Let’s face it – online learning, in general, has a pretty bad reputation.  From the woeful completion rates of MOOCs, to the massive text overdoses, to death via the ‘next’ button, there are a lot of reasons that online learning has developed a bad reputation.  The good news is, however, that if this is the case within your organisation – it doesn’t have to stay that way.  The bad news is, though, that you can’t fix something that you don’t understand – so here’s a list of the main reasons that online learning may have a bad reputation, and what you should do to remedy them:

Your learning strategy is askew

It is every L&D Manager’s dream that their organisation invests in its best people by offering them the most opportunities for learning and development.  In fact, that dream may even form part of their learning strategy.  However, unfortunately the reality is that training can often be used as a stick, rather than a carrot, for poor performing employees who need help to make up for a myriad of performance or behavioural issues.  As a result, employees see being ‘sent to training’ as a punishment for poor performance, and, not surprisingly, they develop a bad attitude towards the training.

Remedy: This issue can be solved by creating, and communicating, a learning strategy that aims to offer training as a reward, not a punishment. Be very clear with managers that, for example, sales training should, in the first instance, be used as a tool to further develop their top performing sales staff, as opposed to a tool to try to get the worst performers up to scratch.  

Your learners aren’t interested in the course content

The most common retaliation from learning designers who have been told that learners aren’t interested in their courses is: ‘But the content was so boring!’ Whilst it’s true that it may be especially difficult to make compliance-based training interesting, it is still possible and something that you need to invest it to ensure that the reputation of your online learning doesn’t stay in the gutter.  

A related problem to the boring-content problem is that of relevance.  Even if the course content is inherently interesting to your learners, they may perceive it as boring if they don’t see it as immediately relevant to their job.

Remedy: It is possible to make even the most mind-numbingly boring content engaging through the use of storytelling and emotions, in combination with a strong visual appeal and even gamification.  Try as much as you can to limit the amount of text on the screen, and replace it with images and interactions.

And as for the relevance issue? Ensure that you deliver your training exactly when your learners need it, through the use of Just-in-Time training; something that is made possible with mLearning.  

You’ve forgotten how busy your learners are

Even if you deliver the most engaging course ever, it’s unlikely that today’s extremely overworked and busy learners will want to sit through an hour of it.  As much as you may want, or your managers may need, your learners to know everything-there-is-to-know about a particular topic, you need to design your learning in such a way that it can be delivered quickly, or at the very least chunked and delivered in palatable intervals.  If you don’t, but you simultaneously force your learners to finish the course, they will start hating the training (and you) very quickly.

Remedy:  Giving learners the ability to learn a new concept in small chunks via micro-learning is a great way to ensure that you don’t take up as much of their time.  It also serves to re-inforce the learner over a longer period of time, which is ideal for behavioural change.  Micro-learning is via platforms such as this one by Teazl.

Has online learning got a bad reputation in your organisation? Save it now by changing your learning strategy, delivering Just-in-Time training, and breaking your learning up into palatable chunks via micro-learning.  

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