Online and on demand

Common pitfalls

-Rolf Sohner
  • Poor instructional design Instructional design - the way training content is presented makes the difference between good and bad e-learning solutions. Present content in an interesting and relevant way, with enough interactivity to keep users engaged.
  • Eliminating human contact Moving all education and training to e-learning may not give the best results. People still value face-to-face instruction, and training in isolation eliminates the benefits of good teachers and peer-to-peer learning. Blended learning balances face-to-face and online learning.
  • Being too cost-oriented An obsession with the bottom line can result in cutting corners and lead to a diminished program. The ultimate goal is to improve business."
  • Unmanaged content Content management, or its lack, can hold hidden costs so check who owns the content, because updates can be very expensive. Look for a system that lets you control content and update it easily.
  • No 'wow' factor The wow factor generates enthusiasm and support for an e-learning platform, so pick your first project wisely. Choose one you know will be well received and can be completed quickly. A project that is difficult or doesn't excite may cause people to lose faith.
  • No choices for users There is more than one way for users to complete their e-learning. As different people need different learning pathways, it's important to provide multiple options. A system has to be flexible to be successful; rigidity may fail the needs of some sections of your user group.
  • Bandwidth can't cope The system looks great. User trials have been a success, but the program slows the company network and uses too much bandwidth. Bandwidth considerations are critical for online programs where users are dispersed geographically. Accessibility is as important as the content itself.
  • No feedback Are users fulfilling all e-learning requirements? As part of ongoing user research, organizations should be able to track user behaviour. If cheating or lessons jumping occurs, you need to know when and why. It could be a range of reasons, such as it's too easy, too hard, or the mix of interactivity is not right. It also enables you to identify content improvement opportunities. If users are consistently failing an activity, it is probably inappropriate or too difficult.
  • Non-rating data What is the scoring data telling you? It's no good having a 100 percent success rate if participants are taking six or seven attempts to complete the module. Scoring data not only provides insight to your users, it measures the effectiveness of a program.
  • No talking Encourage feedback from users and make it easy. Users are the key stakeholders in an e-learning program. To keep it successful, an organization must listen to its users.
  • Rolf Sohner is manager, learning services, iFocus

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