Eight Pitfalls in eLearning Development

Eight Pitfalls in eLearning Development


In any organization eLearning development is a team effort. In small organizations it requires participation from people of multiple skill areas and some of those skills will likely need to be outsourced. In larger organizations different departments will need to come together to form the team. If roles are not clearly defined, if someone is not “in charge”, it will take longer than it should and it will cost more than is budgeted. So, management delegation and role responsibility are critical.

More specifically, elearning development has sometimes failed at the staff level because:

  1. There was not true buy-in to the mission. It was not pre-sold to those to be affected by the training.
  2. The learning objectives were not in sync with business strategies and objectives. This is basically a management issue; again we refer you to this blog.
  3. There was no road map. There was nothing more than an amorphous conclusion that “we need to train certain people on certain tasks and we need to employ eLearning to do so”. Goals and objectives were not clearly defined and accountability was lacking.
  4. The team was poorly constituted. Beyond a trainer, was line management involved; was the technical staff appropriately represented?
  5. No one took the time to assess existing skill levels of the intended trainees before attempting to improve on their skills. How can you develop a road map without knowing from where you start?
  6. Content was created by people and/or teams that lack understanding of how people learn.
  7. The content creating team did not possess adequate knowledge and understanding of the technology, web resources and “best practices” in elearning processes.
  8. Learner support, be it technical or contextual, was lacking. Trainees must have ready answers regarding how to work with the system and where to find resources for helping with various course scenarios.

This writer remembers sitting in a graduate business school management class. (To reinforce, this was graduate school, not Management 101.) The first sentence in Chapter 12 read, and I quote—

“Planning is essential to business success”

My reaction to that sentence was incredulous. My thought was—“I am paying good money for something so trite?!” In retrospect I think that sentence should have been the first sentence in many chapters. And it should definitely be a guiding light for an organization embarking on an eLearning journey.

Created, delivered and managed properly, elearning is a method of not just educating employees but also of motivating them to strive to be more successful. Before launching any program, it needs to be meticulously planned to avoid pitfalls that are now understood and easily avoided. Of paramount importance is the need to keep in mind that elearning is a powerful but not all encompassing program that should support trainee learning and development, not replace them.

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