While many people (including myself) contest that elearning is a viable solution for organizations large and small, there are some unfortunate misconceptions regarding elearning that decrease its effectiveness. In most cases, this is the result of key decision makers in companies not fully understanding the concept of elearning, and instead buying into the benefits based on the sales pitches they hear from vendors.
Don’t get me wrong, elearning is an absolute fantastic tool that every company should utilize for employee development and training (at the very least for the natural cost benefits). That said, in my consulting arrangements I have seen some misconceptions from leadership regarding elearning – which if gone unchecked can have a negative impact on the company. Below are the three biggest misconceptions that I have come across in my consulting career:
1. Elearning is “One-and-Done”
I think it’s safe to say that many organizations understand the value elearning can have on the bottom-line. Unfortunately though, the general opinion from higher level executives is that all they need to do is invest one time in their elearning program and they never have to spend another dollar. This is a gross miscalculation.
Any instructional designer will tell you that elearning needs to be proactively managed, even after it is implemented. Information changes extremely quickly, and so should the elearning that an organization is leveraging to train their employees. Bad information is bad for business, and a stale elearning course can negatively impact the bottom-line if employees are leveraging this bad information to do their jobs.
2. Converting Existing PowerPoint Files is Effective
I can recall a project where we were tasked with creating an elearning program for a new software system. The client manager looked to cut costs by pointing our team to a repository of 20 something PowerPoint presentations, requesting that we just update some of the content and publish the presentations using Articluate Studio.
Even though modern elearning development has its roots in Microsoft PowerPoint, converting these presentations and calling them elearning is a flat-out terrible idea. As many people know (or have heard of), death by PowerPoint is a very real phenomenon. Reading slides and bullet-points on a computer is dreadfully ineffective. At the very least, modern instructional design principles should be applied to the exiting templates.
3. Elearning Development & Management is Part-Time Work
More often than not, I see organizations attempt to assign their elearning development and management programs to someone (or multiple people) already within the company who has an entire different job description. The problem here is that these individuals are not adequately trained in instructional design principles, nor in the technology or trends that exist in elearning – a major reason why elearning courses go stale to begin with (see point #1).
Instead, the development and management of courses, learning management systems, and training should be the full-time job of at least one individual at a company. This person should have a passion for the industry so that he or she can introduce the latest trends into their company’s program. Taking care of this misconception will naturally resolve misconceptions #1 and #2.
There are certainly other misconceptions that exist towards elearning today, but these are the three that I find to be most dangerous to an organization. If you are considering putting in a learning program, then make sure you take the steps necessary to ensure that you don’t fall trap to these three items as failing to do so could cost you money in the long run.