Top 11 Corporate Mistakes Made In eLearning
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Avoid These Common Mistakes In Corporate eLearning

Digital technology has introduced a new concept and a unique style that extends far beyond the confines of the classroom and affects all aspects of life. Recent developments promise that technology will play an even greater role in years to come. While eLearning is no longer the “new kid on the block” in terms of information-sharing, academic classes, or corporate training, its availability and acceptance does not necessarily guarantee that all eLearning is equally effective.

There is no doubt that people have individualized learning styles. It is well-documented that some people respond to the spoken word, while others are visually oriented and learn better through sensory experience. Others are hands-on and experiential, and still, others need reinforcement through two or more methods to retain ideas and digest information.

But, whatever the optimal learning style, there is increasing evidence that eLearning will take hold to an even greater extent than it is being employed now, especially in the corporate world. With that in mind, I have identified some pitfalls that may contribute to a less-than-successful virtual training experience. Here are what I consider the top 11 corporate mistakes made in corporate eLearning programs and some suggestions about ways to correct them:

1. Misjudging The Audience

Just as you should identify the target audience if you’re writing a book, developing a new automobile, or designing a cereal package, you’ll want to know the demographics and the mindset of your audience.

Does your audience consist of management personnel? Do they know and understand the technical terms you’ll be using? Are you addressing corporate new hires eager to learn the ropes and get started? Will they appreciate a light-hearted approach? Assess your audience well in advance, and tailor your training to their needs.

2. Being Irrelevant

Times change. Motivation changes. New ideas take hold, and even in technical fields, new advances alter perceptions and ways of doing business. In today’s fast-moving world, change comes fast and furious, and it is sometimes difficult to track. It’s vital to provide both the participant and the organization with timely and immediately actionable training.

If you’re the designer of the training, strive to stay ahead of the curve. Everyone involved will all reap the benefits.

3. Playing It Safe

Any instructor’s goal should be to challenge the learner, which is true in corporate training as it is in the primary grades or grad school. Quick quizzes are great—especially with online learning—but don't make them too easy.

If your participants aren't challenged to think, they won't be encouraged to pay attention, and they'll be less likely to retain the information you’re giving them. If you use quizzes, make them meaningful and challenging.

4. Missing The Point

The underlying goals of all corporate training are to expand knowledge, add to understanding, boost performance, improve skills, and contribute to each participant's future success. If your content doesn’t accomplish most or all of those objectives, the training can be viewed as ineffective.

View any training in relation to an overarching corporate plan for skills improvement; revamp any training that falls short.

5. Overwhelming The Participant

Be prepared and stick to key messages, typically no more than five, that you have identified for your training. Avoid an "everything but the kitchen sink" approach. If you offer a lot of information hoping that the takeaway will be worthwhile to each participant in a different way, chances are you, and they, will be disappointed.

As in most things, it’s better to keep your participants wanting to come back for more than to send them away with "brain ache" and too many ideas to digest.

6. Misdirecting The Message

When you create training content, the Instructional Design should align content with key messaging. That key messaging should align with the participant’s reality.

Be sure to include any:

  • Necessary processes and procedures
  • Technical data when it’s important
  • Resources that participants can access, download, and print for later reference
  • Sources when citing statistics or theoretical concepts

When eLearning messaging is too broad or strays off topic, participants can become confused or disinterested.

7. Putting Too Much "You" In Your Presentation

Although you may be an expert in your field, be aware that your participants are likely not. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, be mindful of your participants’ knowledge level and learning styles.

Everyone absorbs information differently, and you should resist designing training modules only to your preferred style. Instead, incorporate a mix of media that span learning styles. These can include PDFs, articles, videos, and gamification.

8. Forgetting About The Buy-In

While eLearning may be more economical than onsite or in-person training programs, it still requires the support and understanding of upper-level management. That's one side of the coin, whether it's part of an in-house educational effort or directed to outsiders. The financial commitment is not inconsequential, and everyone involved should expect a return on that investment.

Finally, whether eLearning is required or voluntary, each participant needs to commit fully to the training.

9. Being Disorganized Or Unprepared

Nothing will encourage snoozes among your digital learners more than haphazardly prepared training or equipment that doesn't work correctly during live presentations like webinars. Understand that time is valuable for everyone involved.

Ensure your training content is on point. Stick to a schedule: If it's a live presentation, test the equipment in advance, organize your notes, and launch into the subject with minimal preamble. You’re delivering a learning experience, so be prepared and professional.

10. Not Validating The Content

Unless you are the lone Subject Matter Expert on the topic, it's essential to have knowledgeable people review content and offer feedback. A second opinion is always helpful to resolve inconsistencies and reinforce key ideas.

If there is any potential for incorrect interpretation or application, or if a product claim is involved, seek a legal opinion or the advice of an acknowledged expert.

11. Assuming That Material Is Correct And Current

It’s crucial to deliver material that is current or still is applicable. While there is evergreen content, ALL content is generally not evergreen. Before beginning a training campaign, review the material to ensure it’s current and relevant. If the training module has a “best by” date, check the data and information it contains to ensure that no updates are necessary.

In the case of ongoing programs, it can be wise to institute a review and retention policy for all training materials. Update and refresh the training materials regularly to keep the presentation fresh and appealing. Always make changes that reflect new findings in your field and recent marketplace trends.

Added Bonus—Add Some Fun

While corporate training is serious business, be sure to include elements of fun along the way. Doing so is a proven way to help learners retain the message. Team competitions, drawings, badges, and prizing are a few examples of fun components that can reinforce your messaging and keep participants engaged.

Meet Mistakes Head On

No eLearning program is immune from mistakes. But when they happen, learn from them and incorporate measures to prevent them from happening in the future. Use them to improve your training program. Encourage feedback from your participants and your design team to minimize mistakes and maximize learning.

Have you experienced these or other missteps in your eLearning program? I’d like to know more about how you handled them and if your efforts were successful.

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