elearning_failDigital learning environments, like e-learning, online training, and massive open online courses (MOOCs), have without a doubt been the biggest influencers on corporate training practice over the past several years. According to recent statistics, 80% of organizations offer online training and companies that have adopted e-learning have realized significant benefits, including 60% reduction in training time.

But while traditional e-learning may offer improvements over instructor-led training, from a learner’s perspective, it still leaves much to be desired. As this Learn Dash infographic shows, e-learners become frustrated by many aspects of their courses, including:

  • Finding lists of procedures and regulations tedious (76%)
  • Getting bored with the courses (38%)
  • Hating it when the pace is too fast or too slow (37%)

In the previous post, we explored how MOOCs can improve on instructor-led training and traditional e-learning in terms of saving organizations both time and money. But of course the ultimate goal of training is have your employees learn something, which requires keeping them engaged.

Here are nine reasons your existing e-learning courses are failing and how MOOCs can help.

They’re boring.

E-learning is attributed with being more engaging than listening to (or sleeping through) a lecture, but clicking “Next-Next-Next” on a PowerPoint presentation isn’t exactly a cognitive challenge. Gamification, simulations, interactive video, bite-sized content, interaction with fellow learners—these are just a couple of features of MOOCs that make them more engaging than traditional e-learning.

They attempt to replicate instructor-led training courses.

The absolutely worst approach to designing a digital course is to take the content from an instructor-led training course, put it online, and call it done. Many e-learning courses fail to take advantage of the huge potential benefits of online learning. In contrast, the best MOOCs incorporate a variety of technologies for content creation, curation, and distribution, as well as communication and collaboration, which greatly enhance the effectiveness of digital learning environments.

They don’t allow learners to determine the pace or order of learning.

One hand-me-down that e-learning inherited from instructor-led training is the idea that a certain course should take one or two or 40 hours to complete. Often, these time constraints are fairly strict, with little opportunity for learners to take control. However people learn at different paces, and employees in an organization all have different levels of knowledge going into the courses. The MOOC format allows employees to move fluidly throughout each course, spending more time on the content they need and skipping or testing out of what they already know.

They aren’t interactive.

Traditional e-learning provides one level of interaction, between the learner and the computer. But a wealth of data has shown the importance of learning through interaction with others (often referred to as social or informal learning). By using various social and communication platforms, MOOCs provide two additional levels of interaction: learner-instructor and learner-learner.

They aren’t relevant.

Both instructor-led training and traditional e-learning are primarily used to deliver just-in-case training. However, this is one of the main reasons corporate training is ineffective: it isn’t relevant to what employees are doing at the time. Relevance is a top motivator for learners, and the lack of relevance is one of the top causes of frustration. By using MOOCs to provide performance support and just-in-time training, L&D departments can ensure that training sessions are relevant and that information is more likely to be remembered.

They don’t involve real-world problem-solving or decision-making.

According to Learn Dash, more than half of e-learners want their training to involve real-life situations and decision-making scenarios. Unfortunately, too much e-learning still takes the form of a content dump rather than an environment where employees can practice new skills before applying them on the job. As flexible social learning environments, MOOCs provide opportunities for collaboration, project-based learning, and real-world problem-solving.

They use summative rather than formative assessments.

How many of your e-learning courses still consist of a PowerPoint deck followed by a multiple choice quiz? The first problem is that this is boring. The second problem is that this type of assessment doesn’t translate into or measure real learning. People who learn digitally prefer to be tested throughout a course rather than taking a single test at the end—learners find this more challenging and thus more engaging. MOOCs, which are based around the concept of bite-sized learning activities, allow for more frequent and more varied forms of assessment than are found in standard e-learning.

They aren’t compatible with employees’ mobile devices.

The BYOD (bring your own device) movement is on the upswing. Gartner predicts that by 2017, half of employers will no longer supply mobile devices for their employees at all—they will expect their employees to use their own. Mobile learning is one of this year’s hottest trends, and it is considered a key strategy for training members of the Millennial generation. Training courses that can’t be accessed via learners’ personal mobile devices are not only less useful for just-in-time learning, but they risk not being useful at all, because employees simply won’t access them. Many features of MOOCs are already mobile compatible (e.g., videos, social media streams), and educational technology companies are working to make all aspects of the courses available for mobile.

Their analytics mean nothing.

How do you track employees’ engagement in your e-learning courses? Similar to instructor-led training, which is often measured by seat time, e-learning analytics often focus entirely on completion rate. However, this statistic doesn’t mean very much, and research has shown that learners interact with online courses in sophisticated ways that completion rate alone can’t measure. MOOCs offer companies the opportunity to collect huge amounts of data, and to learn from data collected by others, to better assess and improve their training courses.

These nine factors highlight why MOOCs are replacing both instructor-led training and standard e-learning in companies of all sizes, in many industries. Contact me for more information about how you can use MOOCs to up your firm’s training game.

Copyright 2014 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.

Bryant Nielson – Managing Director of CapitalWave Inc.– Being a big believer in Technology Enabled Learning, Bryant seeks to create awareness, motivate adoption and engage organizations and people in the changing business of education. Bryant is a entrepreneur, trainer, and strategic training adviser for many organizations. Bryant’s business career has been based on his results-oriented style of empowering the individual.

Learn more about Bryant at LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/bryantnielson

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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes. For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive. Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City. He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should 'engage and inspire' students to greater productivity and performance.