So, your senior leadership has decided to move an instructor-led (ILT) course to online. It will save a lot of money, it will be accessible to all, any time, anywhere, and it’s going to be fun! Really, really, fun! What can go wrong?
Welcome to the UPSIDE DOWN WORL&D of E-LEARNING!
Here’s eleven things that can go wrong, really, really, wrong:
1/11 The Voice
While in the face-to-face session a real-life facilitator talks, for the e-learning course, you need to decide on the voice. Male or Female? Accent? Age? For some reason, real-life people are allowed to bring the session to life with jokes, humor, and natural conversational tone, e-learning courses often ends up with boring, brochure reading unnatural marketing speech. Be aware!
2/11 The Length
Honestly, your 6 hour face-to-face session is now going to be a 30 minute course? What were you doing for the other 5 and a half hours? You can’t just magically put the ILT content in a mixer and compress it to 30 minutes. Guess what goes first? Interactions. Believe me, 1 minute of brain-wasting reading online is comparable of 1 hour of blunt-force trauma in a face-to-face session.
3/11 The Content
4/11 The Interactions
5/11 The Avatar
Avatars can open a can of worms. First of all, why do you need an avatar? Is the purpose to enhance learning? You may or may not know but research shows that in some cases not using any avatar results in the same (or even better) effectiveness. And there’s the choice: cartoon, realistic or real? Cartoons are silly. Marketing wants realistic or real people. Then HR wants diversity. Okay, then you’ll have two avatars, and the user can choose. Best would be actual workers but Legal warns all about the traps. Cut-out people don’t wear company uniforms. Their expressions are exaggerated anyway. Now, what? Let’s hire actors! Dress them up, and do an all day photo shoot to get justify the cost. Oh, but now we have to go back to the VOICE. It needs to match! 🙂
6/11 The Cost
One of the main reasons companies go with e-learning (good or bad) is because of cost. Once the course is created online, it’s accessible and available for “free.” Therefore, the more people “take” the course, the “cheaper” it gets. With rapid authoring, you can even reduce the upfront cost, and increase speed to market. No, you won’t be able to turn your scary-boring courses more engaging with a rapid authoring tool. You’ll just create more scary-boring courses. Just faster. There’s a hidden cost we often don’t talk about. It’s not measured in dollars. It’s measured in morale.
7/11 The Branding
Oh, every e-learning must adhere to your branding guidelines! Colors, logos, space and all. To save money, you create a template. Templates will help you increase speed to market even more! You carefully lay out all the elements, colors, navigation, and all for the CONTENT to be plugged in. Then you realize it works only for “slide show”-type of courses. Your stakeholder wants to change the interaction. You don’t have a template for that. But overall, your courses look great!
8/11 The Facilitator
In real-life, your Facilitator controls the room, the people, the show. He or She is the driver of the experience. The Facilitator can skip things, alter things, tweak things, or screw things. Inconsistent but there’s control in the room. No need for forcing people to listen to a slide until they move on because it’s all controlled by the Facilitator. You give up all the power in e-learning. Thanks to modern apps, you can lock users in a screen until the audio finishes to make sure they hear every word at gun point.
9/11 The Maintenance
We live a world of constant change. Remember that great template-driven, marketing-approved, good-looking course that was cost-effective? This is what it looks now. Did you calculate the maintenance cost when you decided to include those videos? Oh, by the way, the Sr. Leader left the company, could we cut out that intro in the middle of clip that includes him?
10/11 The Fun
The was a British group in the 80’s, called Madness. Best known songs (by me): Our House and House of Fun. Welcome to the house of fun! Instead of taking you out of your daily work, giving lunch and a warm room with others to joke around, now you can hang a “Please don’t bother me, I’m taking a course” sign on your cube. But wait, we gamified the boring content for you. You earn clown badges for each multiple-choice question. Not everyone ends up being a super-clown!
11/11 The Nose Bleed
Spoiler Alert: if you have not watched Stranger Things (1 or 2), you may want to skip the Nose Bleed section! Okay, the dismal, “horroristic” pictures above makes you want to go back to the classroom. We could do the same post for the classroom setting. The point is, bad learning design is bad learning design. Whether you’re in the downside WORL&D, or the upside WORL&D, it can make your nose bleed. And you know what happens then!
Before you do anything about transforming your classroom training to an online course, you may want to start with the following questions:
Moving content from offline to online is like reading a book on TV. That is not a movie. Start with the end in mind, not with the content in mind. Video tape the face-to-face session. Watch where participants are ACTIVE throughout the recording. That is your target! And please, don’t spoon-feed your participants frozen waffles!