Most people in the workforce today have had the experience of attending online or web-based training at some point. Many of us have taken college courses, job training courses, or had some other learning experience that involved information being delivered to us via a computer screen. And it’s probably also safe to say that some of our experiences were good, some were marginal, and some of them may have felt like a complete waste of our time.
So what makes an eLearning course good? Or perhaps a better question, what can make it great?
Here are some secrets to creating an eLearning environment that is effective, engaging and yes, even great.
- Recognize that online learning is different. This may seem like an obvious statement, but many of the failures in online training courses come from classroom instruction that was simply repurposed for eLearning. The difference between what is required for an instructor-led course and what is necessary for an eLearning course can be summarized in a single word… time. In a classroom setting, an instructor is expected to fill a set amount of time with instruction, since that is what has been paid for. The focus is on quantity of instruction rather than quality. By contrast, an eLearning course has information to deliver and must do so in the most efficient way possible. Time-sensitivity is paramount and the focus becomes how to effectively deliver the message in the shortest time possible.
- Know your audience. It is important to recognize that learners within this medium are already actively engaged in the process. They know that this is not a classroom setting where it is enough to just show up. Those participating in an eLearning environment must interact with the medium in order to even participate in a lesson. It is this interaction that demonstrates the commitment level of the learner; now the course needs to deliver.
- Enable interaction and control of the lesson. Adult learners want to feel like they’re in control of their learning environment. eLearning courses should allow a participant to move through the course at whatever pace is comfortable and to delve deeper into areas of interest to them. Allowing a learner to dig deep or to skip over some concepts that they may already know, shows a level of respect for their experience and for their personal choices.
- Make better content. Technology has enabled the design of many concepts into an eLearning platform that weren’t possible even a few years ago. Three-dimensional graphics, multi-path lesson choices and high-resolution animation are just a few of the technology tools available when designing training courses today. But this doesn’t mean that every eLearning course should employ these methods. A great eLearning course uses only those tools that best get the lesson objectives across.
- Focus on an engaging environment. Learning management systems (LMS) are available that provide a professional user experience and act as a secure, branded portal to access eLearning content. Also, a platform that encourages social learning and interaction can help a user feel more involved and connected, instead of just showing up to click through another required course.
The landscape of training has changed and continues to evolve. As new methods for delivering information become available, the way we design training must continually be analyzed. It is up to the designers of these lessons to keep pace with not only the technology, but the learners’ needs as well. And as more people are exposed to eLearning and online training, it will become increasingly clear just what a difference a great training system can make.
One system that I recommend that you review is TOPYX social LMS. It was voted 2012′s “Best Social Learning System” and has all of the traditional learning management features designed for easy use and administration. You can see just how TOPYX can help make your eLearning great by requesting a demo.
Jeffrey A. Roth
Vice President, Marketing and Communications