Reading the title you may have been put off to read this post, especially if you are in any way involved in E Learning, so I’ll just iron things out here.
These are reasons why E Learning doesn’t work in organisations when it is implemented or used badly – OK, now read on…
E Learning has been cited as a form of learning that is slowly, but surely, taking over from the more traditional forms of face-to-face training that most of us are used to. The reasons for this are both economic, pragmatic and in some ways, practical.
There are some subjects which can be managed as a learning subject fully through E Learning, such as finance, computers, science and some highly technical fields, where the learning matter requires little human-to-human interaction.
E Learning is potentially a great medium for learning that can provide powerful and lasting change in terms of learning, but a poorly designed and implemented solution will leave a bitter taste in the mouth for long after it gathers dust in an ante-room somewhere in the company.
Here are some of the traps to avoid and some reasons why E Learning does not work in an organisational setting:
1. Failure to get buy-in from senior staff
If the project isn’t supported and encouraged by senior staff it will almost certainly fail at ground level. A great deal of effort needs to be put into the design and roll-out of E Learning at the outset and an even greater amount of energy is needed to ensure that it maintains its impetus in the long-term
.2. Designed by technologists
An E Learning solution needs to designed by a combination of technologists, to ensure that the technical side answers the needs of learners but with a strong input from pedagogues in terms of the actual content and learning process flow. You wouldn’t by a Louis Vuitton computer and an Apple bag to carry it in would you?
3. Results are not Managed and Communicated to Learners
Anyone who is undertaking learning needs to know how they are doing in order to set and update objectives and reflect to on their learning. If this doesn’t happen then people end up floundering around not knowing where they are doing well or on what needs to be done to improve. If you start of going nowhere, you usually end up there! There needs to be clear agreement on what is evaluated and How results are communicated, failure to do this will have an effect on a learner’s motivation to learn or to continue with the program. So many “all-bells-and-whistles” learning solutions actually fail due to a mismatch between the technicality of the tool and the usability and transferability of the learning to the “real world”. Using a combination of testing methods will result in better assessment of knowledge than a single source which can test short-term knowledge retention but can be unreliable in assessing long-term retention and skills acquisition.
4. Learning not aligned with strategic or business objectives
If the learning content is not aligned with the objectives and strategy of the business it will be very difficult to maintain learner motivation and management buy-in in order that the learning events remain high on the business agenda. This could also have a decisive effect on the longevity of the solution if an organisation starts hitting rocky financial times – often in the face of financial constraints, the training budget is one of the first to be effected, so a costly solution that is not aligned with the business strategy can be the first to be abandoned.
5. Learning does not build on Prior Knowledge
If the solution doesn’t take into account the learner’s prior knowledge of the subject matter, it can be a real turn-off as learners perceive the content as being patronising and a waste of their time. This is where the planning and pedagogical feasibility stages of the design process comes to the fore and where the hearts and souls of learners is either won or lost.
6. LMS Platform Weaknesses
If the LMS (Learning Management System) fails on a regular basis, or if there are difficulties for the learner to log-on and use the system, this could result in a poor attendance with learners finding other things to do with their time. An LMS platform needs to be robust and useable at all times in order to encourage learners to engage and use the system on a regular basis.
7. Wrong Objectives for The Learning Design
Not all subjects can be effectively addressed by an E Learning solution. There are certain subjects that need the interactive dynamic of a facilitator or a coach to join the dots up and to add a dimension that cannot be found from even the best LMS on the market. Happily with the advent of Web 2.0, there are ways that the LMS can implement one-to-one and one-to-many learning events such as Webinars, Telephone conferencing, Video Conferencing and Chat Forums. The addition of face-to-face sessions in some subjects such as management or communication training are absolutely essential to underpin and to exploit the benefits of the work carried out on an LMS – this would then be termed as Blended Learning.
8. Poor Learner Support
Learners need help, support and coaching with their learning in order to reach peak performance, and autonomy in their learning processes. Failure to support learners will result in poor results and even poor attendance to the programs as learners are left to their own devices. Some organisations view E Learning as a complete sea-change in the ways that learning is carried out, going from 100% face-to-face learning sessions to 100% E Learning, which, in my opinion is wrong. E Learning cannot fully replace a learning professional but can be part of the palette of solutions and tools offered in harmony to enhance learning across the organisation.
9. Learning not Valued Highly Enough at Management nor Employee Level
If learning is not seen as a vital strategic commodity within the organisation then an E Learning solution will be implemented for purely financial reasons – less work time committed to training and more productivity from employees. The sad part about this is that learners often view E Learning as something they can do at any time – which is true and great.
However, if the value is considered low, the learner will undertake learning only when they have nothing better to do, which in the 21st century organisation is virtually never.
10. Failure to implement Change Management and Adaptation to New Media
If E Learning is going to succeed, learners need to be helped to adapt to the change that is clearly going to happen in the technical and behavioural aspects of learning via a relatively new medium. Some will be used to learning via a computer screen, whilst others will need help adapting in order to fully benefit from E Learning. Simple things such as the availability of a microphone / Speakers / sound Card or headphones need to be taken into account before the solution is launched, whilst training on the solutions’s usage and independent learning needs to be well-thought out from the outset. having a dedicated E Learning space in the company is a strong outward statement as to the organisation’s dedication, belief and faith in the solution – and one which says “we value learning”.
E Learning has an indisputable bright and long future in an organisational setting as a way to vehicle learning and motivate learners, but it is a step that needs to be carefully and clearly planned from the outset.
The technology of E Learning is there to support learning and people management – not there to replace them – a coherent planning and integration strategy is of vital importance if the solution is going to last the course – failure to do this will result in a widespread inoculation across the organisation against E Learning, which is totally unjustified.
Clear statements of intent regarding learning can lift training from the bottom of the priority list for some organisations, to where it should be, as an integral part of the company’s strategic plan.