The other day someone asked what I thought the three top pain points were for online training or elearning. I hear lots of complaints and I’m sure that there are many pain points, however if we keep them in perspective, they’re really not as painful as being stabbed or thrown down a flight of stairs. Here are some of the issues I find most challenging with elearning.
E-Learning Pain Point #1: Courses are Boring
I review a lot of courses during the year. Many of them are very basic–consisting of mostly slides, simple graphics, and bullet points. I’ll assume that the people who do take the courses probably don’t find then all that exciting. A slide with bullet point content isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, slide after slide of this type of content isn’t the most effective way to engage and teach people.
The bigger issue isn’t usually the content as much as it is that the content isn’t relevant to the person’s needs. Here are a few tips to help.
- The solution is to reframe the content so it’s relevant to the learner. Talk with your potential audience and find out where the content comes into play with their daily roles. Then convert the bullet points into more meaningful content.
- Ideally you’re able to align the content and learning objectives to the appropriate activities.
- Worst case, start with a case study to convert the content into a meaningful story.
E-Learning Pain Point #2: Developers Have Limited Skills & Resources
Many of the people I meet are the only elearning person on staff. And the majority of them didn’t start in elearning. They started as trainers who moved to elearning as the organization needed to put courses online. They end up having to do everything from instructional design, graphic design, and course authoring.
In addition to having limited experience building elearning courses, they usually lack a breadth of technical knowledge and programming skills. On top of that, they don’t get adequate support for other things such as media assets and IT help.
Many of them do a great job given their limited resources, but to build courses that are engaging, interactive, and meet learning objectives requires more than a basic understanding of PowerPoint and learning to find free clip art. This means that the developers need time to learn the skills to build more than basic courses and they need more support from their organizations.
Without organizations making a bigger commitment to their elearning teams, most courses will probably be stuck in pain point #1.
Here are some solutions for those who want to learn more and do more:
- Check out all of the free getting started resources we have in the community. There’s a lot of good generic content, free ebooks, and of course tutorials to learn the software.
- Participate in the weekly challenges to practice new things. Even if you don’t participate, make it a point to see what others do as a source of inspiration.
- Take classes where you can. You can go for a formal degree or certificate at most of the universities. There are informal options like the video tutorials, lots of free webinars, and a number of opensource learning opportunities. And of course, participate in your local ATD, ISPI, and STC chapters.
- Read a book and apply what you learn to your courses (or the weekly challenges). Here’s a good starting list. Or better yet, create a mini module on what you learned in the book and share it with others. It’s a great way to practice building courses–solidifying the content in your own brain and sharing what you learn with others.
E-Learning Pain Point #3: [Insert pain point here]
I can add an assortment of additional pain points such as courses are too long, high dropout rates, etc. But I’d like to open it up to you. What is the single biggest pain point for you when it comes to elearning and online training? Add your thoughts in the comments section.
Upcoming E-Learning Events
- May 22-24 (Atlanta). ATD International Conference & Expo. We'll be in booth 738. Swing by to chat.
- June 20-21 (San Diego). FocusOn Learning conference.
- Articulate Roadshows. Join us for one or two days of e-learning goodness. Day 1 focuses on more general type e-learning topics and Day 2 is centered on learning to build some nice, reusable interactions. Learn more and sign up using the links below. Seats are limited for the events. If you're interested in presenting at one of the roadshows, let me know.
- There are a couple of other events planned. Once we get all of the bookings confirmed, we'll add the registration page and info.
Free E-Learning Resources
Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.
Here’s a great job board for elearning, instructional design, and training jobs
Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills
Lots of cool elearning examples to check out and find inspiration.