Seven Deadly Sins of Online Learning

Annoyed at computerAre you guilty of committing online learning sins? Do your learners dread your eLearning modules? Does your rigid approach and aversion to change and update your eLearning rankle your team?

If you identify with any of these 7 deadly sins of online learning, you’ll need to rethink your eLearning strategy! Here’s what not to do if you don’t want your team to hate you and your learners to wish bad things on you!

1. Text overload!

No one likes to read reams and reams of text, especially not on a computer screen or tablet. That’s why we like to keep our articles short and sweet, peppered with images and headings. It’s easier to read, right?

Of course, some text is necessary in eLearning to explain terms, show workings or introduce new theories, but any more than that becomes overkill.

“But how will I get the content across?” we hear you ask. Well, that’s where other forms of media come in: video and audio, specifically. We pay much more attention when we can see or hear a presenter than if we’re asked to read paragraphs of text. So next time you’re creating eLearning, make sure you keep it short and sweet.

Man sitting at desk with his hand up2. Ignoring the learner.

If you were baking a cake for someone’s birthday, would you think about whether they would like the taste, or would you do whatever seemed ‘easiest’ or most ‘functional’? If they were mad on chocolate, would you bake a Victoria sponge because that’s what you always do and you know the recipe off by heart?

Of course not! You’d bake a gorgeous gooey chocolatey cake that they would adore. “Oh, it’s heaven!” they’d cry – not “Oh. Victoria sponge again… thanks.”

In the same way, when creating eLearning, you shouldn’t think about what makes your job easiest, what is quickest or involves the least amount of hard work. Instead, you should do everything within your power to make the eLearning appeal to your learners.

Interactife3. Lack of interactivity

Next Arrow: Click. Next Arrow: Click. Next Arrow: Click. Next Arrow: Click.

Boring, right? Your learners won’t appreciate you if your eLearning amounts to a plain old slideshow – and your team won’t be proud to put their name to this ‘eLearning’ that could really just be sent out as a PDF.

Instead, the focus should be on interactivity; clicking various places on screen to progress, drag and drop exercises, inputting their own thoughts and experiences into the learning and choosing how they progress through the module.

Interactivity like this will make the whole experience much more valuable and the content will stick in learners’ minds.

4. Yo, you ugly!

The amount of ugly eLearning out there is crazy – we often stare at the screens thinking that it’s almost as though the content creator was trying to create the ugliest-looking, most poorly-working eLearning module they possibly could. You know, like how kids will do a really shoddy job of washing the dishes so they aren’t asked again? Yet it’s the job of these eLearning designers to create units that hundreds or thousands of learners will see. You’d think they’d try a little bit harder, right!?

In simple terms: don’t be the ugly sister. Make the effort to be the beautiful Princess.

5. It’s too hard!

What is more demoralising than logging on to take your eLearning unit and realising it’s all way above your head? It’s never nice to feel out of your depth, and eLearning that is unnecessarily technical, pitched too far above the learner’s level or full of complicated terms will really put them off.

Solution? Make sure the content is pitched at the right level, never use an uncommon or overly-complicated (read: pretentious) term when you could use a well-known one, and make sure there is further reading available for those learners who need a bit more help.

Man Sleeping at desk

6. It’s too easy!

Everyone knows their ABCs and their 123s. If they didn’t, they certainly wouldn’t be in a position to undertake an eLearning module! So don’t treat them like idiots. If they’re taking a sales management training course, you can be confident that they’ll already know what ‘closing a sale’ is – don’t teach them to suck eggs.

If an eLearning module is going to be worth a learner’s time, it needs to teach them things they don’t already know. It’s a delicate balance to strike, but one which will pay off dividends when a learner comes away from their training energised, full of beans and motivation, and ready to take on the world with their newfound knowledge!

Worried employee no time to work

7. It’s too long!

Everyone’s time is precious, so it’s a deadly sin to draw out a learning module longer than it needs to be. If you can explain a theory in one paragraph, don’t try to stretch it over three slides because you think it looks more professional. Not only will it take you and your team longer to create, but the learner will certainly not appreciate it!

In the same vein, if you say an eLearning unit will take 1.5 hours to complete, it better had – inaccurate timings will make you an object of hate where learners are concerned! Imagine they schedule in the time into their busy days and then find their course overruns and they have to either stop their eLearning or cancel a meeting… That certainly won’t get you into their good books!

It pains us to say this, but this is by no meals a definitive list of eLearning sins – there are many more committed by even the most good-intentioned content creators.

If you commit any of these seven deadly eLearning sins, make sure you heed our warnings and make a commitment to change! It’s never too late to learn how to create incredible eLearning – click here to find out more!

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