The Rapid Elearning Blog

e-learning mistake

A lot of e-learning is compliance-based and often how it has to be delivered is a bit rigid. I’ve heard plenty of examples where some compliance training requires X number of seat hours to certify the completion of the training.

This is ridiculous because the seat hours are completely disconnected from whether the learner demonstrates any semblance of understanding. But, like I said, that’s not going to change. And as an e-learning developer, you’re stuck.

Outside of compliance training, another large chunk is what I like to call regurgitative training. That’s where we repackage content that’s already available in some sort of digital format.

Policy training is a common type. The policies already exist online. We copy and paste the policies over a series of slides. Make the slides pretty. And then add a quiz.

Or, perhaps we need some ergonomics training; so, we copy and paste the ergonomics information that’s already available to the end user. We add some ergonomic pictures. Maybe get one of those cute comic-style animation makers so Susan can tell her cubicle mate Jack about her bad back, and then Terri the ergonomics person can pop in and tell Susan and Jack about ergonomics with almost Disney-like skill.

Maybe it’s time we rethink this approach to training for content that already exists. Here’s one idea:

  • The goal is for the person to use the content to make decisions or do things a certain way.
  • Instead of copying and pasting content that already exists in one digital format into another, focus on how to find and use the content.
  • Provide some instruction on what content is available, where it can be found, and why it exists.
  • For the assessment, skip the simple multiple choice quiz questions. Instead, create a series of quick decision-making scenarios that requires the person to locate the appropriate content to make the right decisions.

Some benefits to this type of approach are:

  • When content changes you don’t need to update the entire training program because the courses aren’t focused on specific content. Instead, they’re focused on where the content exists.
  • You’re teaching people to be resourceful and understand what’s available to help them do their jobs.
  • You also don’t need to cover every piece of information (which is a challenge when working with subject matter experts). All that information is freely available at the resource site.

How much of you e-learning courses already exist as content elsewhere? How do you approach these types of “training” requests?


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4 responses to “Are You Making This Mistake with Your E-Learning?”

Thank you for the article, thought-provoking on so many levels.

It’s a tough one, because it does seem that the problem lies, for some, maybe many companies, that compliance is a chore to be ticked off, rote rather than a learning vehicle devised to make people think.

I love the idea of teaching people, via the course presentation, how to research information rather than just feeding them. According to many a frustrated teacher, professor, company executive I know, too many people have no idea how to do the most basic of research be it internet or library, past a consumer driven approach. And multiple choice questions are a cop-out for most tests, not a valid measure of knowledge or understanding, and certainly not thought-provoking — but is that the current compliance test objective?

A quick decision-making scenario is a great idea, engaging and even fun, a real test of critical thinking and knowledge, with the added benefit that it (and research know-how) would transfer as value to other areas of people’s work, education and lives.

The question is, do companies want to take that step? In my experience they need heavy-duty convincing, despite it being far more valuable in the long-run to their needs and the learner. They would need to see it as a long-term investment rather than a check-box.

Most of all I like your ideas because they respect the learner.
Too few compliance trainings take the learner’s needs into account, probably why people find them so boring and forgettable too!

Great article! Bookmarked it for future reference.
I don’t make compliance training in my department, but we do sometimes rehash information.
I also like the idea of decision-making scenarios instead of a multiple choice quiz. I will try to think how to apply this.

May 14th, 2021

Thanks for sharing these amazing tips. Nowadays E-learning is a need of every student worldwide. Everyone must avoid mentioned mistake while doing the learning, whether you’re a student who is studying online tuition or attending live lecture online.

May 22nd, 2021

Hi Tom,
I am new to your site and really appreciate the information that you have provided. I am currently studying Instructional Design and found this article interesting.

The suggestions that you have stated align with learning process theory strategies. Strategies that require the learner to process the information in various ways using the long-term memory and the working memory.

Researching the information and applying the knowledge to decision-making scenarios is a great way to refresh what you call “ regurgitative” digital content. More importantly, it will also allow the learner to engage in the training using higher-order thinking skills. The types of strategies you mentioned will ensure that the learner demonstrates understanding and is more likely to remember the training when completed.