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4 Reasons That Your eLearning Course Isn’t Working, But Still Can

Isn’t eLearning supposed to be a hit? If this is true, why isn’t your eLearning course working? The answer to this question might be simpler than you think. Regardless of your size or industry, there are a few common problems that continuously seem to trip up eLearning professionals.


You may be proud of your course design and the content you added to the course. You created a course that was informative, attractive, and accessible from any device. So, why isn’t it working? Much like a recipe, one (or a few) sour ingredients can be canceling out the sweet. So, let’s scroll down and go through some of the elements that may be overpowering your efforts to inform your employees and get new (and positive!) results.

Here are four things that might make a difference if applied:

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1) Learning Is a Two-way Street

Nowadays, it almost feels like people are producing two kinds of content. It’s polarized between heavy information products and fluff. Both are incredibly disappointing, and as time passes, people are getting better at identifying when to “check out.” Here is a question for you:

When you structured and designed the course, did you do this from a “providing” perspective or a “receiving/learning” one?

The answer to this is crucial as it may be the reason that your learner may be disconnected entirely from the training. Which would explain not applying what they’ve learned, or worse, not even finishing the course. If they don’t see the value in it, they will not take the journey with you.

Here are some thing you can do: 

  • Put yourself literally in the learner's shoes. Did you take the course? Read this article: Would You Take Your Own Course?
  • Watch someone take the course. How many minutes in did they start slouching and looking bored?
  • Lastly, did you ever explain why it’s beneficial that they learn this task, procedure, or make this change? 

Considering the questions above will turn the tables as it will require that you think about how well and engaging your course is to consume.

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

2) It’s (probably) Not the Content...

We're pretty sure your eLearning courses are loaded with high-quality content, but then again, so are a lot of books and movies that people consider boring. The ability to digest something speaks to the quality of it as well. No matter how informative it is, the content won’t be considered good if no one can get through it. So, it’s probably not what you are providing, but the way that you are sharing it.

So, assuming you have all the right stuff on there, you might be packaging it all wrong. What do I mean? Some examples:

  • Is the content easy to find? Make it easy to search! Is everything tagged and organized in a logical and efficient way? Everyone loves getting inside a course and finding just what they were looking for!
  • Speak of achievements, start with the (known) simpler explanations or steps. Then, move on to the more (unknown) complicated stuff. Stick to Nintendo’s approach; we all want to work our way up the difficulty ladder.
  • When introducing new words, tasks, or trying to influence a behavioral change, explain what the benefits are. Knowing what you are doing and why affects an individual's involvement and determination.
  • Are slides too crowded? As human beings, we are naturally drawn to visually organized layouts. Must read: Avoid Learner Overload: Five Rules for eLearning Course Design

3) Is The Content Applicable NOW?

If you remember what we discussed earlier, your employees are continuously bombarded with information. You want to make sure that they won’t file this under “Learn It Later.”

Sometimes you won’t be the person to communicate how vital something will be, so exposing them to community chats or forums will allow them to connect with people who might help them see training as an opportunity to advance.

For instance, think about:

  • How relevant is this course to their everyday duties?  Your learners should never feel like they are wasting their time. Keep things relevant and as to the point as possible, which will make them want to engage and stay engaged. Read more in this article: How to Design an eLearning Course that Resonates with Your Learners
  • Like we mentioned before, what is going to come of this? How soon? Your learners have certain expectations from your course. You have to fulfill these expectations.  Period.
  • You created this program with your outcome in mind. But let’s switch this around--what's in it for them? Share that.
  • Are you promising them a transformation? Giving an example of what their life could be different before and after your course helps you frame the relevancy of why your course is valuable. This gives them a clear goal and idea of what to expect, a point in the distance to focus on.

Take note: Do you know who are you designing your course for? Answering this question will give you much greater insight into how you should design your course. Giving your audience what they need and want gives your course value. It won’t matter how clearly the information is presented or how nice the course looks if the information isn’t geared towards the right audience.

4) No Variety = No Engagement

Are you stuck in a rut without an inkling of a clue of what you can do? You’ve gone over your text-based course over and over again looking for red flags, and there’s nothing! It’s in order, it’s relevant, and it’s all applicable. What else can there be?!

Well, solely basing your course on basic text format can be the cause of poor course performance!

Consider the following questions when evaluating your course:

  • What is the proportion of text vs. images?
  • Look away from the screen for a moment. Now look back. Is the screen too text-heavy?
  • How often are you using other media like videos/podcasts/ infographics to alternate the delivery of content? 
  • Go through this design checklist too. 9-Point Checklist for the Perfect eLearning Course Design

If you’ve gone through your course and reached the conclusion that your learning material is text-heavy, then you are going to need to make some changes to your design and start repurposing some of the information into different formats. You need a shift from text-heavy courses to engaging/interactive ones!

Fortunately, eLearning offers a rich variety of options that’ll help you connect with your employees. You can pair different types of media to create a balanced mix of your audience’s learning preferences.

Here are some quick tips of things you can try:

  • Consider layering the information. While the initial point/s can be visible at first glance, what follows can be provided via “More Information” buttons option, revealing more text. Allowing your student to pull information will declutter the page and keep disruptive or overwhelming at bay.
  • Use hot spot screens. Hotspots link information to particular areas on an image. The student scrolls over an image to find small balloons that will pop-up with more information if the student chooses to click on it. Much like the point above, this helps avoid cluttering on the page while making necessary information intuitively discoverable. SHIFT offers amazing options for creating Hot Spot screens easily. Check it out in this free trial of the authoring tool.
  • Create a video; you can present the more “boring” content in a fun way using animation or storytelling. Also, video is an excellent way to quickly demonstrate the big picture of how a process will work.
  • Use scenarios and characters to illustrate examples. Sometimes people are so intimidated by learning that they can’t visualize what’s being explained. Again, this will take any idea a step further helping people address doubts or confusion.

Read more: 10 Types of Visual Content You Should Use to Increase Learner Engagement


Creating an effective eLearning program that your audience loves isn’t rocket science. If done correctly, e-learning can produce significant business results and can align with employees’ schedules instead of against them. 

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