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7  Mistakes To Avoid When Creating Your First eLearning Course

Every day more companies are opting to convert their classroom material to digital courses. Fitting for modern learner needs, eLearning allows a continued education option for those who want to train anywhere, anytime or master a subject at their own pace. Also, by going digital, companies cut down training costs as the recurring instructor fee and logistical costs are shelved off.

If you are one of these companies eager to convert your classroom training to eLearning, you must first understand what mistakes to avoid early on. Certainly avoiding them alone won’t be enough to guarantee great results from day one. However, they will guide you in establishing a strong foundation.


Fast-track your ability to create engaging eLearning courses by avoiding these simple, but commonly overlooked mistakes.

Mistake #1: Not Planning The Flow & Depth of Content

If you don’t plan the path of a course, students will be able to tell. If a student is confused by how content is transitioning from one unit to another not only have they lost interest, but they’ll lose trust in the learning journey that you’ve set out for them.

Not planning content can also place the deep, complex subjects before their time. Having students review topics that they are not ready for while undoubtedly create frustration. Carefully taking students from basic to more complex subjects is not so much an art as it is an exercise. Do the work that goes behind planning and makes sure that you’re transitioning between points purposefully and giving them all that they will need to follow.

The last point to consider about your eLearning content is to make sure that it’s digestible. The rule of thumb is to break up content into 20 to 30 minutes units (the most!). Making it easy to continue if they have a little time or ending there if they don’t.

#eLearningTip: Design Last, Storyboard First 

Plan your course with this free storyboard template

Mistake #2: Too Much of Anything is Bad

After writer’s block, many ideas usually follow. This is good, but it’s imperative that you slice through the crowd. Make sure to get it all down and then select the most relevant text and the most value-adding images and features to full circle your course.

Too much text is never a good thing. People get bored and get lost in eloquent explanations. Keep it simple! It’s said that most learners cover more content and retain more information via online learning methods, but this will be dependent on how much information you are actually providing.

Avoid adding unnecessary information all over the screen. Again, keep it focused and clean. Make sure to break up content into digestible bits by using bullets or paragraphs. A great trick is to use additional features like audio, videos, or links to further drive points.

That said---Too much "bling-bling" technology is not a good thing either. Yes, there are features that you can use to enhance understanding and fun. Yes, people like interactivity, but technology gets overwhelming fast. Also, you don’t want the learner to feel that in an effort to be “fun” or “engaging” you’re delaying the completion of the course. 

Read more de-cluttering tips here: How To Avoid Designing Cluttered eLearning Screens

Mistake #3: Ignoring Responsive Design

In a perfect world, all devices and their screens are alike. But they aren’t. All devices are different and your learners use two to three different devices a day.  

Nowadays, mobile phones are extremely useful to catch up with all types of errands, tasks, or duties when we have a little extra time. If you provide access to your training material via mobile, you will allow them to be connected when they are on the go. Responsive tools such as SHIFT will smartly adapt the course that you created to any mobile device your students have. Due to mobile usage, it’s really not something you--or anyone--can afford to overlook.

Read more: Why Responsive eLearning is Essential to Meet Modern Learner Needs

Mistake #4: Avoiding Negative Emotions 

Learning is an emotional adventure. More often than not, one of the most useful things you can do is simply avoiding negative emotions in the learning space.

Here are few factors that you need to consider:

Avoid irrelevant content: If you know your audience, then you know what they are looking for. If they are eager to tackle a real-life situation with the information that you’ve given them it won’t take long for them to figure out if you’ve included a great deal of useless information. Don’t lose the interest of a student because you were careless about what to include. Prepare your audience on the subject at hand.

Read more: Stop Blah, Blah eLearning! 5 Rules for Creating Relevant and Fluff-free Courses

Ban Trivial Images: In an eagerness to complement the text, creators of eLearning courses have often used low quality and/or irrelevant images. This can create confusion or distrust with the learner as they begin to question it’s connection to the subject.

Ditch Confusing Navigation: If it’s hard to move around the course, your learners will experience a great deal of frustration going from one lesson to another and measuring progress. Allowing this issue to exist is pointless as it requires a little attention and purpose to get it done right.

Mistake #5: Same Old, Same Old 

Boredom, most of the time, is produced by stasis. If we always know what’s coming, we stop paying attention. So you need to keep things moving to encourage learning. There's no need to be too obvious about it; subtle changes of font can be more effective than switching the whole color scheme. The goal isn't necessarily to be consciously noticed, but rather to focus the brain's natural priorities.

A balanced variety is essential to keep learners interested. Balancing out the use of text, visuals, and interactive elements come together to create a delightful experience. Everyone likes to learn differently. Variety is a vital strategy to consider when creating your eLearning course. Everyone grasps information a different way and making sure there is something for everyone is a best practice.

Mistake #6: Dots Your I’s and Cross Your T’s

A lot can be lost regarding quality when small details are missed. Implementing a Quality Assurance checklist is something many skip over in an effort to move forward with the completion of a project. Don’t do this! Check everything before launching the course officially to your audience. Make sure the links work. Evaluate what’s useful. 

Mistake #7: You don’t bother to understand your employees’ training needs  

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.

Here's A Template to Carry Out an eLearning Audience Analysis


Make sure that the next time you create an eLearning course you avoid these mistakes!

What are the techniques you use to create effective eLearning courses? Let us know in the comments section below.



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The Basics of Motivational eLearning Design

When we think of the word, motivation, instantly two things come to mind. First, when we are young, many outside things motivate us, a desire to do something, the reality of punishment from our parents, positive and negative reinforcement of what we are doing, etc. All of these things help to motivate children, and in some cases, it has a positive effect, and in other cases, it does not. The more proactive the motivation, the more positive the response to that motivation, the more reactionary the motivation, the more negative the response. The second picture that comes to mind is a learned reaction to something. Like Pavlov and his dogs, which would salivate when he rang the bell, motivation can be at times subconscious. However, there are much more things that drive the motivation of human beings, and in the arena of learning, there are some critical pieces to the puzzle that have to be developed so that learners feel the value of what they are learning and how it will benefit them. The rewards of their success must be considered from a variety of sources and satisfy them on a variety of levels, and as instructional designers of e-learning programs, we must not only understand these factors but be skilled in utilizing them in the courses that we design.