‘Theory in Practice’ – an Experiential model for Procurement E-learning: Part 2

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management-leadership-boxA Step change in Procurement E-learning Training:

A three part guide for procurement professionals and training mangers to assess how E-learning can be an effective part of their professional development
Here in part 2 we discuss how our model produces content that is both engaging and facilitates immediate understanding.

  1. Producing a Procurement Soap Opera

The course design hinges on animated movie episodes, presented in the style of a TV ‘soap’.

Features that are incorporated into the design of each episode include:

Animated Movie in a Comic Strip Style

Animated Movie in a Comic Strip Style

  • Clear learning goals and objectives
  • Real life ‘scenarios’ learners will recognize and relate to
  • Cognitive load principles to avoid short term memory overload which prevents learning
  • Sophisticated dialogue and compelling storyline
  • interactivity, via quizzes, knowledge testing and assessments

The instructional design is therefore aimed to facilitate a range of learner benefits that include:

1.1   Clear learning goals and objectives

Learnin the Kraljic Matrix

Learning to apply the Kraljic Matrix

Learning goals are clearly defined at the onset together with the target audience for the course. These are then placed within a specific scenario and presented perfectly to demonstrate procurement best practice. Because it is E-learning one benefit is that it can then be utilized to expose learners to the most efficient methods of learning. We learn by doing. So one of our goals is to embed various activities and practice screens that will help to reinforce the learning material, accelerate and solidify the mastery of course goals and to track and qualify the learner’s progress.

1.2   Cognitive Load Principles

Cognitive load theory, one of the most scientific researched theories of learning and the brain; says that teaching will be far more efficient if it is conducted in the way the brain works. The working memory is a barrier to learning; information presented is processed and only upon clear understanding, will it flow to the long-term memory. Therefore, information needs to be presented in a simple manner, so as to limit the load on the short term memory.Our courses therefore apply cognitive load principles to support the learning process and facilitate immediate understanding:

  • New information arrives – via your ears (audio channel) and/or eyes (visual channel) – and is then presented to our brain. There it is first processed by our working (short-term) memory before being stored in our long-term memory in the form of schema’s or pictures. This is the basic learning process.
  • Unlike the working memory, which is momentary, long term memory provides permanent storage and unlimited capacity. The key to learning is therefore, storing the information in your long term memory. This is when learning occurs.

The benefits of applying cognitive lead principles into our course design are that we facilitate immediate understanding. This is unique in procurement training.

1.3   TechnologyFlash/HTML5 is our development tool of choice.

It is seamless and streamlined. It can pass information straight from the Flash interface directly to our database or the most advanced SCORM learning management system. In stark contrast the majority of suppliers use MS Word and Power Point which have no capability to pass information back to an LMS or SCORM values at this time. Despite this we estimate that more than 90% of all procurement E-learning content uses these limited and static software tools for E-learning development.

Most suppliers employ Articulate, Lectora, and or Captivate to create a simple online electronic page turner, what a missed opportunity. No wonder so many E-learning projects are considered a bore and fail a few days after the launch.These development approaches rely on several different tools to achieve the same results Flash/HTML5 can do all by itself.

For comprehensive E-learning instructional design, production development and team collaboration, our approach produces superior results.

1.4 Animated Visuals

Our animated movie style serves to engage learners in a vivid learning experience. Yet we believe that because it uses a ‘soap opera’ approach to depict characters and scenarios, it also permits the necessary distance for observation, analysis and assessment – in essence it allows the learner to ‘eavesdrop’ to be a‘fly on the wall’ observing positive behavioral responses to difficult situations. The benefits of this animated approach rather than video have been borne out by research:

Learning to apply 'brainstorming' to develop strategy

Learning to apply ‘brainstorming’ to develop strategy


  • Animation allows a wide range of contexts and characters, and yet still produces quality movies.
  • People enjoy animations—the simplicity of the graphics lets people use their imaginations in relating to the characters.
  • The graphics do not intrude on the material being studied as much as videos.

1.5   Carefully Scripted Audio Scripts are carefully developed to translate the learning goals into real life scenarios to which buyers will relate.

It combines with the visuals seamlessly to support the objective of immediate understanding.   The scripting is intended to help learners to evaluate critically the scenario being played out, looking at the contexts in which the characters are placed—in order to understand the procurement landscape.

1.6   Interactive & Engaging

Intractive & engaging Content

Intractive & engaging Content

As learners engage via the movie in the interplay of different factors associated with procurement, they are invited to interact with the subject matter.  There are opportunities for the learner to analyze and assess the issues raised in each scenario, in order to develop capabilities in working with, and managing procurement. An intuitive interface is provided and the narrative-based movie with its visual, audio and graphic clues is designed to be easy to use and accessible to different types of learner; the movie engages the learner in a real life experience. Crucially, the movie format provides a way of communicating without telling, placing the onus on the student to learn and draw conclusions.

This is experiential based learning that is built upon the principles of storytelling, a medium through which we can communicate meaningfully with each other. Participants are encouraged to relate the story to their own experiences and to work with these, translating learning into action.

There is specific advice on how to use and enhance their newly acquired knowledge in actual situations; they are likely to face at some time in their day jobs. The individual scenarios help learners to broaden the concepts out to a wider stakeholder community.

In the third and final part we will discuss learning outcomes and draw conclusions on the requirements for implementing effective E-learning.

Part 3