The web is full of reports and commentaries that describe how elearning is slowly but surely taking over from traditional forms of training. It has made enormous inroads in academia to the point it is easy to find virtual universities whose entire curricula is delivered digitally. In the corporate world, e-Learning has grown steadily over the past 10 years and is now a $27B market annually.
eLearning is not going away!
Nonetheless, there are those who believe that elearning cannot take the place of face-to-face interaction – that it cant work in an organizational setting. They provide examples of poorly received elearning that sits unused on a hard disk somewhere simply collecting dust.
Typically these failures are the result of poor planning and implementation. elearning, like any new corporate initiative, needs to be well thought out and supported.
Here are some of the typical reasons given why elearning has not succeeded and what can be done to avoid these pitfalls:
- Limited support across the organization
If the senior guys dont support the initiative, the project is almost certain to fail because of restricted or insufficient resources (human capital and budgets) or conflicting priorities, For the project to succeed, all levels of an organization need to buy-in and ensure it maintains momentum for the long-term.
- Too technical
e-Learning, by its definition, fails without sound underlying technology but it is the content and its presentation that drives knowledge retention and learner performance. The technology should, if applied correctly, be enabling but unobtrusive. When deploying elearning solutions within an organization, its important to have both functional and experiential input on the project team.
- Unreliable LMS Platform
The user experience is impacted not only by the content but by the experience and environment as well. If system downtime is a recurring problem, or outdated systems that affect course performance are used, the student will lose interest in the course. A robust LMS with high reliability (uptime) is needed to encourage learner engagement.
- Poor Learner Support
In a classroom setting, the instructor is immediately available to provide support to his or her students. The need for learner support doesnt go away in an elearning course but, because of elearnings portability (it can be taken anywhere and anytime), instructor support is unrealistic. a Learner will quickly become frustrated if they are unable to have their questions answered promptly.
Its critical that there are support channels available to the student throughout the course. Voice, online chat and messaging, or email are examples of support that can be made available to the student.
None of these issues are showstoppers. Good planning incorporating the best practices suggested here will help mitigate your exposure to these pitfalls. I encourage you to share your elearning development experiences in the comments area below. Both positive and negative experiences are welcome – we can learn from both!