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The good, the bad and the ugly of elearning

When was the last time you looked forward to elearning?   Do your team ask for elearning or have they been put off by some poorly designed elearning in the past?  

Elearning isn't all bad.  It can be a really effective way to train lots of people in a short space of time.  It can be engaging, thought provoking and can lead to massive improvements in performance.  Yet, it often gets a bad press.  When it comes to elearning, there really is the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Ugly

This shouldn't even be called elearning (or learning) as it's really just information dumped onto some slides and converted into an elearning software format.  It's all bullet points and way too much text (even if they’ve added a cartoon character every so often).  All you have to do is click next, next, next, next, finish – just like installing software!  Not much of a learning experience is it?  Worse yet, is when you can’t even click next because the slow, monotone voice over hasn’t finished yet.  This should never have been 'converted' to elearning, but should just have been sent round as a memo.  

The Bad

Clark Quinn once described elearning as "knowledge dumps tarted up with trivial interactions".  You know the ones he's talking about, where each slide has 10 different buttons you’ve got to click on before you can move on – even when you know what they mean.  Adults should be able to choose what they read – if they don’t feel they need to ‘click here’ for an example of insecure passwords, then they shouldn’t need to.  When they get to the quiz and don’t know the answer, they’ll come back!  Speaking of quizzes, there’s nothing more irritating than badly written multiple choice quizzes – they either have two ridiculous answers plus an obvious one, or are so vague, all the answers could be correct.  

The Good

I'm sure you've read books which are interesting and thought provoking.  I'm sure you've watched videos that hold your attention and spark your curiosity.  Elearning can do all of that too.  If it's relevant to the learner and their work and speaks to them like the experienced adult they are, it will be interesting.  If it engages them through just-challenging-enough quizzes and games and encourages them to think about changes they can make, it will be thought provoking.  If it's well designed, allows the learner to navigate freely and is interesting, it will hold their attention and spark their curiosity.  Good elearning can be used to transfer knowledge, develop skills and transform behaviours, resulting in increased productivity and performance.

When was the last time you experienced good elearning?  Use the comments below to share your positive experiences.  What kept you engaged?  



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