Taking Tech Too Far? 5 Ways Online Training Can Be Destroyed Due To Technology Distractors

Taking Tech Too Far? 5 Ways Online Training Can Be Destroyed Due To Technology Distractors
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Summary: Technology enables remote, convenient, affordable corporate training. But can it also be a barrier to eLearning? And if so, how do we fix that? In this article, I share 5 ways that technology can become a distraction in online training plus some tips to help you keep your employees focused on the task-at-hand.

Discussing Technology Distractors In Online Training

There’s a popular meme that shows a room full of people, except everyone is staring at their phones. The 'moral' is how technology keeps us from human interaction and connection. This denouncement is usually countered logically – you’re not talking to the people around you, but you’re still talking to people. It’s just that they’re 'in your phone'. And more recently, the meme is replied with an old-timey black-and-white picture of a train carriage. It’s full of people, and all their noses are buried in newspapers. It seems that the phenomenon isn’t new – just the tools. How does this apply to interrupted learning? Here are the top 5 technology distractors in eLearning vying for your employees’ attention.

5 Top Tech Distractions To Avoid

1. Video-Sharing Platforms

There’s a joke about ancient cat worship. Egyptians had cat gods. We have cat videos, and you can get lost in them for hours. The Catsu Incident shows how serious people are about their online pet habit. But it doesn’t stop at cute and cuddly pets. You use video-sharing platforms to offer moment-of-need support to your employees. For example, recommending online training tutorials or demo videos for product knowledge. But things can quickly spiral out of control. Set some ground rules for your employees or embed video in your online training course (with permission) so that they aren’t tempted. They’re more likely to stray into viral video territory if they have unlimited access to YouTube and other online platforms.

2. Messaging Apps

Parents and grandparents often accuse youngsters of being antisocial because their eyes are glued to their screens. And yet in many ways, they’re being more social than ever. The bulk of the online time is spent in chat rooms and groups. You look at what others are saying, then you talk back. You watch for their response to your response. It goes on and on. Texting is the biggest technology distractor culprit, because of its immediacy. Besides, users are often conversing with lots of people simultaneously, both at individual and group level. It’s top-tier multitasking and takes time away from online training. You can prevent this by making the bulk of your online training course accessible offline.

This minimizes the temptation to log on and lose track. There are even LMSs that support downloadable online training content and offline mobile. If the activity does involve social interaction, create guidelines for employees to follow, and spark the discussion in a closed group setting. They’re less likely to stray into the IM if the entire team is collaborating and exchanging tips in the private group.

3. Memes And Gifs

Social media, in general, is one of the repeat offenders when it comes to technology distractors. It can suck hours out of your week. The continuous scrolling features on blogs and social media feeds will keep you there forever. You won’t even realize how much time has passed. But there are specific aspects that catch your eye. When someone shares a meme or gif, you’ll be pulled in. You’ll share it too, then keep refreshing to see how others are responding. Some online training course developers have even included these engaging (but distracting) visuals in their online training design. However, with only a few notable exceptions, memes and gifs only clutter your online training course and diminish its value. Not to mention, its professionalism.

4. Audio Clutter

A lot of people use headphones and earbuds as a shield. This happens a lot with introverted employees. When they feel unsafe, overwhelmed, or socially anxious, their ear-attachments psychologically discourage people from talking to them. They may not even be playing music. At the other end, we use music as a pacifier, to soothe nerves or create ‘white noise’ that helps us concentrate. It blocks out other sounds, helping us focus. However, research shows instrumental music does this better.

When your music selection has lyrics, you could start to sing along, breaking your attention span. You’ll think about your emotional connection to the song. Soon, you’ll Google the artist, open their Wikipedia page, look up the lyrics, or pull up the video. There go the next five hours of your day thanks to tech distractions. #LateralNavigation. If you do want to include immersive audio in online training, pick something unobtrusive that ties into the subject matter or tracks that evoke the desired mood.

5. Self-Guided Exploration

I know, self-guided exploration is a good thing in most cases. It gives employees the power to learn from their mistakes and pursue their own online training passions. However, in the tech realm, exploring on their own can make them veer off online training course. Instead of studying a compliance issue or researching products, they venture down the rabbit hole of pop culture or start checking their Facebook page to see the latest posts. This is why it’s crucial to emphasize the importance of sticking to the plan and giving employees some guidance regarding tech distractions. Provide them with a list of suitable online training resources and follow-up with activities to ensure they’ve absorbed the information.

You can even turn it into a group corporate eLearning project so that everyone holds their co-workers accountable. They must research the topic autonomously, then share their ideas with their peers to arrive at a solution. They’re less likely to be distracted by personal interests online if they know their team is counting on them.


Online training removes geographic boundaries and improves employee immersion. But it also you open your employees up to a web of technology distractors. It can make your lessons unnecessarily long and no longer convenient. When your staff is knee deep in viral videos, and memes, they’re less likely to connect with the online training content. Use wordless music as your study soundtrack and stay away from Wikis without rules.

Are you ready to venture down the ID career path? Download Breaking Into The Industry: Become An Instructional Designer And Master The LXD Fundamentals for more tips to launch your ID career and create immersive eLearning experiences.