There are lots of books and resources about e-learning.
The problem is, most of them are too generic for law firm use.
A couple of chapters on effective simulations of safety
training means very little if your need is to give lawyers a fast way to learn
the ins and outs of the new document management system. The same goes for the
online learning available from online universities Ė the techniques that go into
developing those materials really donít apply to us.
I'm told an exception is
E-Learning for Law Firms, by
Steven H. Gluckman and
Peter A. Glowacki, which
focuses primarily on CLE (Continuing Legal Education).
So what goes into productive e-learning?
For the user
The e-learning must be easy to use. Lawyers, especially, don't want to
spend time figuring out how to use the application.
It needs to be interactive. E-learning that amounts to a lecture can
work in a private environment with lots of time, but not when you have only a
few minutes to spare. The general rule is that every 3-4 "frames", the
user should have to do something. E-learning simulations make that easy.
It needs to be short. 30-40 frames max, and no more than 7 minutes to
The e-learning should provide feedback. If users respond to a question,
they should be told if they got it right.
For the administrator
If you're going to create your own courseware, an easy-to-use authoring
program helps a lot. You need one that records mouse clicks, etc., and creates
instructions automatically. That said, don't expect it to be that easy.
(See Comparing TutorAuthor and
Captivate for more on this topic!)
You need to be able to monitor students' progress, and you need an easy way
to report on it. Especially if you're just starting e-learning at your firm -
you'll get a lot more acceptance if the powers that be can see results.
Even if you don't survey students in classroom training, you may find it useful
to send out surveys following a rollout, for example. If the survey is
well designed, you'll get useful information, and have something solid to report
to your management.
You need the supporting technology - server space, bandwidth, and the
commitment of your I.T. department to support it. We all know that
training can go to the bottom of the priority list - not only in an emergency,
but as a general pattern. Make sure before you start that you have that
You need a plan for upgrades. When you upgrade, for example, Microsoft
Office, you need a way to upgrade your e-learning. If you buy courseware
from an outside vendor, you need a service contract that will allow you to
upgrade it when necessary. If you create your own courseware, consider
whether the authoring program allows you to replace screenshots or import the
work you have already done.