An eLearning system is usually defined as the use of electronic media, information and communication technologies in education. Any teaching methodology that includes types of media that deliver text, audio, images, animation, streaming video, and technology applications using channels such as audio or video tape, satellite TV, CD-ROM, computer-based learning, local intranet/extranet and web-based learning can be classified as eLearning. It is worthwhile to look for the common pitfalls or mistakes that are likely to happen during this process.
1. Not defining objectives and requirements
The first step in the design of an eLearning program is to define the exact needs of the trainers and learners and the objectives of the program and requirements. It is also important to project quantifiable metrics expected in terms of quality and ROI. Based on these, an eLearning plan should be created.
2. Failure to identify tasks, and allocate roles and responsibilities
A cross functional team of instructional designers, trainers and users should be formed to evaluate make recommendations. The roles and responsibilities of individuals on this team should be clearly defined. An independent quality assessment team may also be needed if a third party LMS is to be chosen.
3. Not making proper assessment of likely hardware environment
A successful eLearning program involves learners sitting at their homes or offices in front of their computers, connected to the trainer through a learning management system (“LMS”). The LMS design would have to take into consideration variations in hardware such as computers, cameras, audio sets, etc., in addition to available bandwidth, operating system being used, and installed apps and software.
4. Overloading eLearning sessions with technology
While designing eLearning, care has to be taken to restrict or limit use of too many types of media, tools, applications, and/or software simply because it is bewildering to the learners. The coursework and related content should be un-complicated, engaging and interesting. The focus should be on a conducive learning environment than on the technology itself.
5. Assuming that learners are all homogenous.
All learners do not learn at the same pace, nor do they possess the same level of technical proficiency. Some of them may be able to go through a session and learn whatever is being taught, without asking any questions. Others might do it at a slower pace and with little more help coming from trainers. In an eLearning class, if too much information is crammed in without giving learners an opportunity for reflection, application, and integration, they would end the session without retaining any knowledge.
6. Forgetting that eLearning is a collaborative process
Simply digitizing and displaying pages and pages of lecture notes on screen is not the most effective use of eLearning. eLearning is most effective when students are encouraged to think and discuss ideas, ask questions, analyze and solve problems without the mediation of a teacher. The class therefore should include challenging opportunities to help the learners learn on their own.
7. Creating eLearning courses that are difficult to navigate
While creating an eLearning course, it should be noted that the navigability of the course by students is key to its success. If learners cannot easily navigate through the eLearning course, they won't be able to achieve the learning goals even if the quality of the content is high. Accessibility of content is of great importance.
8. Not providing for power or broadband failures
There may be times when a learner loses his connection to the LMS due to power or broadband outages. This is especially true when time sensitive or synchronous sessions are being conducted. It is also possible that the learner may lose access to the instructor when a blended learning session is being held. The LMS being used must be robust enough to handle such situations and allow the student to rejoin the class within a reasonable time frame at the same point.
9. Lack of evaluation and assessment tools
The learner must be frequently tested and evaluated to ensure the success of the program and the knowledge retention of the learner. The eLearning course should therefore incorporate quizzes, surveys and practical exercises in adequate numbers as follow ons to the information being shared with the learner at various points in the class.
10. Failure to learn from the mistakes of the past
An eLearning course should not be considered a static offering. The learning and development team must treat all feedback from the learners in a constructive manner and make changes accordingly if something is not working as it should be. In parallel, content can also be fine-tuned to what the learners have appreciated the most. Use of a properly designed LMS can facilitate the posting of learner feedback and is thus essential in improving the coursework.
It is important to look at these 10 commandments while building your program in order to ensure its success.