Migrating from a traditional learning environment to an eLearning environment is not always smooth. A lot of hurdles need to be toppled during the cross-over and, of course, many hearts need to be won. Despite best intentions, several eLearning developers make these common 5 mistakes. In this article, we examine each and determine how to avoid them early in the eLearning process.
eLearning has advanced plenty in these past few years. Despite the time-tested and proven methods of eLearning design and development, most of our peers still repeat the same mistakes. Let’s look at each proactively.
1. Using eLearning development tools that don’t fit the situation
So, you are still using the feature in your eLearning development tool that converts the entire PowerPoint content to eLearning. Before you go “rapid”, know that this is the least favorable rapid eLearning development feature! Use it sparingly and only in emergencies! This feature can seriously turn your eLearning program into a content disaster!
Dissect your eLearning content into similar groups. Group images, video, and audio files and text for use in constructing your eLearning course. Also, try to fit all of the above in a storyboard.
Determine how the eLearning program will be used. Does it have synchronous elements or not? As a rule of thumb, choose an eLearning development tool that enables you to reach a worldwide audience. Watch out for file size limitations, an extremely annoying shortcoming in some eLearning tools. These force you to edit your content (audio and video) into a smaller size, thereby robbing its meaning altogether!
Evaluate the features in your selected Learning and Talent Development Platform with an experienced eLearning developer. Create a mock eLearning program and test with your team before committing to it.
2. Watch out for Audio and Video issues
No eLearning program is categorized as “interactive” if it does not include audio and video sources. And there is nothing worse than non-functional audio and video files during the training session. Clarity and background noise in both cases are the main complaints of eLearners. What can you do to improve the quality of your multimedia? For starters, choose the right narrator, male or female, for your audio files. Test the narration with your team. Choose a voice that sounds relaxed and speaks clearly.
Next come the tools. Use a high-quality microphone, positioned properly (normally 8-10″ away). Use a script. Print it out in a larger font (14-16 point) and leave plenty of white space. It is usually better to stand up while recording narration. Also, using silence as a break between takes enables you to edit the audio far more easily. It is always advisable to use a closed-captioning authoring tool if it is available.
Many of us are fond of inserting videos from YouTube or Vimeo, but beware of the downside of this strategy. The URL can change unexpectedly, or the publisher can change the content. So what’s your best bet with multimedia? With cheaper video and audio editing tools out there, try to create your own audio and video for your eLearning programs. This way, your audience will not get the chance to point out outdated videos used from public domains.
3. Motivation Issues
Best practices in eLearning tell us that the shorter a segment, the greater the engagement and the motivation to go on to the next segment. According to extant research, as eLearners, we lose our attention span after ten minutes!
So what can you do to prolong this engagement? Strategically introduce videos that are 5 -7 minutes in length. End the segment with an interactive exercise that offers music, points, and feedback. Also, self-guided segments, where the learner decides how to proceed through the content, are also a great idea to prolong seat time.
Graphics and photos that allow learner interaction, like hotspots, exploding diagrams, drag and drop and touch points that balloon into more information are also hot features. Animation also triggers curiosity. The key is to avoid using stock images and animations. Strive to create your own. And most importantly, make sure all interactivities are tied closely to the content.
4. The Content Overload Syndrome
You may have great interactivity, but once your crowd a page with text, your learners will feel overwhelmed. Keep content trimmed to 5 to 7 lines per page. Provide “text-breaks” through multimedia and reinforcement activities. Only include the need-to-know information by reserving the nice-to-know for the references section.
5. Failure to Follow-up
A common mistake we see in most eLearning programs is that the program itself is available to learners, but when mentors are needed to answer questions after the program is completed, they are nowhere to be found. It’s understandable to think that your eLearning program has enough feedback to satisfy the learning needs of your trainees. But more often, they have other technical and non-course related issues that they will need to ask. Go beyond the traditional evaluation to provide this extra bit of support.
Ask your learners the following questions post-program:
- Did you have any issues gaining access to the course once you were registered and received instructions?
– How long did the materials take to load?
– Did you experience any technical issues during the course?
- How was the audio?
– What equipment were you using? A mobile device? A laptop?
Following up for this extra feedback helps you improve your courses and also keeps your learners asking for more courses from you!
eLearning is not a create-post-forget venture! A key activity of eLearning providers should be following-up to satisfy future learners even better.
eLearning design and development is a learning process. Every new instructional designer will run into problems. The goal of this post is to provide you with the benefits of current research and long experience so that you can evaluate and improve your eLearning offerings while avoiding some common pitfalls.