learning. But I also knew that “no” wasn’t the answer.

I approached this dilemma by explaining to the client that all the content doesn’t have to be captured as on-screen text, then presented them with options:

  • Use visuals to depict concepts.
  • Include interactions like image markers, pop-ups, and click-to-reveal.
  • Use audio to supplement on-screen text.
  • Provide resource links.

The client knew there was a lot of content but was completely unsure of how to fit it into the e-learning without cramming it all on screen. They wanted a solution that would produce the best custom e-learning module for the topic while achieving their desired results for a creative approach that captured learners’ attention and engaged them. They were so excited about the options I suggested. Instead of “no,” we got to a resounding “yes!”

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