We spend a lot of time thinking about elearning content – it’s not just our job, it’s a passion for us. However, not everyone eats and sleeps elearning and sometimes it shows. As it’s the season of chills and horrors, we thought that we would share some Halloween elearning howlers with you and how to avoid them. Please do not read on if you are of a sensitive disposition…
- Creeping it real
Scope creep can quickly kill a piece of elearning and, at best, overwhelm learners or at worst, confuse and disengage them. It is important to keep a tight rein on learning objectives to ensure that they are focused not just on business outcomes, but more importantly on what learners can realistically assimilate and apply to their role. Cramming in extra information (interesting or otherwise) makes it impossible for learners to recognize what they really need to take from the activity resulting in cognitive overload. Keep the learner at the centre of everything you do and make 'Must have / Nice to have / Don't need' your mantra when planning content.
- Enter the house of horrors
People are not psychic - simply creating content, no matter how engaging it is, is not enough if there is no signposting and your learners cannot find their way around. You need to make it clear what they need to do and why right from the outset. Too many LMS’ effectively slam the door in learners’ faces by being unwieldy and intimidating when you first enter them. Think about what your learners will want to know and make it easy to get started. That way, they will stay and learn.
- Is there anybody out there?
Not first getting to know your learners before creating content is a recipe for disaster. Sure, you will know their job role and a few other generic pieces of information about them but that really is not enough to create effective learning content. Any learning materials, regardless of how they are delivered, will only be effective if they engage your audience and are clearly relevant to their world. Too many people make assumptions about their learners without scratching below the surface and the quality of the resulting elearning reflects that. You need to really get under the skin of your learners to truly understand what makes them tick – once you do that, you will be able to deliver effective outcomes.
- A living death
One surefire way to turn off your learners is to simply throw lots of dry text-heavy information at them with no thought about how to engage them. Nobody wants to be beaten over the head by PowerPoint - one of the great strengths of elearning is the many creative ways you can involve learners and make them feel like active participants in the learning. Incorporating elements like video, games, real-life stories helps to engage and appeal to all learning styles.
- Mumbo jumbo
Want to disengage your learners before you’ve even begun? Many content creators make the mistake of talking purely in corporate-speak or jargon. We all want to be treated like human beings, not corporate drones. Yes, there will inevitably be some essential phrases and words that are specific to your organization and industry and it is important to use those where relevant but beyond that, keeping the language relatable, personal and fun will get better results with your learners than impenetrable jargon.
- Make it booooo-tiful
Ignore branding at your peril. It is not just about making something look pretty – using your logo, corporate colours, fonts etc. in all your elearning instantly tells your learners that this is something valuable that you have invested in and they will respect the content accordingly. Clip art, stock images and free templates do not say the same thing. Involve your Brand team at the start of the project to avoid any costly reworking of content at the end of the project once you have spent the budget.
- Do not enter
Do you think that accessibility isn’t something you need to worry about because there is no demand for it in your organization - ignoring it saves you some costs, right? Wrong – that situation could change tomorrow due to a new recruitment or a change in circumstances for one of your employees. Retrofitting accessibility into any course, let alone a highly-interactive one, will be very expensive. It is far better to include it as a given in everything that you do from the outset.
- Hide and shriek
Not recognising that your learners are individuals is one spooky mistake you’ll live to regret – one size most definitely does not fit all when it comes to learning. Whilst the outcomes that you want to achieve might be common to all learners, each individual will be starting from different points, will naturally learn in different ways and at different speeds. Let your learners choose their pathway through your learning content based on their needs at the time.
- Give them pumpkin to talk about
In the dim and distant past, elearning was about an individual sat at and interacting with their computer. But we are not machines and that approach misses a key element that, as social animals, we relish - learning from our peers. Fortunately, the technology has moved on and there is much that elearning can now do to encourage just that – ask your learners to upload content for peer review; create online communities where they can talk to each other, collaborate and find that peer support they crave.
- Witchful thinking
Don’t treat your elearning as one-off event. Telling people something once or ending a course abruptly with no suggestion about what to do next will not change anyone’s behavior. You need to create a learning campaign that spaces the learning over a period of time and multiple channels. And don’t forget to tell people about it – afterall, if a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
And a bonus Halloween horror just for this year:
- Death of Flash
Biggest Halloween horror for 2019? Creating (or even just using) new elearning that is either entirely Flash-based or uses Flash in some way with no HTML5 alternative. The clock is ticking for all that Flash content…
If you have been affected by any of this then please get in touch, we are here to help!
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