Top 11 eLearning Design and Development Mistakes
There are so many things to consider when you're developing an eLearning course. From worrying about the core content and developing an effective eLearning strategy to ensuring that the design is in-line with your organization's brand and message, even the most simple and straightforward eLearning project can become overwhelming. As such, there's plenty of room to make mistakes along the way, whether this is your first eLearning project or your hundredth.
- Losing sight of the learning goals
The learning goals should always be in the forefront of your mind. Each and every element of the eLearning course, from the content itself to the seemingly insignificant graphics you use on the final page, should serve those goals. If you lose sight of the learning goals and eLearning objectives, then you run the risk of producing a disorganized or ineffective deliverable. Have a clear idea of what the learners expects to take away from the eLearning course and what information you need to convey in order to make that happen. I highly encourage you to read the How To Write Aims and Objectives for eLearning Courses article.
- Developing deliverables that don't challenge the learner
Creating an eLearning course that simply isn't difficult enough to challenge the learner is one of the biggest eLearning mistakes. Learners have to feel as though they are being pushed beyond their knowledge boundaries, as though they are actually gaining experience from the eLearning course. Otherwise, they won't be able to see the real value of participating in that eLearning course, and won't be motivated to actually learn.
- Not having a clearly defined idea of your target audience
Have a keen sense of who you are creating the eLearning course. What are their interests? What is their experience level? What is level of education? Not taking the time to research your target audience will lead to courses that lack that engagement factor. Not to mention that the end user simply won't be able to relate the deliverable and won't be able so the value in the content being offered. You may find valuable the 6 Key Questions To Effectively Analyze Your eLearning Course Audiences article.
- Lack of effective assessment tools
Offering information to the learner, whether it is in the form of graphics, text, or audio clips, without periodically assessing their knowledge is a major eLearning mistake. These assessments, such as exams and section quizzes, enable you to determine if they are actually absorbing the content and retaining it. It also provides them with the opportunity to summarize and recap the information, so that they can more effectively commit it to long-term memory. I highly encourage you to read the How to design assessments that promote the learning process article.
- Creating text-heavy pages that lead to cognitive overload
Cognitive overload occurs when a learner's mind is flooded with an abundance of information. Including text-heavy pages in your deliverable will undoubtedly lead to cognitive overload. Be concise and clear when writing content. Don't include irrelevant information and break more complex concepts down into small, more digestible, bullet points or paragraphs. You may also find valuable the Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design article.
- Integrating an abundance of graphics or images that distract the user
As is the case with text, including too many graphics or images can also hinder the learning process. Integrating a myriad of images, especially if they aren't necessarily relevant, will only serve to distract the learner. Limit the number of visual elements you use and ensure that they are high quality and on-topic.
- Creating eLearning courses that are difficult to navigate
Navigability is key when developing an eLearning course. Even if the quality of the content is high and the graphics are spot-on, if a learner cannot easily navigate through the eLearning course they won't achieve the learning goals. They will simply click away. It's important to ensure that all links are active, and that each page can be accessed with ease.
- Not paying attention to the quality of the content
While the visual aspects of your eLearning course should be a top priority, so should the quality of the content you are providing for learners. Learners should always feel as though every piece of content you include is of some benefit to them. Errors and poorly written content can take away from the quality of the eLearning experience make the learner doubt the value of the eLearning course, and can even diminish the credibility of your organization. I highly encourage you to read the 8 Ways Your eLearning Content is Losing article.
- Leaving out interactive elements that create a more engaging experience
Videos, audio clips, real life scenarios, and background music are all perfect examples of interactive elements that can make the eLearning experience more effective. If you omit these powerful tools when you are developing your interactive eLearning strategy, you run the risk of creating eLearning courses that bore the learners, instead of making them feel like they are active participant in the learning process.
- Not utilizing a variety of different learning approaches and eLearning technologies
It's essential to include a number of different learning approaches into your eLearning strategy. The same applies to technologies. As eLearning professionals, we have to constantly be aware of emerging technologies and tools that will help us to provide better educational experiences. Likewise, we must stay up-to-date with learning approaches, instructional design models, and theories that will give us the ability to create immersive, engaging, and informative online learning environments for all users.
- Developing an eLearning course that is too complicated to update and maintain
We've all seen eLearning courses or modules that were visually stunning, packed with valuable information, and 100% effective when it came to conveying the core message and ideas. However, in terms of updatability, it simply fell short. Designing eLearning courses that are beautiful and meaningful is great, but they also have to easy to maintain in the long run. So, keep it simple and always ensure that you (or your client) will be able to easily update the deliverable when the need arises.
Keeping these tips on-hand when developing your next eLearning course can help you to create successful eLearning courses, even if you may be relatively new to the world of eLearning and instructional design. On the other hand, for those of you who are more experienced eLearning professionals, I hope that this list gives you the opportunity to fine tune your deliverables by steering clear of these top eLearning mistakes.
Also, you are welcome to check the 10 Common Mistakes In The Development Of An eLearning Course for additional information.
Now that you've found about the things you'll want to avoid when designing and developing an eLearning course, you may want to consider reading the Ultimate eLearning Course Design Checklist, which features an in depth eLearning course checklist that will help you get your eLearning courses ready for roll-out.