eLearning may seem like the course delivery solution of the moment. Students love it because of the flexibility it offers while organizations like that it is cost-effective, customizable, and scalable. However, many companies try it and fail. Why? Often, it’s because they did not do enough audience or need analysis before they deployed the training. It may also be because they weren’t sure of their organizational goals or they never spoke to workers before they required them to undergo training. If you are considering launching your first (or next) eLearning course, there are some things you need to do if you hope to succeed.
1) You Must Put Learners First
Your eLearning program must be developed with the audience in mind. While content is valuable, you need to make sure your first grab learners attention, and then keep them engaged until completion. If they are not, learning is unlikely to take place.
Think about what your course participants will be bringing to the training. Are they technologically savvy? Do they have lots of experience in their current role? Are they performing well? The answers to these questions should inform your course offering. You must also consider that learners like opportunities to interact with each other so such elements should be built-in.
In addition, think about how your learners interact with technology on a daily basis. They receive targeted ads as they browse the web. YouTube plays videos based on their watch history and Netflix emails them with suggestions about shows they may like. They have come to expect a personalized user experience. Anything less will leave them feeling dissatisfied. Make sure your course materials are relevant to each learner.
2) You Need to Engage Managers & Leaders
Senior leaders in an organization have two key roles to play in ensuring eLearning programs are successful:
In the first instance, they need to be clear about what they want the course to achieve. The program should have a clear goal such as improving customer service, carrying out a task more efficiently or making stronger sales pitches. Senior management needs to work hand-in-hand with the learning and development team to determine how the training will make the organization better. Without proper planning, organizations are only wasting money on eLearning.
Senior leaders also need to vocally and visibly show their support for the training program. This starts with the L&D team showing them the value of the course and linking it to established business objectives. L&D teams need to show that the investment can result in more effective and efficient employees. Leaders should also let employees know that the program has their backing. If there are any face-to-face sessions, they should make an appearance. More employees will be inclined to participate if they know that people at all levels of the organization are supportive of the eLearning program.
Read more: Getting Your Company Prepared for eLearning
3) Learner Engagement Should Be Your Top Priority
People are more likely to learn when they are engaged. You want your learners to be invested in the course and committed to doing their best.
Some people confuse interaction with engagement, but they are not the same thing. Learners may be going through the course quickly, watching the videos and taking the assessments but this doesn’t mean they are learning or that they see value in the content. They may only want to get to the part of the course they are really interested in or even get to the end so they can get the course over with. As noted earlier, if course participants aren’t learning, the training is a waste of time and money.
Read more: Create Better eLearning Courses: 8 Techniques to Engage Your Audience
You can boost learner engagement by:
· Encouraging learners to set goals about what they want to accomplish by taking the course
· Establishing clear learning outcomes tied to participants’ roles in the organization
· Taking learners competencies and interests into consideration
Essentially, you need learners to care about the course. A good idea is to use aspects of gamification like competition and incentives to keep things interesting. Recognize participants’ achievements and recognize them on social media or with a LinkedIn Badge. When learners have something to look forward to, they will enjoy the course so much that they may not even realize they’re learning.
4) You Need to Make the Course Available on Multiple Devices
Many employees find it difficult to make time for learning since they already have heavy workloads. This is borne out in a study by LinkedIn which found this was a top challenge for workforce development teams.
If you want employees to be able to take the course whenever it’s convenient for them, you need to make it available on-demand and on mobile devices. That way, they can go through content when things slow down during the day or as they wait for a meeting to start.
People consume a big part of their content on smartphones and tablets today, and your role as a modern eLearning professional is to meet them where they are. Even if your learners are older, don’t assume they want to have to sit in front of their computer to participate in the course. You should also make the course available offline. Learners want to access their learning even when they don’t have an Internet connection.
Read more: The New Business Mantra: 'Always Learning'
To go even further, consider allowing learners to choose when they complete each lesson and the order in which they do so. Some courses are structured in such a way that you can’t do Lesson 3 unless you’ve completed Lesson 2. Unless it is absolutely important that lessons are completed in order, remove this restriction. Learners can use their limited time on the lesson which they really want to do. If they feel they need to go back to the previous module, they can do so.
5) You Need to Make Your Course Simple
Back in the day eLearning was about throwing in as many elements as you could. The more "interactivity", the more graphics and "bling-bling", the better.
Today, learners want simpler interfaces and shorter, more manageable courses.
If you’ve been in the eLearning business for a long time, you may need to revisit some of your courses and modernize them. Some modules may need to be presented in a way which is suitable for modern learners. Consider simplifying the layout and making modules shorter.
For content with is in a slide format, take a hard look at how much information is on each slide. Don’t worry as much about the number of slides that are in a particular module! If the course is engaging and useful, and the slides are focused, learners won’t feel overwhelmed. If you’re using voice-overs, make sure they don’t contain excessive details since these can also make the content too dense.
Another thing to consider here is the use of gamification and interactivity. If the content is already exciting, you don’t need to do too much to ensure learners remain interested. For drier, more complex topics that are essential, you can draw on the special effects to ensure learners don’t get bored.
The success of your eLearning course depends heavily on your ability to develop relevant, engaging content aimed at achieving organizational objectives. It is crucial that you focus on learners’ needs and skills and make it clear what you want to obtain from the course. When the five factors outlined above aren’t considered, it is unlikely that your eLearning program will result in a significant return in investment.