Making mistakes and learning from them is a good thing; learning from mistakes that others make is even better. In this post I will show you the pitfalls that e-Learning experts are falling in, so you as an e-Learning rookie do not have to make them. Here are the lessons learned.
Do not go for the all-in-one solutions!
I’m CEO of Easygenerator and as a CEO you have to be all-round. I have to know about e-Learning, finance, management, marketing, sales, product development and more in order to manage all these developments in our company. But for most (if not all) of these fields we have a specialist in the company that is better than I am. It is the same with choosing your e-Learning solution. You can buy a big system that does all (like Blackboard, Sumtotal, Saba, Cornerstone on demand, et cetera) or you can go for a bunch of specialized tools that will beat that big solution on every specialty. My advice: go with the small specialized tools all the time.
Be careful of a vendor lock in
Companies are not here forever. If you do not believe me: only 12% of all companies that where in the Fortune top500 in 1955 still exist today. That is one reason that you want to be able to switch from vendor, but another one is that the tool is just not good enough, doesn’t meet your requirements anymore or the service is really bad. You have the risk for a vendor lock in with almost all LMS (Learning Management Systems). If you need an LMS than make sure your courses and results are not in there. That makes you already less dependent.
- Courses not ion the LMS. Make sure you use a separate authoring tool
- Results. Make use of XAPI. That is a new tracking standard that allows you to track results in your own database outside the LMS. If the system of you are considering does not support this: don’t buy it!
No installed software
Old school e-learning tools need to be installed on your computer or even worse on your company servers. This gives a lot of hassle with your IT department, it will give you issues (and cost) on updating the software but most important: All software will move to the cloud. So you have to go sooner or later, better to do it from the start.
Don’t be too formal
In developing e-Learning a lot of e-Learning experts are using a methodology that is called ADDIE. It is a method where you design and document first and then start developing it. It is old school, it is slow and it does not connect you to your users. The modern way of developing e-Learning is agile. It is more flexible and brings a whole bunch of advantages. I wrote earlier on this topic and there is a great book by Michael Allen; one of the e-Learning veterans that does understand where e-Learning is going.
Keep it simple
A lot of experts use all kind of tricks to make their e-Learning attractive. But keeping it simple can be at least as effective and much faster and cheaper. Follow these tips and you will have a good start:
- Start from learning goals and objectives
- Use images and videos to make it more visual
- Keep it short; no long pages and each module no longer than 15 minutes.
- Listen to the feedback of your learners.
If you do this and keep the other pitfalls in mind you should be off to a good start.