August 20th, 2013 E-Learning


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.

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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter


7 responses

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I couldn’t agree more. You hit the nail on the head. This goes for elearning and many other platforms businesses deploy such as CRM software, etc. Thanks for sharing, very useful information.

Avatar Kevin Riebeling

Great blogpost, it refers to where I wrote about in one of my comments on some of your posts.

Another interesting part of elearning is that you have to work together with different people and companies. That needs a lot of preperation and good coordination. I remember workjng together with a webbuildingcompany that had to build my elearningstory. I was the elearningexpert, the webcompany was expert in webbuilding and flash, the cliënt was the expert in the subject. And then we had the boss who was in charge of the financiel things and didn’t know about elearning and didn’t know about building websites. We were all freelancers for a nonprofit organisation and the bill would be paid by the cliënt. What hapened? I made a storyline with the cleint for the elearning and the webcompany thought they could do it better and built something different without asking. Normaly the webcompany would have had a big problem, but the boss had other business with that company and needed them, so he could’t blame them a d blamed somebody else. Gues Who. But the client was on my site. It took more then a year to work things out, and make my cliënt a little bit happy with the original elearningstoryline.

So Be sure everybody does the thing they are good at, that they werk together hand chat everybody has type right priorities.

Avatar Wilco

Excellent. I am not new to elearning, but completing a Masters now in Online Teaching and Learning and a large component of it has been course design, adult learning principles,, elearning, user analysis studies, and more…and what you have shared is not only true but needs to be shouted from the rooftops. While the corporate world errs, the educational field does too – famous for those stockpiled PowerPoints being recycled repeatedly. Here’s to change.

Avatar Maryalice Leister

Telling is not training…and recycled PowerPoints are essentially “telling” the learner what they need to know or do. There is almost no retention in that kind of information transfer. I agree that elearning needs to be fresh and up-to-date, if it is not, it is worthless. I have been working as a ID for about 15 years now and there is always something new to utilize to improve the delivery and retention of the training.

Avatar KevinY

Hi Kevin-
Thanks for the comment. You’re absolutely correct, telling is certainly not training – far from it (I believe the folks at ASTD put on a seminar with that same name) 🙂

“death by PowerPoint is a very real phenomenon.” Oh yeah? Provide one death certificate that shows the cause of death as PowerPoint.

Avatar Greg

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