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Jan 2015

Why no one cares about your lousy elearning

Blog posts

Cammy Bean

Cammy Bean

Senior Solutions Consultant at Kineo US

It's 2015. By now, almost everyone reading this post has taken some form of self-paced online learning, aka 'elearning,' either by choice or under duress. Perhaps you got a speeding ticket and had the option of taking online learning to reduce the $300 ticket. Maybe you've accessed a software tool's online tutorials to get up to speed. Or maybe your company has compliance requirements that make you take a few hours of required elearning every quarter. 

Whatever the case, you've probably experienced some lousy elearning along the way. But the truth is that most elearning out there gives the rest of elearning a bad name. What do most of these elearning programs get wrong, and what are they really telling their learners? 

  1. They're boring: Learners think, "Do these people really value my time so little that they're going to make me suffer through this boring drivel? 
  2. The content is irrelevant and not what you need: Learners think, "I could do better just Googling what I need to know." 
  3. It's too long. 50 pages of slideware with narration that you have to listen to before advancing: Learners think, "Sounds like this is a great time to be cleaning out my inbox while I suffer through these slides."
  4. It's too much information and not enough hands-on activity: Learners think, "Why can't I just read a PDF with all this info?"
  5. It doesn't reflect your company's values or brand: Learners think, "We don't talk like this to each other." 

OK, you get the idea. There are more things that many elearning programs get wrong, but we'd rather not bore you with another boring list about why bad elearning is so boring. 

When done well, elearning can effectively communicate important ideas and concepts, teach new skills and processes, and even change behaviors and attitudes. You can use elearning as part of an effective and exciting onboarding program, an integral part of a new software rollout, or a key component in a leadership training program. 

We've got lots of tips for better eLearning. Here are three of our favorites: 

Put stories at the heart of your learning

Part of what makes us human is our biologically-primed response to stories. Make your elearning more human by wrapping what could be boring content around relevant case studies and anecdotes that will pique your audience's emotional curiosity, pull them into the tale, and, in the long run, make the content more memorable. 

Focus on what matters

Make sure the content you include is relevant to the learning objectives you've established at the outset. Anything extra can be a resource or attachment, but spare people the need to spend 15 minutes exploring an interactive timeline of the history of the sales team's structure when you're teaching a new sales process. 

Make the interaction count

Nobody likes that 5,000-question jeopardy board game. Make sure your elearning design includes exercises and activities that are meaningful and provide relevant practice opportunities that will ensure effective knowledge transfer back to the job. 

As a consumer of elearning, what has been your experience? When you've taken elearning, what has stood out to you as an exemplary experience? And how do YOU make sure that people care about the elearning that you design? Share with us in the comments section below.

Cammy Bean

Cammy Bean

Senior Solutions Consultant at Kineo US

Cammy has been collaborating with organizations to design online learning programs since 1996. An active speaker and blogger, Cammy gets fired up about instructional design, avoiding the trap of clicky-clicky bling-bling, and ways to use technology to create real behavior change.

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