SHIFT's eLearning Blog

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

All Posts

What We’ve Learned from Creating Over 2,000 E-Learning Courses


Creating an effective eLearning program is no easy task. It takes hard work, commitment, continuous trial and error, and making LOTS of mistakes along the way before you hit the mark.

In this post, we wanted to share some of the lessons we've learned the hard way and give you some valuable pieces of advice, so you don’t make the same mistakes we (or our clients) did. We can only hope that walking you through these lessons-learned can help begin your eLearning design endeavor the right way. 


lessons2.jpg

Here are the top five e-learning lessons we've learned along the way, and hopefully knowing these will save you a lot of time, frustration, and money:

1- “Because I said so” is not a reason for training.

Without addressing your learners’ needs and the objectives of the company your training courses turn into the worst version of every high school class where everyone sat around asking “why are we learning this?” and the only answer is “Because I said so.” Don’t be that class! 

Before ever starting your course design you need first to assess what your learners’ skill gaps are before you can fill them in. This means using your time and money before you start designing. It may seem excessive to spend 5 hours in the analysis phase for developing a 1-hour training course, but you will lose far more time and money if you skip this part,  launch a course and then find out it doesn’t suit anyone’s needs. Make the best use of your budget by putting in the time before you plan. The analysis phase  is key to ensure you teach the right skills to the right audience.

Your learning objectives also need to align with what the company wants to accomplish. Take time to figure out exactly what the problem is and who they want to address it with: an individual, project team or the entire workforce. This process of figuring out objectives should involve L&D and be promoted by those in charge.

As one CLO of a European telecom said, “If L&D is not a strategic partner for the important initiatives of the company, you’re just working reactively with the other businesses. In our company, there is a strong alignment between learning and our overall business strategy. But that’s because of a strong push from the CEO.”

All too often an L&D program is launched without a full investigation into what the objectives are (i.e. quality improvement, increased productivity, cost efficiency, etc.). This results in lost time and money for the company and employees alike because the training simply isn’t useful enough. 

2- Course completions aren’t everything.  

A person can click “next” a few dozen times and retain just enough info to take a quiz and complete a course in record time. If you see completions of a course as the ultimate indicator of effectiveness you and your boss are going to be sadly disappointed if you don’t take other factors into consideration. 

Instead, you have to consider that your learners are getting something out of your courses no matter if they complete them or not. Your focus, instead, needs to be other benchmarks like increased job performance, application of training, overall impact and recommendations by managers and learners. Otherwise, if you just look at completions, you will find yourself constantly trying to tweak something that may not even be broken. 

Also read: Why Course Completion Rates Have Little to To Do With Learning Outcomes

3- Creating an eLearning course is not a one-time thing. 

Sorry to disappoint you, but people don’t learn from a single training session, however, intense it might be. 1- hour long eLearning courses delivered once or twice a year are really only going to result in a lot of wasted time and very little retention of information.  Learning isn’t a one-off event; it has to take place over time, it has to be continuously reinforced and repeated.

Spaced Repetition: Your greatest tool to get students to use what they learn and have it stick is to repeat content multiple times over a certain period. This doesn’t mean having them go over the same course over and over again. It means that after your employees take an eLearning course, give them regular intervals of info where they quickly review what they learned. Also, make sure your learners have access to training modules on-demand, whenever they need to refresh the content. Studies have indeed demonstrated that information is remembered two to three times better if training is spaced in time rather than massed together.

Also read: Learning Is Not a One-Time Event! Promote Continuous Learning

4- Creating an eLearning course is just one-half of the battle. 

You’ve defined learning objectives, you’ve created effective eLearning courses, you’ve tweaked and perfected them. Everything is looking great, except no one is taking your courses. Ever stop to question why that is?

The primary reason is that creating an eLearning course is really only half the job. The other half is actually promoting the course so people are aware it exists.

After all, employees are busy people who are often just trying to get through their workweek as efficiently as possible. They don’t stand around the LMS anxiously awaiting your next training course offering.  You can’t leave the course hidden in a dark corner, or buried somewhere in the murky underworld of your LMS. You, employers, HR and recruiting all need to get on board with promoting these new courses and giving employees easy access and frequent reminders. 

Along with reminders and access, you have to show employees what the value of your course is. This is why a regurgitated form letter every few weeks telling employees “New Training Courses Available, Now!” isn’t enough. Knowing the course available and how to get to them is only part of it.  You have to COMMUNICATE it to your staff with a bit of an ‘elevator pitch’ as to why it’s worth doing.

Read more: Here's How To Promote Your New eLearning Program Internally

5- Your learners are human, never forget that!  

It’s easy to forget the human element when designing an eLearning course because you’re working on a computer usually in order to create something that will also be viewed on a computer, mobile device or tablet. 

To combat this, you can gather some ideas from traditional classrooms and incorporate Q&A’s, discussion forums and social media to encourage learners to interact with instructors and each other.  By using these social tools, you are inspiring empathy and creativity as opposed to passive listening. This allows learners to engage more, retain more and overall get more from you courses. 

But above all: Address the Human, Personal Need.

An important part of any eLearning course is the content, but learners don’t just need to know what they are supposed to learn, they want to understand the practical application of that content. Behind the professional, logical need there is a human need. Perhaps it is important to understand that A+B = C, but what the learner wants to know is how arriving at C will help them do their job better. You must answer their questions, pique their curiosity, address their pain points, because you are talking to a human being even in an online context.

More tips on how to keep eLearning more human in this post from some time ago. 



These are our best e-learning lessons so far. We’ve learned the value of pre-planning and taking our audience’s needs into consideration as we help to inspire you to do the same with your learners. We look forward to bringing you, even more, lessons from our next 2,000 courses!


getting-started-elearning


 

Karla Gutierrez
Karla Gutierrez
Karla is an Inbound Marketer @Aura Interactiva, the developers of SHIFT. ES:Karla is an Inbound Marketer @Aura Interactiva, the developers of SHIFT.

Related Posts

The Key Components of a Learner-Friendly eLearning Course

It's so easy to assume the content is all that matters in an eLearning course. But, how information is presented affects its effectiveness. The design, for instance, influences how students interact with information. Think about one of your existing eLearning course designs: Is it too cluttered? Or is it designed to properly guide learners toward clear goals? 

  • 6 min read
  • Wed, Sep 22, 2021 @ 05:55 PM

How to Turn Your Employees into Lifelong Learners

A fat paycheck? Yes, but not always. The corner office within the next five years? Yes sure, but what about now? 401(k) plan. Health and dental insurance. Paid vacation. Well, these would be nice. What do you think is the single biggest factor that motivates employees to recommend their company as THE place to work for young, ambitious people? According to Bersin by Deloitte’s research with Glassdoor, learning, and career opportunities are accorded the highest priorities by employees. Clearly, employees know that in an ever-changing and volatile workplace, there is only ONE way to make oneself indispensable. Keep growing. Keep learning. Innovate consistently. Employees have not failed to learn from the examples around them. Companies like Yahoo,  BlackBerry, Blockbuster failed to keep up with the times. The result: they continued to lag till the day when they were forced to give up. Innovation is the game-changer. It is true not only for organizations but also for individuals. This is why companies are able to lure valuable employees away from their rivals with the promise of training opportunities. As an HR or training professional, you have to keep your employees interested in working for the company by providing them with ample learning opportunities. They need to improve their skills, increase productivity, and be on top of their game, so your business can out-innovate its rivals, tide over disruptions, and respond to market changes.

  • 13 min read
  • Wed, Sep 15, 2021 @ 04:44 PM

Don't Frustrate Your Learners! 7 Rules for Creating User-Friendly eLearning

What if the secret to life existed but was locked in a box that no one could open? Well, you’d pretty much just have a box, wouldn’t you? And that is also what you have when you design an eLearning course without taking usability into consideration. It matters little how relevant information in a course might be if your audience can’t access that information. While engaging students and making sure content is entirely covered are critical parts of course success, it is just as important to go through and make sure your user interface (UI) ducks are in a row. Taking the time to go through and check for user-friendliness will help ensure that your students don’t lose out just because the course is difficult to navigate. Keep in mind that an eLearning course often isn’t a choice for most people. They are taking this because they have to and will have little patience for guesswork. Make it clear what the user needs to do in order to advance in the course. Learning is difficult enough without the added annoyance of having to hunt for what to click on.