and link performance to organizational and individual success.
Our company has been involved in developing eLearning since 2004, when we developed our first full-featured eLearning module. Since then, adoption of eLearning has been slow as companies and organizations have continued to invest in less efficient traditional classroom-style or lecture style training, with predictably poor results. Recently, we have witnessed an increase in the adoption rate of eLearning as a primary tool in training and development; but often the planning and implementation are tactical, and little consideration is given to the most important aspect of learning, comprehension. We thought we would take a moment out to share our insights into eLearning implementation pitfalls.
Over the past several years we have observed many RFPs from companies and organizations and in almost every circumstance, the RFP were often primarily designed around the purchase of a Learning Management System (LMS). Content and comprehension are generally viewed as an afterthought.
eLearning content, as we have witnessed in many programs across Canada are often a patchwork of legacy content. Programs often include legacy web based content, video snippets, documents, PDFs and PowerPoint. In the rare circumstances where organizations are producing content they often do not have the expertise to product content for today's media savvy sophisticated professional worker.
Most organizations do not enforce a vibrant testing and reporting eLearning process. In some circumstances this may be a result of mixed union and non-union environments, in others it’s a lack of commitment to developing a comprehensive learning strategy and in still other circumstances it is the result of not including learners in the learning strategy development process.
Many compulsory or compliance eLearning courses are simple and lack any creativity, and most skilled workers try and skip the content and go directly to the questions to get through the process with as little focus as possible. Most will cheat on the test portion given the chance, since there is little in the content to challenge them and programs often lack incentive to achieve and opportunities to share knowledge are virtually non-existent.
eLearning technology, while generally sophisticated from an administration and reporting point of view are rarely utilized to their full extent to understand the learner experience. Administrators stick to the same basic reporting criteria, pass/fail, completion score, name and department. Often learning programs are under-resourced and performance in learning programs is not tied directly to organizational and individual success.
Many eLearning programs fail to incorporate the learner in the process. The system often does not include gathering consistent learner feedback on the experience in terms of their engagement or their ability to share knowledge among peers, as is the case in traditional learning environments. This is often a result of designing eLearning as an adjunct to existing training programs. They are thought of as a cost cutting measure rather than a new form of learning that is persistent.
Leaders in management groups, teams and committees often see and understand the value of eLearning and create mandates for implementation but implementation becomes a logistical or tactical implementation plan rather than a larger strategy linked to performance. Cost reduction becomes the number one driving factor in eLearning design and implementation rather than comprehension and organizational success.
Most organizations take a very traditional approach to a learning process by not championing creative "risk-taking" in the design and implementation of eLearning programs. Little in the way of testing unique programs, lateral learning opportunities, or innovation is occurring in eLearning, primarily due to cost. Creating management teams that consider efficacy as well as creativity, can have a profound effect on individual performance and organizational success.
Failure is an important part of learning. In most eLearning curricula and modules, the possibility of failure is either absent or minimized. Creating learning from failure can be realized by creating higher threshold achievement levels, more complex information, more difficult questions, random test questions or checkpoint questions that allows the learner to gauge their understanding. Do not be afraid to challenge the learner but create additional incentives to succeed as well.
These thoughts and observations are designed to challenge thinking on current eLearning strategies. Just implementing eLearning is not enough …organizations and businesses need to implement learning strategies that are tied to individual and organizational performance results.