eLearning for Sensitive Topics: Empathy, Detail & Subject Matter Expertise

Here we look at how to ensure that these 3 key points are baked into your elearning production process.

Highlighting Sensitive Topics

Now, you may think that demonstrating empathy, attention to detail and subject matter expertise should be a given with any elearning development – even all areas of work.

The reality though is that most online training is designed to impart knowledge that, while important, isn’t centred on the humanity of your learners or end-users of your products and services. Most workplace elearning covers foundational topics, such as health and safety, the business process for staff onboarding, and regulatory compliance.

Some topics have greater potential for human impact – in a positive way or with the potential to cause offence or have negative consequences for your team, your brand or your clients if you make a mistake. For content like this, someone on your team should have the role and the power to say “this is a sensitive topic, and we need to put the additional time and the resource into this to reflect that”.

Examples of such topics may include:

  • Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation
  • Equality and Diversity, and Unconscious Bias
  • Anti Harassment
  • Child Protection

Empathy & Your Style of Presentation

Depending on the nature of the training material, you may need to adapt your elearning style to show a level of empathy insofar is possible.

If your usual graphical style is very colourful or cartoonish, that may need to be toned down or changed completely. Likewise, if your language tends to be jokey or light-hearted, that may need to change to fit the seriousness of the subject matter.

Video content is often used in elearning, but that may not be possible with sensitive training material. You may usually use informal video snippets as part of your content, but that may look cheap and insensitive if the training content is of a serious nature.

Attention to Detail

All elearning content developers will have QA processes designed to prevent and eliminate errors. However, the importance of attention to detail takes on greater significance when there are higher consequences. What might result from any lack of research into the required training or errors that could lead to incorrect advice and failings in the delivery of services to end users?

Errors and perceived poor standards are also likely to show a lack of care about the training content. So while elearning for sensitive topics should naturally go through your usual QA process, it’s important to take additional steps. You can gain input from subject matter experts on completion, as well as during the planning stage to ensure that not only is the information correct, but that the training feels fit for purpose and hits the mark.

Subject Matter Expertise

That input from subject matter experts is the key ingredient in separating elearning for sensitive topics from a typical content development project.

eLearning    is simply the mode of delivery and any important topic is likely to have been covered by traditional, face to face training providers.

Work as closely as possible with industry and subject matter experts at every stage, from knowledge gathering to planning the mode and style of delivery to checking through the end product.

By following these principles, you can ensure that sensitive elearning content will be effective for your learners, protect and enhance your brand, and have the best possible outcomes for all those impacted by the training.

Looking for Help with an eLearning Project?

Here at Day One Technologies, we’ve been creating elearning for over 20 years, including projects dealing with difficult subject matter.

You can learn more about our work at www.dayonetech.com or feel free to contact us for an informal chat about your training needs.

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