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Our blog provides the best practices, tips, and inspiration for corporate training, instructional design, eLearning and mLearning.

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    5 Reasons Why Your eLearning Programs Aren’t Working

    Perhaps you’ve been here: Amidst pressure from colleagues or employees, or after reading an online article about training trends, you took the plunge. You started an eLearning program at your organization — and then watched with dismay as it fell short of your goals.

    What went wrong? Chances are your program fell into at least a few of these five common mistakes:

    1) You Didn't Define Your Business Goals and Success Metrics

    It’s not enough to just blindly create an eLearning course and hope it succeeds. Instead, you and your entire team need to clearly outline the business goals you want to accomplish before even starting the development stage. Take it a step further and document the results you expect to achieve, in quantifiable metrics if possible (e.g. 80% employee participation within the first 120 days).

    What does success mean for you? Enrolling hundreds of active participants is great if increased enrollment is your key metric — but it may be irrelevant to your sales numbers. Take the time to analyze and document your business objectives, as well as the cost of running the program, and then make sure the course is designed accordingly to achieve desired results.

    For further ideas, follow this guide to design an eLearning program that aligns with your business goals.

    Also read: Why Aren’t Employees Completing Your eLearning Courses?

    2) You Think You Can Transfer Content Online, Add Technology, and Boom... Magic! 

    Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, “I already have a successful classroom training program. I just need to transfer this online, and I’m all set.”

    What may work great in traditional classroom settings may ultimately fail in eLearning environments. A lecturer can stop and talk through a PowerPoint presentation to an in-person audience — but online or on mobile devices, this content will likely lose the audience quickly.

    Instead of simply transferring content, consider how you will instead transform it to best serve the needs of your users.

    Read more: Moving Your Existing Training Content to eLearning - A Step-by-step Guide to Successful Conversions

    3) You Don't Have a Learning Culture

    There are a few ways to make sure your eLearning program has an environment it can flourish in.

    First, it’s crucial to have defined support from your leadership team. An executive sponsor who believes and invests in the program can make a world of difference. All stakeholders who have a role in the program succeeding need to be on board with the business goals and roll-out plan.

    Next, you need to have a communication strategy. It’d be great if you published the course and saw 100% participation a week later — but that simply doesn’t happen. You’ll need to create company awareness and speak to employees and their managers about the value the course will offer. Create a timeline with milestones of when and how you plan to reach out to all relevant facets of your organization.

    Make sure you allow space for employees to be able to learn, practice, and apply their skills, and receive mentorship and support. If you roll out an eLearning program that motivates employees but then don’t back it up by allowing them the opportunity to implement what they learned, then why introduce the course in the first place?

    Also read: The Google Way of Building A Strong Learning Culture

    4) You Don't Understand Your Employee's Training Needs 

    You could be using technology in the right ways, creating killer and aesthetically pleasing courses, and even having the support of your top executives.

    But if you’re serving the wrong content to your employees — and missing what they actually need and want — then your program will fail.

    It’s not uncommon for employees to leave training programs using descriptors like “a waste of time” or “not relevant to my needs.” They’re not commenting necessarily on the quality of your program — but on how it fails to impact them and their career goals.

    Take the time to learn what content your employees’ need, and how to best serve them that content. A successful eLearning program requires employee input and participation. Analyze your employees’ goals, along with the skills you think they still need to achieve in order to be successful — and tailor your program to accomplish those specific objectives.

    Read more: DON'T Skip the Training Needs Analysis! Here's Why

    5) You Think Your Job Ends When The Course Is Launched

    Once the course is launched, the work is done, right? 


    A successful eLearning program begins months before course creation — with careful planning on how to best serve your users and achieve your business objectives.

    Launching a course without this proper planning of the next steps to take AFTER its launch is more likely than not to end in poor student performance and a bad reputation for your organization.

    Once the course is launched you should carefully monitor student performance — tracking against those business goals you established — and continuously optimize the course.

    Must read: Now What? Five Things You Should Do After Launching Your eLearning Course

    Also read: How to Create an eLearning Course in 12 Steps


    Your eLearning programs are meant to thrive! Take the time to assess your existing programs and where they are falling short — then start fixing them, and start seeing results!

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