Reviewing E-Learning: Lessons Learned From My Dog

Not too long ago, I spent a day on the couch. I was sick as, well, a dog. As I lay there, I watched my puppy play with one of her chew toys. And the more I watched her, the more intrigued I was. As I observed her patterns, it occurred to me that what Sophie was doing related really well to one of the tasks I do almost daily: reviewing e-learning. Whether it’s storyboards or an online draft, there’s almost always something for me to take a look at. And the way Sophie played with her toy that day was a good representation of some strategies we can all use to make reviewing e-learning more effective. Allow me to share a little wisdom I learned from my four-legged friend.

Tammis Dog-01

One end gets chewed on more than the other.

As I watched Sophie chew on her toy, it was obvious that one end was her favorite. It was worn down and well-chewed, while the other end looked new, right out of the package. It’s so easy to let that same thing happen when reviewing an e-learning course. We start at the beginning of the storyboards or the online draft and work our way forward, always attacking the same part of the project with the most energy. This makes for a very polished beginning and a somewhat neglected ending. Instead, try starting in the middle the next time you’re reviewing an e-learning course. Or start on the last page and work your way backwards. It’s amazing how different things look when you just approach them in a different order.

Sometimes you need a change of scenery.

While she chewed on her toy, Sophie would suddenly get up and change positions, taking her toy with her and continuing to chew it. Sometimes she moved a few feet, and other times she moved to a completely different room. Every time she changed locations, she took her toy with her and kept on chewing; she just did it somewhere else. I’ve noticed that, when I’m reviewing a course, a change of scenery works wonders for me, too. If you’re starting to feel a little frustrated, and you have the ability to take your work with you, try moving around. If you’ve been working in a home office, try setting up shop in the kitchen. Or, try changing locations entirely, heading to the library or a coffee shop. New surroundings can help you clear your mind and refocus.

Ask for help if it’s stuck under the couch.

Sophie kept nudging her toy closer and closer to the couch, and eventually she managed to get it stuck underneath it. After giving it a good effort and realizing she couldn’t get to it by herself, she licked my hand until I retrieved her toy. If only we humans realized more often that asking for help is sometimes the quickest and most efficient way to move forward. If you’re like me, you have moments when you’re reviewing a course when you get stuck somewhere along the way. You know the wording isn’t right, but you can’t seem to improve it. You know something about the slide isn’t quite working, but you can’t put your finger on it. Talking it over with someone almost always helps. Just saying it out loud is sometimes all you need; other times, it’s your peer’s wisdom and insight that solves the problem. Either way, getting a fresh perspective gets you rolling again.

You can only play with a toy for so long—even a favorite.

Sophie spent a long time chewing on her toy that day. And just as suddenly as she started, she stopped. She was ready to move on to the next thing, even though that toy was her very favorite. She’d return to it later, when the time was right. The same thing applies to reviewing e-learning. You can only do so much before you become less effective, before the words start to blur together or you lose focus on what the narrator is saying. Stay sharp by building breaks into your schedule—even if, like me, reviewing an e-learning course is one of your favorite tasks. If you’re the kind of person who likes to check things off your list, try chunking the review. That allows you to “cross something off” and feel a sense of accomplishment without forcing yourself into burnout. Know when it’s time to stop, and come back to it later. Your projects will be better for it, and reviewing e-learning won’t become something you dread.

What tips do you have for reviewing e-learning more effectively?

Tammi Ritter
Artisan E-Learning

2 Responses to “Reviewing E-Learning: Lessons Learned From My Dog

  • Lina Zampichellli
    3 years ago

    Wonderful analogies. Thanks for sharing. I will recall your story when I use different approaches, ask for help or take a break 🙂

  • Tracy Swanson
    3 years ago

    I read this article because of the really cute dog. Lesson: put a cute dog in the course visuals. Thanks!

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