The Rapid Elearning Blog

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - Are you making these mistakes with your online training program

I was in London last week attending the Learning Technologies conference. It was great to meet so many blog readers and Articulate customers. During an interview at the conference I was asked about the three most common issues I see with elearning. Here are a few of my thoughts concerning those issues.

Will You Get 100% With a 50% Commitment?

There’s a big push to move content online. Usually the organizations start by converting existing classroom content into an “elearning” course. They do that with one of those easy-to-use rapid elearning tools. That part is good. The challenge though is that elearning is more than converting existing content to create online content.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - there's a lot that goes into building an elearning course

Many elearning developers kind of stumbled into the field. That means they usually don’t have a lot of the skills and experience required for more than basic course design and development. Sure they get the tools to create content and put it online. However, the organizations often tend to expect a result that is greater than the investment they make to get there.

If you want a successful elearning program you have to make the appropriate investment. Purchasing software like that made by Articulate is a good first step. But the software doesn’t determine course objects and it surely doesn’t replace sound instructional design. In addition, there’s more to elearning than just instructional design. For example, where will it reside and how do users access the courses? Will it be tracked? Who analyzes the reports?

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - elearning developers require a lot of divers skills

Here is a list of the types of skills required for successful elearning design and implementation. It’s not exhaustive but it does provide insight into what makes a course successful and that there are a lot of diverse requirements. This blog post on the skills you need to succeed will help flesh out some of those ideas.

Important E-Learning Skills

  • Project management: coordinate the design and delivery of the elearning course
  • Performance consulting: help the organization to identify the training need and recommend the best solution
  • Instructional design: craft a relevant learning experience to meet the course objectives
  • Graphic design: determine the visual design and develop the graphic assets
  • UX design: create the user experience
  • LMS/IT administrator: manage the course and access to it
  • Runner: order pizza and beer

Successful online training programs require people with these types of skills and understanding of technology. And the smaller the team, the more those expectations are placed on a single person. The organization needs to do those things that lead to success. Without the appropriate commitment, it’s guaranteed that the results will not be what they could be.

Do you Have Graphic & Visual Design Skills?

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - visual design tips for elearning

Many people tend to be a one-stop solution for the organization. That means they’re doing most of what’s listed above. Outside of instructional design and fluency with the software, the single most important skill is graphic design. Considering the state of today’s elearning (where many courses are bland information dumps) it could be argued that perhaps graphic design may rank higher than instructional design. I’d rather have a good-looking bad course than a bad-looking bad course.

Here are a few posts that highlight key considerations for this type of design:

Does Your Online Training Impact the Organization?

Ideally every course we create is meaningful and provides a positive impact to the learner and the organization. However, the reality is that there are a lot of courses that only exist for the purpose of delivering information and tracking completion. In those cases, the courses aren’t designed to change behavior. Instead their objective is sharing information and marking it the course complete. With that said there are many courses that do require changed behavior where the learner is able to process and apply what the course teaches.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - performance consulting tips for elearning and online training design 

In the first example, the measure of success is course completion at the lowest cost to the organization. In the second example the measure of success is meeting performance expectations. It’s important to understand the distinctions between those two types of courses. Otherwise you’ll waste resources on courses that don’t really need them, and possibly not meet the goals of those courses that require improved performance.

The first step towards success is the quality of performance consulting and nailing down a clear objective and understanding of the organization’s goals. This helps you build the right course. It’s not always practical to build elaborate, scenario-driven courses when the only expectation is a check mark indicating completion. Build a simple course and save your resources for those that require them.

If you’re just getting started, here are some posts I’ve written in the past:

Ultimately the goal is to bring value to the organization. Sometimes value is found in performance improvement and sometimes it’s found in resource management. By understanding the types of course your need to build and the impact on the organization, you’ll be on the road to success.


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 e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

8 responses to “Are You Making These Mistakes with Your Online Training Program?”

February 4th, 2014

Tom, I was one of the many visitors who met you in London (it was good to meet you in the flesh and have a brief chat). I’m afraid that it is your fault that I’m one of those poor unfortunate souls seduced into believing that I could do all of this on my own!! You, David and the rest of the community make it all seem so achievable!

However, one has to start somewhere and the ‘get something out there’, at the best quality one can achieve, is a necessary step to attract revenue to buy in more skilful people to overcome weaknesses.

The problem is that I’m now an addict whose misplaced belief receives an injection of motivation each week. And considering the crush in London last week – I’m not alone!! Keep me supplied.

February 4th, 2014

Thanks for pointing out that not every e-learning course has to be a huge production. Sometimes all you need is a simple information piece.

And congrats on the Seahawks’ Super Bowl win! If the Panthers couldn’t be there, I’m glad your team won. 🙂

Great piece. I feel the pressure a lot of being a one-man show, and it’s good to know I’m not alone!

Great blog! I am the Director of Solution Architecture here at SweetRush (custom content developer) and as my colleague Misha Milshtein shared in his recent blog “SweetRush fully embraced Storyline, just as we have with most major industry-relevant tools, and the amount of e-learning and m-learning courses we turned around this year using just Articulate Storyline (while continuing to employ other means of rapid and custom development, of course) was staggering. And we certainly put it to the test, even creating a complex branching simulation.”

To see his full blog:

Storyline has been a “saving grace” many times as the development platform to meet the needs of our clients!

I agree that not every e-learning course need a huge presentation. It can also be a simple production but make sure the course is presented well. And it is on how you present the course that will stick to the mind of the learners.

I’d suggest an additional resource, the content developer. Some orgs refer to them as writers or editors, but at my previous company, Option Six, they were much more. They aggregated all content sources into one coherent voice written at the audience. Good ID’s are hard to find. ID’s who are great writers are even more rare; plus it’s not a great use of the ID. If you’re writing for an audience used to The New Yorker, it’s different than the audience used to People magazine. Our subject matters range widely. But there’s more. A good content developer acts as project administrator, handling the dozens of elements required for an elearning course. Much cheaper and more knowledgeable of the project than a PM. They also track all changes and version control. If your environment is online, the content developer also builds the courses online; not at the end, but during the development so that you can user test online. You cut back the ID labor, enabling them to focus on their strengths, and dramatically cut back the PM, saving money, with a relatively lower cost content developer. We usually looked for CD’s with journalism or English backgrounds. Worked for over a dozen years.

February 21st, 2014

Came across this. any good?

@Nancy: it could be 🙂