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 clearly define your business goals and success metrics
It’s not enough to just blindly set up an eLearning program and hope it succeeds. Instead, you and your entire leadership team need to clearly outline the business goals you want to accomplish through the program. 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 set up to achieve desired results.
This is the best way to ensure your program gets off on the right foot and is aiming at clear, attainable goals. For further ideas, follow the guide below to design an eLearning program that will achieve your business goals.
2) You think you can transfer training content online, add interactivity, 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.
- The DIY Guide to Converting Existing Content into an eLearning Course
- Best Practices to Convert Instructor-Led Training to eLearning
- 3 Big Don’ts When Converting Instructor-Led Training to eLearning
2) You haven't set up a successful 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 important 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?
3) You don't bother to understand your employees' training needs well enough
You could be using technology in the right ways, featuring killer and aesthetically pleasing courses, and even having the support of your organization.
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 this guide to positively influence an eLearning course reputation.
4) You assume that once the course is launched, it's over
Once the course is launched, the work is done, right? Wrong!
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 is more likely than not to end in poor student performance and a bad reputation for your organization.
Once the course is launched, though, you should also carefully monitor student performance — tracking against those business goals you established — and developing ways to continue growing your program.
Most courses last about a half-hour, and it’s unlikely that even your most hard-working employees will be watching it multiple times a week — at work, home, or out on the go. That’s why you can’t rely on event-based training. Over time, without constant repetition and reinforcement, the effects of the training program will fade.
Instead, come up with a plan on how to continually expand and enhance your eLearning program to meet the needs of both your employees and your organization.
Not all eLearning programs need to fail. Take the time to assess your program and where it’s falling short — so that you can begin today and create successful ones.