How to Fix These Common eLearning Mistakes
eLearning continues to spread its influence year after year. More organisations are seeing how eLearning increases retention in employee training by 25% to 60% and customer satisfaction by 16% when paired with learning management systems.
With COVID-19 changing how employee training is done, eLearning adoption will continue to accelerate.
However, with all this excitement to upgrade training and urgency to adapt to challenging times, it could lead to a haphazard creation of eLearning courses. Rushing the process will most likely result in making the following mistakes:
1. No Purpose, No Impact Courses
It has become much easier to create courses, thanks to all the advances in technology and understanding of eLearning concepts. While the democratisation of course creation is ultimately good for wider adoption, it can also result in mass production of generic, aimless, filler courses that have no impact.
- Understand your audience — Find out what goals and expectations your target audience has. Courses shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all, and the one you’re creating has to satisfy the specific needs of your target audience.
- List concrete objectives and align them with your organisation’s — Having a clear objective that has practical application gives your course an achievable purpose. Whether it’s teaching learners how to use a tool or implement a process, it should always go back to how it can help accomplish your organisation’s goals.
- Use LMS data and analytics to pinpoint ROI measurement — You need facts and figures to truly know if a course is effective. Make full use of your learning management system’s data tracking and analytics features to determine the value of your courses and if you need to tweak them.
2. Courses Are Text-Heavy
There’s a temptation to simply transfer information from textbooks and slideshows to your eLearning course. However, courses that are reliant on text that has been merely lifted from other materials can be considered boring and certainly feel redundant.
- Employ graphic design principles — Vary your presentation of text by taking advantage of white space and using contrasting colours to highlight important points.
- Include multimedia — Visual elements such as diagrams to explain complex concepts and videos to summarise multiple associated topics grab the attention of learners and stimulate their minds.
3. Visual Overload
It is just as problematic to go overboard with visuals as it is to rely too much on text. Instead of keeping learners’ attention, the abundance of images becomes distracting. Navigating a course also becomes much harder with a messy layout.
- Question the purpose of each visual element — Don’t include an image just because it looks good. Ask yourself what purpose does it serve. If it doesn’t help learners in any way, cut it.
- Keep a consistent style — Graphics that clash in style make your course look unprofessional and only add to the visual clutter.
4. No Interactivity
Courses that only push information on to learners are not engaging. They find it tiring to take in lessons without any input. Such courses also fail to provide learners practical application opportunities, resulting in lower information retention.
- Integrate interactive elements — Give your learners an active role in the learning process. By integrating gamification and other rich media into your courses, learners are more likely to engage with the material and remember the lessons. Allow them to make mistakes and learn from the experience.
- Consider blended learning — This approach combines online learning with traditional classroom learning. You can consider this as a method of teaching concepts in a seminar, classroom, or workshop where interactivity in the eLearning isn’t effective.
5. Forced Linearity
It might sound logical to enforce a strict path to progression when teaching something new. You want to ensure learners understand every single concept in a course. However, this doesn’t take into account how learners differ in their preferred learning style. Experienced learners might lose interest if they are forced to go through each section of your course in a linear fashion.
- Allow learners to jump to different sections of a module — Giving learners this option respects their intelligence. You avoid the situation where they mindlessly hit the “next” button and have no patience for learning by the time they do get to their desired part. You can also apply the concept of microlearning here, as bite-sized content is much easier to digest.
- Provide reminders that certain lessons require some level of knowledge — This is to ensure less advanced learners don’t stumble into sections that require more foundational elements to be learned first.
6. Overly Lengthy Courses
While it’s not a bad idea to make your course comprehensive, trying to adhere to this approach can be an issue when a course goes on for too long. Learners who are just starting out can feel daunted when they find out a single course will take them hours to finish. This is especially true for this generation of young adults who experience an increase in time constraints and have more competition for their time.
- Implement microlearning — Instead of cramming multiple lessons into single courses and sessions, segment them further into more digestible chunks that learners can finish in minutes and take breaks in between. Each of these micro lessons focus on solving one specific problem at a time.
7. Outdated Material
The needs of learners continue to change, which means organisations that use outdated eLearning materials are making a big mistake. Learners can either find such courses irrelevant because the lessons don’t apply to them, or boring because the presentation is archaic.
It can also be the case where the technology needs updating. Flash, for instance, was so commonly used for eLearning content. By the end of 2020, however, it will be phased out which means browsers will not support it anymore. Organisations should upgrade these Flash-based courses before that time.
- Update the information — The solution can be as simple as adding new details, using modern-day examples, and removing obsolete data.
- Modernise the aesthetic — If the style looks decades-old, it’s time for an aesthetic refresh that connects better with the current generation.
- Repurpose old content — You don’t have to throw away courses that actually still provide value. Take the relevant information and repackage it in a much more engaging format.
8. Technical Difficulties
Organisations that are just starting to create their own eLearning courses can easily run into a host of technical difficulties. Their courses might not be formatted properly for mobile devices, learners at home might have unreliable internet connections, or they may not be tech-savvy to solve the issue themselves.
- Create courses with different setups in mind — eLearning is supposed to be convenient since it can be done virtually anywhere. Take into account how learners are going to access your courses from the start, whether it’s at a home office or on the go. Keep your courses lean so they aren’t taxing on device memory and bandwidth. You can also develop training for the devices your target audience is likely to utilise.
- Provide resources and technical support — Give your learners a way to contact a dedicated support team, and be ready to answer questions on how to use your courses and LMS. Create an easily accessible FAQ or troubleshooting guide for the most common issues.
9. Learners Are Unaware of Courses
While it is important that you devote as much time and resources as possible into creating the best courses, it doesn’t guarantee that your courses will actually be taken in the first place. Whether your learners are busy employees trying to meet quotas and deadlines or students juggling studies and projects, they might not even be aware your courses exist.
- Launch a marketing campaign — Treat your eLearning courses as a product you need to sell. Email outreach is a simple but effective way to spread awareness. Invite learners to presentations to show how the courses can benefit them.
- Talk to management — Convincing department heads and team leaders can be enough to get the rest of your organisation to try your courses. Management is generally in favor of having more skilled and more productive workers.
10. Learners Are Isolated
The lack of human contact with teachers and fellow learners has already been considered an issue, and it can be exacerbated in the “new normal” where learners no longer have the option of in-person training sessions.
- Set up online communication channels — Forums, social media channels, and group chats are potential avenues for learners to discuss courses.
- Have live online training sessions — Webinars and virtual classrooms can provide dynamic interactions for more engaging educational experiences.
Learning from eLearning Mistakes
Plenty of organisations have made mistakes trying to harness the power of eLearning. As effective as it is, eLearning is not a silver bullet that can easily solve skill and knowledge gaps without a sound implementation strategy.
The author - Lloyd Smith
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