3 Reasons Why ELearning Fails

sad2More often than not, the primary reason why an organization implements an elearning program is to either rectify a problem, or to avoid problems. In either case, the idea is to combat these problems with education.

To avoid having issues, companies spend a lot of money to create training, set-up learning management systems, and hire a staff of instructional designers to create the content.

But when it is all said-and-done, how will you know if the elearning worked? I suppose one simple way would be to see if the problem(s) still exist. However, that top-level analysis is one dimensional. For example, it doesn’t lend any insight as to why problems still exist.

If the desired end result is not being met, the actually cause could be a variety of factors. From my experience implementing elearning programs, the three major ones include:

  1. Bad Course Content
  2. Low Attendance Numbers
  3. Poorly Communicated Objectives

Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail.

Bad Course Content

At first glance this looks a bit silly. But the truth is that many times elearning is not effective when the content is bad. This can mean it is the wrong information, not enough information, presented in an ineffective manner, or dated.

The interesting thing here is that content can actually start as good, then eventually become bad and therefore ineffective. For example, the content could become dated over time through policy and infrastructure changes. If people are learning dated information, then the probability that problems will arise certainly increases.

Course content should always be monitored for accuracy. To ensure accuracy from the beginning, it is a good idea to assemble a team of subject matter experts (SMEs).

Low Attendance Numbers

“If you build it – they will come” – not really!

Just because you have completed your course and published it to your LMS, it doesn’t mean that people will watch it. Chances are that the majority of people won’t take the content because they are too busy.

To overcome this hurdle, there are some strategies you can implement. First, before you even start creating courses, you should assemble a group of critical key stakeholders.

These stakeholders generally hold higher positions in an organization – they have influence. In other words: if they buy-in, then others will be more likely to buy-in.

When creating communications for your elearning courses, they should come from the key stakeholders (again, from the high level). Speaking of communications, an effective communication plan should be put in place so learners are well aware of what training is coming their way.

In the end, it all comes down to consistent communication so as to educate people as to why they should care.

Poorly Communicated Objectives

Writing effective objectives is arguably the hardest part in any elearning program.

There are multiple objectives to consider. There is the high level objective for the entire initiative (usually tied to a business metric), the course objectives, and even individual lesson objectives.

Each objective should help to satisfy an objective above it. For instance, lesson objectives help to satisfy a course objective. Course objectives satisfy a program objective.

Problems arise when objectives are poorly communicated and aren’t coherent within and across courses. Ultimately this results in people being confused because they aren’t clear on the key takeaways.

No one ever said that creating effective elearning is easy. There are many moving parts that should be managed throughout the development, delivery, and post-delivery life-cycles.

Luckily, this is an industry that is constantly learning, evolving, and helping one another. If you have questions, you’ll certainly be able to find someone who has been in your shoes before!


Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Let's Talk! | Twitter

0 Responses

  1. I am trying to do this E learning class and your right about poorly communicated objectives. There is a front page, to the ELearning course and the teachers should put all the material to read and assignments to accomplish, on the front page, so its clear for everyone to understand but instead, these idiots put the material and assignments into these places that you would never look

    I’m confused because the setup of E Learning is shit. What type of idiot would put material in a place where no one could find it?

    So stupid.

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