The Rapid Elearning Blog

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - what do you love and hate about e-learning

The infographic below shows the results of a recent survey we conducted on what people love and hate about elearning and online courses. I’ve included a few of my thoughts.

The E-Learning Industry is Hot!

The industry is growing like crazy. This is good because often the training people are the first to get cut when companies restructure. However, many of the emerging technologies and devices (like mobile apps) are centered on learning. Instead of training being the first group on the chopping block, today it plays a key role in the evolution of online courses and learning moving forward.

E-learning is still relatively new and many organizations are still making the move to online courses. The authoring tools offer plenty of capability, but the next step in the process is making all of these online courses effective. That’s where you come in.

What About Those That Take the Online Courses?

I routinely ask my friends and neighbors what types of online courses they take at work and how they feel about it. Usually the feelings are mixed. They tend to find the online courses boring, but prefer them over going to a class.

The survey shows that most people want relevant content and almost as many prefer decision-making scenarios. One value of elearning is its flexibility to the organization and the learner. However, too often we focus on pushing content out efficiently and lose sight of the other benefits of elearning. However, online courses can be so much more than a bunch of screens of information. What can you do to change that?

What Do YOU Love and Hate About E-Learning?

Share one thing you really like about elearning and one thing you don’t like. Here are a couple of my thoughts.

What I like:

I like that I am part of an evolving industry. Things are changing fast. When I first started we were using overhead transparencies and 35mm slides. Today, not only do the online course creators have more options, but so do those who participate. Virtually everyone carries a small production studio with them at all times via their smart phones and tablets. It’ll be cool to see more of those capabilities integrated with learning and the online courses created.

What I don’t like:

The thing I don’t like about elearning is that the organizations that purchase the software don’t commit adequate resources to help their staff build better online courses. Many of the people I meet stumble into elearning from a more traditional training background. Thus they need more than the software to get up to speed. They also often don’t get a budget or resources to create the appropriate assets like graphics and other media. This just sets them up for failure and perpetuates a lot of the negative feelings people already have about online courses.

That’s what I love and hate. What about you?


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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.

22 responses to “What Do You Love & Hate About E-Learning?”

What I like: That current tools and technology let me be as creative as I’d like and give me enormous independence as I design and develop e-learning. It helps me create the best training possible.

What I don’t like: Anything I don’t like isn’t unique to e-learning, to be honest. I don’t like seeing badly-designed training, but badly-designed training has been around since long before e-learning was a glimmer in anyone’s eye. I don’t necessarily like to hear grousing about the industry (I let the hard-core grousers enjoy their own grumpy path as I enjoy my own); but constructively identifying opportunities for improvement and finding new solutions is what will keep us continually evolving, adapting, and improving.

August 12th, 2014

I both develop e-learning and use other’s courses for my own learning — I’m most interested in the recipient’s point of view, so as a consumer of e-learning ..

What I Like: The ‘safety’ of working in a simulated environment (if it’s done well in the video) and the ability to advance at my own pace and even stop in the middle to try a task on my own projects.

What I Hate: Long and rambling introductions about what we’re going to do, the list of tools available to do it, and why the author thinks it’s important. A little background is fine, but I prefer to get relevance information during the task because then I know what the author is talking about.

August 12th, 2014

What I like: The fact that there are so many options for elearning. Authoring tools and LMS’s abound. The choices seem to be endless.

What I don’t like: The fact that there are so many options for elearning. Authoring tools and LMS’s abound. The choices seem to be endless.

August 12th, 2014

I love that the modules I design can be used all over the world. At any given moment, someone in Japan, Germany or the US can be taking one of my courses. Taking learning out of a classroom and giving kind of impact and reach is very exciting. I love the creative aspect of elearning design. If I can imagine it, there is a way to make it happen… with the proper resources, of course. Figuring out those challenges gets me pumped up for my work.

What I don’t like? The dogma that still exists about what training and elearning are. Death by Power Point, videos, content being dumped on a learner… regardless of how ‘pretty’ it looks, isn’t good training. I don’t like stakeholders who believe posting the power point they gave during a session equates to elearning. They don’t want to ‘play games’ and think it is juvenile… regardless if the interaction is what makes the learning ‘stick’. That’s what I really don’t like.

What I like about e-learning is that it is easily archived. Unlike most of our in-person courses, we can actually go back and see what worked and what didn’t, how instructors approached each topic, and how much interaction actually took place. This offers enormous potential for improving the courses we offer.

What I don’t like about e-learning is that, as the technology and offerings have become so common-place, it is sometimes hard to convince people that MORE time needs to be devoted to creating an online event than an in-person event. Learners don’t want to sit through talking heads and endless powerpoints in tiny fonts… we want each minute to be meaningful and productive. If anything, I find I have far less patience for poor instructional design and unprepared presenters these days.

August 12th, 2014

What I like: Authoring software has given us many tools and features to be as creative as we want and need to be to make interesting and memorable course content. There is also a lot of good information “out there” (such as this blog) to help us along.

What I don’t like: What I call the “YouTube Effect”. Most people who either create courses or show up in the training unit with a stack of PowerPoint slides they want turned into a WBT have no concept of what makes an effective e-learning course. As a result, most of the courses end up looking like a lot of YouTube videos where the content and quality is obviously amatuerish and would only appear interesting to the person who made it – but nobody else. Tom was right – companies are willing to invest in great authoring software, but the course creator is is on his or her own to figure out how to best use it and come up with creative and effective ideas.

Hi Tom,

Always love your blogs! As you know, I am Instructional Designer have been designing Elearning for quite some time (12 years). Therefore, I’ve experienced the good and bad many times. Here is what I like about effective E-learning. It should look good, provide “Good to Know”, demonstrations and allow learners think critically.

My challenge with some E-learning projects have been lack of time and resources. I want say that is because some organizations do not understand the process and what it takes to develop effective E-Learning courses. In a previous project, I was able to present a presentation on E-learning, which included: Design, Resources and Time. I broke the entire process down, even explained the whole Storyboard process. I some how was able to win the group over with the presentation. However, they just understand that it takes more than Lectora to design E-learning. That part took awhile. The organization loved my work. Thus, I learned this a week before I left the company.

Here is what I have to say to other designers; know your craft. Keep doing E-learning the right way. E-learning must look good, is relevant, provides “Good to Know” details, demos and allows learners to think critically about the information. If you can’t get the company to invest in resources (software); be creative (i.e., PPT, Cloud based software). Some software has a Cloud version that you can purchase a subscription. Be flexible and adjust. E-learning is changing with mobile and videos. Always hone in on your skills.

August 12th, 2014

I love being a part of the change transition from text-heavy PowerPoint slides to meaningful engagement and learning.

I hate not having a budget and having my SMEs want all text with pretty meaningful(less)images or mostly text with some scenarios or questions throw in for interaction with the students.

My goal is to be more involved in the activites the employees are doing so that the training can be meaningful and relevant. I don’t want to work with radiation or biosafety hazards, but if I could find out what the issues were, what would help, what do they need to know to do there job better, etc. THAT would help me.

I’m with Jackie on the Like part. Today’s tools make it so easy to develop awesome training and allow me to (almost) be a one man army, which is awesome for independend instructional developers and small companies/startups. Interactive video, scenario based learning… You just got to love your job in this day and age.

My dislike is identical to yours Tom, especially when working in a major company where you have to make miracles happen within huge constraints. Adding Jackie’s comment is being forced to develop (can’t hardly call it design) boring page-turning e-learning. (the interesting challenge is getting it to point where you feel that it’s ‘at-least’ better than the original idea 🙂

I’ve been involved in elearning since the middle 90s. Primarily in my field it has been through the development of a web site and writing articles with a lot of graphic illustration rather than just “words”. I’ve often wanted to develop online and interactive courses, and was teaching myself how to code to be able to do it.

Having found Articulate Storyline I now have the resources to actually produce the kind of courses online I’ve wanted to produce. So I am in the process of learning the program and producing my first course.

I told my wife this morning I believe the course I am developing will be the only one in my field at this time. Most of the churches in our denomination don’t even have web sites, let alone online elearning courses.

Probably my only negative is that I see so many examples of great looking courses out there and my lack of ability to produce that level already; in other words, frustration with my own learning curve. I am so glad that Articulate Storyline is so easy to use!

As I show friends what I already have up on our web site I am running into the frustration of different devices not being able to run the player (Android systems).

August 12th, 2014

I have found it important to always be learning as the technology advances so should you. We are a technical medical manufacturing company and it is important that our sales and customer support teams are kept aware of changes this rapidly advancing field. What I love is the challenge to build a course that relates to the learner and respects how valuable their time is to each of them. I tend to deliver shorter courses that walk them through what they need to know, keeps their attention and helps them grow professionally. I love helping others to develop and to further prepare them in a career that offers both financial and personal rewards.
What I hate about e learning is when the developer doesn’t understand the value of what they can bring to them. They wish to burden their teams with lots of slides and information that make the presentation boring and doesn’t relate well to the learner. In many cases it seems they are paid by the slide and are making really great money! They don’t really understand how people learn today and how to deliver what meets their needs. It leaves a bad taste about e learning with the user and doesn’t help, may even set someone back, as they avoid they learning that should be a helpful tool. One day this will change, I plan to be a part of the movement towards this change to help others learn better.

I like the push to express ideas concisely and with maximum emphasis on effective visuals.

I dislike the authoring tools, which are getting better, but I think are still not well set up for creating interactive training experiences in an easy way. In my mind, the common tools are still very geared towards the kind of flip-slide e-learning that we’ve all said we don’t want to create. I’m not saying you can’t use these tools to do other things, but it always feels like a workaround.

What I Like: All the free resources and information available on the web. All the people willing to share information and cool tips like Tom and Connie Malamed.

What I don’t Like: People who call themselves Instructional Designers and yet have no clue about the principles of instructional design or the systems approach to instruction. People who call themselves instructional designers and have no clue about evidence base practices.

What I like very much: The sense of camaraderie in our tribe of e-learning professionals and aspiring professionals. People are happy to share their know-how freely; I feel like we have each other’s back. This good attitude extends to encouraging our more junior-level folks as they enter their careers.

What I dislike: the e-learning profession lags behind our more advanced sister profession, UX, in truly advocating for the end user: our learners. I think UX gets it right in insisting that a big part of the design effort needs to take place before a single slide is built — that is, taking the effort to really dig deep to understand the real-live humans who will be using our courses, and using that understanding to design learning experiences that get our learners in and out of the course as painlessly as possible.

This means, for example, carefully considering whether the out-of-the-box authoring tool options — the prefab interactions, the UI controls, the navigation structure — are suitable to the content and learner. Often, they are not, but we use them to expedite development. We feel pressured to get SOMEthing on the screen for the client to review; and this rush to development too often results in compromised courses.

I should clarify that I absolutely feel for my clients and their concerns about spending too much time/money upfront on “intangible” work product (user-centered research) — their worries are valid. I get it. It’s an expense that is difficult to justify to their higher-ups, who in turn have to justify it to the budget folks. So, this isn’t a rant against clients by any means; I understand where they are coming from.

As I see it, part of my job is taking as much effort as is needed to guide clients toward a more learner-centered approach, and I am happy to do it (sometimes with the time clock turned off, if need be). It’s that important.

I think it’s the single most important challenge right now, in my work at least — to really put myself in the shoes of the learner, and advocate for the time and money needed upfront to design and produce learner-centered courses. The payoff for the client is there: a well-designed course results in a well-taught learner.

…Well, that turned into quite a manifesto! I loved this question; thanks for putting it out there.

What I like is that there are so many creative ways to develop engaging learning content and it is still evolving.

It’s also great that there are people out there who are willing to share their experiences and examples of elearning. Very useful for any one limited by time, resource and organisational constraints!

What I don’t like is elearning that looks great but is not pedagogically sound or learner-focused. Effective elearniing should provide opportunities for learners to reflect, evaluate and learn from the experience.

Hi Tom,

Thank you for your blog! I learn something every time I read it.

I love how exciting the industry is! It’s challenging and fun. Also it is a great equalizer, if a learner is motivated, they can easily access information online and learn.

I don’t like how some learners are left behind. This may sound strange, but my experience is that there are still many people who don’t have strong computer skills. Online learning is a great option, but it isn’t always the best solution.

August 18th, 2014

Thank you, Tom! This made me feel like I am not alone with how elearning is handled in my organziation.
What I like: that employees don’t have to travel long distances to get training, that it can be interactive.
What I don’t like: employees don’t have time to focus on the learning. they are told just get it done, so they just let it run in the background while they do their “usual” work. Definitely need a culture switch in our organization.

Thanks for asking, Tom.

What I like most is immersive content. Cathy Moore has collated a long list of examples at Sometimes the least hi-tech techniques can be the most effective, like just asking learners to think about a compelling issue for a few minutes before continuing.

What I like least is so-called “compliance training”. (That phrase always reminds me of RoboCop, where the monstrous prototype robot says during a demonstration “You have 15 seconds to comply.” Then it fails to recognise that the innocent person playing the bad guy had already put down his gun, and it mows him down with a hail of bullets!)

Compliance training often seems like a box-ticking exercise, where it’s assumed that forcing learners to click through screens of text (or voiceover) will magically make them learn the content. Then the final assessment is often so easy – littered with multiple-choice questions where “All of the above” is always the right answer. I love the few times when the assessment becomes a pre-test, and I can skip the lesson after passing.

I must say though, statistics (like the ones in the love/hate infographic) often leave me with as many questions as they provide answers. For instance, the infographic says “58% of learners want content that’s relevant to their lives.” Does that mean a whopping 42% want content that’s irrelevant? Also, only 51% “want to tackle real-life situations in training”, so presumably an almost identical number (49%) don’t want to.

I find that stats tend to take on a life of their own (like the Mehrabian Myth that 93% of in-person communication is non-verbal). That’s why I’d love to hear more analysis of what the stats in the infographic mean.

Dig the infographic.

+ = the flexibility. e.g., I’m a developer and want to live in Juneau and make a living building courses. Go for it, dude, and say “hi” to the Grizzlies for me. Or I’m a comptroller for XYZ Corp and want to take my mandatory training on the plane to Disney Land where my three-year-old daughter is about to her Disney Princess Mind blown.

– = I think we still need to make it more human. Increase social presence. Perhaps make it more Disney. (Think of the course the cats who did Frozen could create.)

August 26th, 2014

Good way of describing, and good post to take facts
about my presentation focus, which i am going to present in school.

September 4th, 2014

What is love about online or CBT training is the ability to be totally creative and develop complex interactivity. What I hate about it is that there is so little information about LMSs and which are the best ones for Articulate Studio. I have searched everywhere.

Appreciating the hard work you put into your blog and
in depth information you present. It’s great to come across
a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed information. Fantastic read!
I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to
my Google account.