eLearning Course Hierarchy Of Needs: 5 Key eLearning Challenges

Hierarchy Of 5 Key eLearning Challenges 

Analyzing our recent consulting projects on optimizing eLearning processes I realized that all of them have some common denominators. eLearning challenges faced by our clients could be brought to several extensive conclusions. Here is some kind of hierarchical approach on taking 5 key eLearning challenges into account while thinking about improving eLearning processes in the organization.

Maslow - eLearning - Hierarchy Of 5 Key eLearning Challenges

Let's take a look at all of these 5 layers in bigger detail:

  1. Availability.
    In every single consulting project we found some business spaces within the organization in which employees (eLearning users) were completely unsatisfied with the availability of eLearning courses. There were many reasons for that; low bandwidth at the ends of the network, lack of constant and easy access to the computer in the workplace, media inadequate to the workplace, etc. Technical availability is the foundation of the eLearning process. If it doesn't work? Well, nothing else is as important. Even the best of breed eLearning courses are useless when learners have a problem with either reaching to them or using them smoothly.
  2. Quality.
    I am not talking about Instructional Design here - in this discussion I take for granted that it is good. Our experience leads us to point out eLearning challenges with much more fundamental understanding of an eLearning course’s quality. Every training process should be founded on accurate, up-to-date information. This information should be consistent among all information channels used within an organization. Every eLearning course should be not only double-checked within the Quality Assurance (QA) process while being created, but also constantly curated while being used. In such learning material there is no place for mistakes, errors, and outdated information.
  3. Aesthetics.
    The biggest problem when talking about aesthetics of eLearning courses is taking into account the personal preferences (subjective judgment) of the project’s sponsors. They used to think that their preferences should be treated as a benchmark for the whole organization; but considering that the target group is huge and not homogeneous, this is of course not right. We try to convince our business partners that it is better to have a visual eLearning design which seems just OK to everybody than to design a learning solution which is loved by one part of the target group and hated by another part. The visual layer of the course should build a positive learning climate reinforcing the process and not distracting learners with unnecessary multimedia elements.
  4. Engagement.
    Many clients narrow their thinking about eLearners’ engagement to providing them with clickable elements (pop-ups, interactive animations), exercises, quizzes, etc.  Some of them think about simple gamification methods like earning points or collect badges during the eLearning process. First of all: These elements should be used deliberately and not mechanically. An eLearning course with 10 interactions is not twice as good as a course with 5 interactions. Interactive elements should be treated as a way of building flow during the eLearning process (see Flow In eLearning: How To Create A Flow In An eLearning Course?), and not only as a kinesthetic way of preventing boredom in an eLearning course. Secondly: eLearners will become more engaged when we propose tasks or challenges to be completed in collaboration or in competition with other learners.
  5. Human Touch.
    The biggest eLearning challenge that we see in every single training process is to transfer declarative competence gained during learning intervention to the workplace. Trainees return from the best workshops or complete excellent eLearning courses and... nothing changes in their professional activities.  There are many reasons for that, but the most important is lack of support. To make an eLearning process successful we have to take care of eLearners. Their supervisors should make a contract with them. Such a contract should emphasize the importance of eLearning intervention; show that the manager will not only demand new behaviors on the job, but also will support eLearners in improving them. eLearning facilitators (remote trainers) should also help eLearners to reach their learning goals.

Summary

  • Availability is the most important issue in eLearning process; if it fails, everything goes wrong.
  • When you are sure that your eLearning course is fully available, you have to double-check for errors.
  • Aesthetics are important when you secure both availability and accurateness of your eLearning course.
  • Interactive elements (both inside and outside of the eLearning course) influence engagement of eLearners.
  • If you want to create an effective eLearning course, you have to support your learners.
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