SHIFT's eLearning Blog

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

To visit the Spanish blog, click here
    All Posts

    Why Aren’t Employees Engaged in Your eLearning Courses?

    The engagement level of employees in eLearning courses isn’t a simple black-and-white matter; it's multifaceted.

    eLearning courses have the potential to be a catalyst for employee motivation and professional growth. Their effectiveness, however, hinges on their quality, innovation, and relevance. The difference between a highly engaging course and one that falls flat can be stark – both in terms of employee participation and return on investment. For businesses, it's imperative to consistently evaluate course data, gather feedback, and refine content to ensure maximum engagement and learning outcomes.

    Several factors can deter employees from immersing themselves fully in these courses. These impediments can arise from innate human behavior, as well as from the design and execution of the course itself.

    But before diving into these challenges, let's establish our understanding of learner engagement:

    Learner Engagement Defined

    Engagement in learning transcends mere activity or busyness. It embodies motivation, empowerment, and a genuine thirst for knowledge. Engaged learners are not merely studying for external rewards or recognitions but are intrinsically motivated by the joy of learning itself. True engagement signifies an emotional bond between the learner and the content. It’s about fostering a drive within learners, compelling them to invest time, effort, and energy into understanding and assimilating your content. The goal is learning inspired by passion, not obligation.

    Before designing your next eLearning course, consider these prevalent challenges that could hinder your students' engagement and course completion:

    1) The Course Content Doesn't Match Their Expertise - Too Easy to Too Difficult

    One common mistake in eLearning course design is not accurately matching the content's complexity to the learner's expertise. When content is too basic, it can seem redundant and fail to engage learners who might already know the material. On the other hand, if the content is too advanced, it can be overwhelming and discourage participation.

    Why It's a Problem: Mismatched content can lead to reduced engagement, lower course completion rates, and ultimately, a waste of time and resources for both the organization and its employees.

    Actionable Tips:

    • Conduct a Pre-Assessment: Before launching the course, survey your intended audience. Understand their current knowledge level and expectations regarding the topic.

    • Offer Differentiated Learning Paths: If possible, design courses that offer varying levels of complexity. This allows learners to choose a path that best matches their expertise.

    • Incorporate Adaptive Learning: Use technology to adapt content in real-time based on the learner's performance. If they're breezing through material, offer more advanced challenges. If they're struggling, provide additional resources or simpler explanations.

    • Relate to Known Concepts: Whenever introducing new material, try to draw connections to concepts or ideas the learner is already familiar with. This can make complex ideas more accessible.

    By being aware of these pitfalls and implementing the suggested strategies, you can create eLearning courses that cater more effectively to your audience's needs and promote better engagement.


    2) Unrealistic Time Expectations

    A frequent oversight in eLearning design is not accounting for the busy schedules of participants. Assuming that employees can fit lengthy or intensive courses into their already packed workdays and personal lives can set them up for failure.

    Why It's a Problem: When employees feel pressed for time or overwhelmed by course demands, they're less likely to engage with the material, let alone complete the course. This not only diminishes the return on investment but can also lead to frustration and decreased morale.

    Actionable Tips:

    • Flexible Scheduling: Offer the course in digestible chunks and allow employees to progress at their own pace. This approach respects both their work responsibilities and learning capacities.

    • Time Estimates: Clearly communicate upfront how much time each module or section of the course is expected to take. This transparency helps learners manage their time effectively.

    • Allocate Work Hours: If possible, dedicate specific work hours for eLearning. This demonstrates that the organization values continuous learning and respects the time constraints employees face.

    • Microlearning: Incorporate microlearning modules—short, focused segments that tackle one specific topic or skill. These can be quickly consumed during short breaks, making learning less overwhelming and more integrative with daily routines.

    • Dosed Content: Instead of overwhelming learners with a deluge of information, drip-feed the content. Release modules or lessons periodically, ensuring learners have adequate time to digest each portion before moving on.

    By understanding and addressing the time constraints your employees face, you increase the likelihood of course engagement and completion.

    Read more: Maximize Student Learning Time and Efficiency in eLearning Environments


    3) Lack of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

    Assuming that the mere provision of a training opportunity will universally motivate employees can be a miscalculation. While some individuals are naturally driven by the prospect of learning, others may require more tangible incentives.

    Why It's a Problem: Without a clear sense of purpose or reward, training can be perceived as an obligation rather than an opportunity. Without proper motivation, even the most well-designed courses can see declining participation and completion rates.

    Actionable Tips:

    • Personalize the Benefits: Emphasize how the training aligns with employees' personal and professional aspirations. Highlighting the potential for skill enhancement, career progression, or personal growth can resonate deeply.

    • Introduce Tangible Rewards: Consider introducing certificates, badges, or even tangible incentives like bonuses or gifts for course completion. Recognizing achievement can fuel enthusiasm and dedication.

    • Set Clear Objectives: Begin each course or module with a clear outline of what participants will learn and how it will benefit them in their roles. This clarity provides a roadmap and purpose for their learning journey.

    • Encourage Peer Accountability: Foster a culture where teams or pairs encourage and hold each other accountable for course progression. Peer support can be a powerful motivator.

    • Leverage Flexibility Wisely: While online courses offer unmatched flexibility, it's essential to provide structured guidelines and checkpoints. Offer suggested schedules or milestones to help learners pace themselves and maintain discipline.

    Read more: How To Motivate Learners Before, During and After an eLearning Course


    4) Lack of Management Support

    Overlooking the pivotal role of management support in training initiatives can be a critical oversight. When leadership isn't on board, training efforts may falter, overshadowed by other organizational priorities.

    Why It's a Problem: Without leadership endorsement, employees might question the value and priority of the training. If they perceive the course as non-essential or without organizational backing, their commitment may wane.

    Actionable Tips:

    • Secure Top-Down Commitment: Ensure organizational leaders recognize and communicate the importance of the training. Their endorsement can greatly influence how training is perceived and prioritized by employees.

    • Empower Managers with Information: Equip managers with clear insights into the course's objectives, benefits, and relevance. Their understanding will enable them to meaningfully support and motivate their teams.

    • Foster Open Dialogue: Encourage managers to have regular check-ins with their team members. Discussing course progress, addressing concerns, and celebrating achievements can boost morale and dedication.

    • Highlight Organizational Benefits: Make it clear how the training aligns with organizational goals. When employees see the bigger picture – how their learning contributes to the company's success – their engagement may rise.

    • Invest in Manager Training: Offer sessions specifically tailored to train managers on championing eLearning initiatives. Equip them with strategies to motivate, support, and guide their teams throughout the learning journey.

    With the right level of leadership support, training initiatives stand a better chance of achieving their desired impact, benefiting both individuals and the organization as a whole.


    5) Technological Barriers

    Overestimating learners' technological proficiency or providing inadequate technical resources can become significant roadblocks to effective eLearning.

    Why It's a Problem: Making assumptions about digital literacy or failing to ensure that all participants have consistent, reliable access to training tools can lead to disengagement, frustration, and low course completion rates.

    Actionable Tips:

    • Assess Technological Readiness: Before rolling out an eLearning program, gauge the technological preparedness of the participants. Understand their comfort level and proficiency with the required tools and platforms.

    • Provide Necessary Resources: Ensure that all learners have access to the necessary devices, software, and stable internet connections. Consider offering solutions or alternatives to those facing technical challenges.

    • Offer Digital Literacy Training: Recognize that not everyone is equally tech-savvy. Arrange short sessions or tutorials that introduce the eLearning platform, its features, and basic troubleshooting steps.

    • Optimize for Varying Bandwidth: Ensure that eLearning content remains accessible regardless of internet speed or connectivity issues. This means not only optimizing for slower connections but also providing options for offline access. Consider offering downloadable materials, allowing offline viewing, optimizing videos for reduced bandwidth, and providing text-based alternatives. By accommodating varying technological circumstances, you can ensure continuous learning, even when online access is compromised.

    • Maintain a Technical Support Line: Establish a helpline or support system where learners can address their technical queries or concerns, ensuring they don't remain stuck due to tech issues.

    By proactively addressing technological challenges and ensuring all participants are adequately equipped, you can pave the way for a smoother, more effective eLearning experience.

    6) Poor Course Design

    Assuming that simply digitizing outdated materials will captivate today's learners is a misconception. Modern employees anticipate a sophisticated, engaging eLearning experience far beyond static slides and monotonous content.

    Why It's a Problem: Poorly designed courses can lead to disengagement, reduced information retention, and low completion rates. As the saying goes, "content is king," but presentation can significantly impact how that content is received.

    Actionable Tips:

    • Focus on User Experience: Ensure the course platform is intuitive, easy to navigate, and user-friendly. An accessible and appealing interface can greatly enhance the learning experience.

    • Segment the Content: Rather than overwhelming learners with lengthy sections, break the content into digestible, bite-sized modules. This modular approach not only improves attention span but also allows for better content assimilation.

    • Incorporate Diverse Media: Use a mix of text, visuals, interactive elements, and multimedia to cater to various learning styles and keep engagement levels high.

    • Stay Updated with Design Trends: Ensure the visuals are contemporary, clean, and not cluttered. Staying abreast of current design trends can make your course more aesthetically pleasing and relatable to today's learners.

    By investing in modern, intuitive, and engaging course design, you're not just presenting information; you're curating an enriching learning experience that resonates with your audience.

    Read more: How to Design an eLearning Course that Resonates with Your Learners


    7) Overlooking the Impact of Forgetfulness

    Assuming employees will always remember to engage with eLearning amidst their numerous tasks and responsibilities can be an oversight. While self-paced learning offers flexibility, it can sometimes result in courses slipping through the cracks.

    Why It's a Problem: Without regular reminders and accountability mechanisms, employees may unintentionally deprioritize or forget about ongoing courses. This can lead to incomplete training sessions, missed opportunities, and unachieved learning objectives.

    Actionable Tips:

    • Diversify Reminder Mechanisms: Relying solely on emails may not be the most effective approach. Incorporate a mix of notifications, such as calendar invites, app alerts, and even brief team check-ins, to keep training on employees' radars.

    • Incorporate Regular Checkpoints: Break the course into smaller sections with specific deadlines or checkpoints. This structure provides natural moments for reminders and progress assessments.

    • Engage Managers in Accountability: Ensure that team leaders and managers play an active role in tracking and encouraging the progress of their team members. Their active involvement can reinforce the importance of course completion.

    • Offer Progress Dashboards: Implement a system where employees can visually track their progress. A clear visual representation can act as both a reminder and a motivator.

    • Gather Feedback on Notifications: Periodically ask employees about the effectiveness and frequency of reminders. Their feedback can guide improvements in how and when reminders are dispatched.

    8) Lack of Practical Application in Real-Life Contexts

    Overlooking the importance of real-world applicability can render a course ineffective. If employees don’t see the relevance of the content to their daily tasks or broader life, their motivation to engage may wane.

    Why It's a Problem: Learning without the opportunity for practical application can be perceived as theoretical or abstract. Without a clear line of sight to its real-world benefits, training risks being classified as non-essential or "for later".

    Actionable Tips:

    • Ensure Day-to-Day Relevance: Design your course with the learner's daily tasks in mind. If they can immediately see how the content will benefit their day-to-day responsibilities, engagement is likely to be higher.

    • Set Clear Expectations: Right from the outset, communicate the tangible benefits and outcomes of the course. What can learners expect to gain, and how soon can they apply it?

    • Focus on Learner Benefits: While the course might have been created with organizational outcomes in mind, it's essential to frame the content in terms of its benefits to the learner. What skills will they acquire? How will it make their job easier or more fulfilling?

    • Incorporate Real-Life Scenarios: Use case studies, simulations, and practical exercises that mirror real-life situations. This not only enhances understanding but also showcases the direct applicability of the learned content.

    • Solicit Feedback for Relevance: Regularly check in with learners to gauge the relevance of the content. Their feedback can guide refinements, ensuring the course stays aligned with their needs and aspirations.

    By anchoring eLearning content in real-world contexts and benefits, you can elevate its perceived value and relevance, encouraging more consistent engagement and application.

    Are You Creating Engaging eLearning?

    Investing in employee learning is not just an organizational commitment; it's an engine that drives your company's success and positions you at the forefront of industry competition. However, the potency of this engine is only as good as the engagement it fosters. It's crucial to continuously evaluate and refine your eLearning strategies. Outdated or misaligned methods can dilute your investment, diminishing its returns. Stay proactive, remain adaptive, and ensure that your training initiatives don't just educate, but truly engage, inspiring growth and innovation at every turn.

    Read more: How to Ensure Employees Take (and Complete) Your eLearning Course

    visual design crash course


    Diana Cohen
    Diana Cohen
    Education Writer | eLearning Expert | EdTech Blogger. Creativa, apasionada por mi labor, disruptiva y dinámica para transformar el mundo de la formación empresarial.

    Related Posts

    5 Rules for Future-Proofing Your eLearning Courses

    Do you feel overwhelmed by how quickly job market demands change and how seemingly slow traditional training methods are to adapt? Are you frustrated by spending months developing eLearning courses, only to find yourself updating them shortly after due to rapid shifts in professional needs? Do you notice that existing courses no longer capture your team's attention or interest, losing their effectiveness almost immediately? If these questions resonate with you, know that you're not alone. Most leaders in organizational development and learning share these concerns and are looking for effective solutions.

    Maximizing Retention: Strategies to Make Your eLearning Courses Memorable

    Have you ever wondered why some information sticks with us long after we've learned it, while other details seem to disappear almost as soon as we hear them? It's a curious aspect of our memory that can be both fascinating and, at times, frustrating. Consider this: You've just completed an online course, feeling confident in your grasp of the material, only to discover that much of what you learned seems to evaporate in the days that follow. This phenomenon is all too familiar to many of us, and it presents a unique challenge for those of us in the field of Learning & Development (L&D) and eLearning content creation. Our goal is to create courses that not only engage learners but also ensure that the information sticks.

    5 Essential Content Creation Tips For eLearning Success

    So, you've been handed the exciting task of creating an eLearning course. Now what? Let us help you get with it and nail each aspect of the content development process. You might be wondering, "Is there a magic formula for crafting eLearning content that's both relevant and captivating?" Well, the truth is, each project is a unique beast because of a bunch of factors like the size of your team, how much content you need to produce, what the subject is, the best way to deliver that content, how much your audience already knows, and of course, your business objectives. These elements all play a huge role in shaping your course's direction.