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5 Reasons why traditional (aka BORING) eLearning doesn’t work

Boring eLearning is dead

Businesses started to adopt eLearning in the late 90's and whilst the eLearning landscape has changed drastically in such a short space of time, unfortunately, some eLearning providers are STILL putting their learners through incredibly boring online training and leaving them feeling like the poor girl above.

You may be wondering what I mean by 'traditional eLearning'; I'm talking about those horrible PDFs that some employers send to staff, branded as 'eLearning', that seem to go on forever and are awfully dull, you know the ones that contain 100,000 words (maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration) and have awful stock imagery or no imagery at all? In a desperate attempt to add at least some interactivity to their eLearning, some providers have added 'previous' and 'next' buttons to their courses and then claimed that their courses are interactive, but learners are still submitted to the same old text-heavy, boring stuff (Calling it eLearning shouldn't be allowed).

So why doesn't it work? 

Apart from the obvious reason being that it is boring, here are 5 other reasons why it just doesn’t work...

1) Poor retention rates 

Providers that offer these types of online training still fail to overcome the huge pitfall of classroom learning - the forgetting curve. According to Ebbinhgaus' Forgetting Curve Theory, we can lose up to 90% of learning within in a week and short-term learning is rarely a goal for employers (At least it shouldn't be), they want learners to remember the training and create behavioural change that boosts productivity. Traditional boring eLearning offers nothing but a box-tick exercise, which once it's over, is forgotten about.

2) Passive and uninvolved 

Good, interactive eLearning actively teaches you. It grabs your attention, it engages you, it takes your hand and guides you through the material. Poor eLearning does none of this. It passively presents you with pages and pages of dull, dry information and … well, that’s it.

Think of it as the difference between learning by reading a leaflet and learning from a teacher, a teacher whose attention is solely on you. There’s no comparison. The teacher leads the way but places you in the driving seat. This greater level involvement is key to a greater learning experience.

"Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I learn" - Benjamin Franklin

3) Incredibly tedious 

Flicking or clicking through pages and pages of text becomes tedious very quickly and learners are much more likely to be distracted by their phones, colleagues or emails. eLearning should be engaging and varied throughout to keep learners on their toes, this, in turn, should also stop them from becoming so easily distracted.

4) It's not evaluated properly 

If you're using traditional eLearning, you're probably spending more time on delivering the training than evaluating the effectiveness and the learning results of the training. Whilst traditional eLearning might be able to successfully communicate a few facts throughout the course it's unlikely it will stand the test of time. Have your learners actually learned and taken in what you wanted them to?

The road after effective eLearning should look something like this and is based on the Kirkpatrick model of evaluation, there are 5 key points:

  • Knowledge: the learner now knows the information 
  • Skill: they should now be able to perform what they learned from the training 
  • Attitude (and this is key): the training has persuaded them that this IS the right thing to do and it is worthwhile
  • Confidence: the learner has the confidence to do it 
  • Commitment: they will carry the task out 

5) Inflexible and unresponsive

We now live in a world where everything is at our fingertips and more and more people are doing things 'on-the-go'. Nobody wants to be restricted to completing an eLearning course solely on a desktop, eLearning needs to be easily accessible anywhere and on any device. If it fails to meet the needs of a modern workforce, it will fail to engage.

The answer? 

Organisations should be implementing eLearning that has genuine meaning behind it, not just a generic 'tick-box' course. It should engage the learner, provoke thoughts and most importantly create a positive behavioural change.

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