Lab Notes
The Big Know

Say Goodbye to Boring eLearning

When you hear the word eLearning, what’s the first thought that comes to mind?

Boring. Compliance. Required?

You probably don’t think about its scale and on-demand availability, the multi-media experience, or the ability to measure performance and ROI.

If you’ve spent any time in a corporate setting, I wouldn’t be surprised if your first reaction to the word eLearning is a negative one. And that’s because a lot of online learning experiences out there — from online courses, to that compliance training that shows up in your email, to those webinars you half-attend over the lunch hour — they’re just not so great. But eLearning isn’t a poor medium across the board. The problem is simply that it’s often poorly executed.

Consider the top 5 mistakes in eLearning.

These are so ubiquitous that they don’t even need any explanation.

  1. Click, Click, Click, Quiz. You’ve learned.
  2. Why don’t you just sit back and enjoy this 150-slide PowerPoint for the next 45 minutes?
  3. I am an expert, and therefore I will tell you everything I know about this very specialized thing, even though what you really need is just a small portion of that.
  4. What you need to do is sell widgets. So, let me teach you about the history of our widget business.
  5. My brilliant content will make up for the fact that I’m a lousy presenter.

If these ring true for you, you’re not alone. And there are lots of reasons why eLearning content often comes out this way. But excuses don’t take away from the fact that this content is failing to achieve its goal.

It’s failing to teach!

And that’s sad when you consider how much money we spend on it and how important it is for employees, customers, or prospects to develop the knowledge and skills they seek, or that we seek for them.

It doesn’t have to be this way. eLearning can be a powerful strategy to meaningfully engage with an audience, to build real knowledge and skills, and even increase loyalty and deepen relationships with your brand.

You can realize all these benefits and then some if you follow basic best practices of instructional design:

  • Create content that captivates your learners’ interest and makes them care.
  • Actively educate by providing well designed and presented information, augmented with meaningful ways to engage with that content giving people immediate opportunities to activate their learning by applying it in real-world situations that matter to them.

Those are the keys to an eLearning experience that works for you, for your learners, and for your business.

Want to learn how to design and deploy great educational content that achieves your goals? Check out The Big Know’s free online course, Captivate – Educate – Activate, today.

As The Big Know’s Director of Instructional Strategy, Tom guides all the learning content created on behalf of his clients. He strongly believes the most effective learning content has to have two things to work well. First, it has to be instructionally sound, demonstrating best practices of instructional design and reflecting an understanding current learning theory. And second - it has to be cool. In his courses on The Big Know, Tom geeks out on his unique approach to branded education, and gives you practical tools and techniques for making really cool learning experiences that actually teach. Tom has been designing learning experiences for over 15 years - mostly in the digital space. He has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from the University of Kansas State and a master’s degree in organization development from the University of St. Thomas.

  1. elearning died sometime ago. Moocs, gamification, FCR, and blended learning are where you need to be. learning is not in a class room or even at your desktop, it is on your smart phone and in work space.

  2. Wouldn’t you say that MOOCs are a form of eLearning? And when you’re using blended learning, part of the blend is usually digital, no?

    Traditional elearning as described in this article, unfortunately, isn’t dead. It’s all over the place. I see it all the time.

    Perhaps it’s more like the undead. It won’t die. And it’s definitely after our brains.

  3. Agreed with eLearning being dated shorthand. At The Big Know, we’ve continued to fight the term, because it’s loaded with negative associations — as this article points out. We’ve pushed heavily into MOOCs and have built about 15 MOOCs for brands on our intuitive platform that crushes standards for engagement time and completion rate compared to Coursera & Udemy.