It’s easy to get swept up in new eLearning trends and technologies without realizing that not all training is created equal. Further, eLearning is a growing industry and what may have been par for course in 2014 is no longer a best practice. In 2019, these are the six eLearning myths we can leave completely behind.
Myth #1: Everything should be FUN!
The reality: Focus first on value
Let’s get this one out of the way first. The highest priority of eLearning should be value. If the course you create and implement has all the bells and whistles but nothing solid for employees to learn, then it’s a waste of everyone’s time.
Do you want employee buy-in and engagement? Of course! Nothing worse than employee pushback after you have spent time and effort carefully designing your eLearning programs. But imagine how employees would react to a class that seems fun, but ends up providing recycled information they already know about ways to solve problems they are not even experiencing.
That’s a lose-lose.
Better to focus on value first in your learning experiences. Make that magic happen by asking employees what they want, what they need, and how they want to learn it. This will automatically add value to your training and make even the most reluctant trainees want to engage.
Myth #2: eLearning is a glorified PowerPoint presentation
The reality: Welcome to the 21st century
Sure, PowerPoint presentations used to be the height of technology – in the early 1990s. Entire school curricula taught executives and trainers PowerPoint as a way to organize and deliver information to groups of people in a graphic and exciting way. They advocated bulleted learning objectives, a linear progression, and clear outlines to keep the captive audience captivated.
Turns out, much of what used to make PowerPoint stand out just isn’t as effective as once thought.
The idea of learning objectives, for example, was developed in 1965 by Robert Gagne. However, learning objectives are more about what the trainer thinks (as opposed to what the trainee should learn) and may not be as effective as other models of organization. A trainer should use learning objectives on their own when designing training, but they do not necessarily need to be explicit for the learner.
What if, for example, the training started with a conversation about an issue that is related to a skill you are trying to develop? Imagine the level of engagement you would have as employees problem solve (as opposed to passively receiving information)? This discussion, whether online or in person, can serve as a sort of pre-test and a heads-up for employees about the content of the course and what they can expect to learn.
New eLearning technology has developed and changed to reflect better research on how adults learn. And guess what? Not everyone responds to a list of objectives and a pre-test and final assessment.
Myth #3: Technology is the only way
The reality: Technology is great, but it’s not always the best answer
Of course we believe firmly in the power of technology to connect and inspire. We know that employees have very little time in their day for training, and that microlearning, mLearning, and other tech trends can help them get the just-in-time information they need. However, we also know that sometimes nothing beats what happens IRL.
Excellent training happens when course developers tailor the delivery to the topic and the workforce. Think of a carpenter who gets detailed directions on how to swing a hammer but never actually gets to pound even a single nail. Or a manager who learns about personal protective equipment, but never actually tries it out herself. Some things are just best experienced on the job and in real life.
A good training program recognizes that and adapts to the topic at hand.
Myth #4: Only millennials benefit from eLearning
The reality: eLearning can work for every generation
It’s a popular fiction to think that only millennials benefit from or enjoy your company’s eLearning. Going a step further, some believe that eLearning simply panders to the fact that by 2025 75% of the workforce will be millennial.
While employers are looking forward to this innovative group of people further making their way into employment, the push is less to cater to their love of Snapchat and more to capitalize on their adept use of and adaptation to a variety of technologies and, by extension, workplace situations. For all their bad press, millennials are some of the most innovative and connected employees ever to collect a (digital) paycheck.
It can appear that the millennial love of technology is usurping previous generations’ learning tools, but what it’s doing is updating the delivery system to make information more accessible and streamlined for everyone. No, it’s not your grandfather’s five-pound training manual, but it is a comprehensive, interaction delivery that’s capable of delivering important information and communication whenever you need it for baby boomers and generation Z employees alike.
Myth #5: The value of eLearning is impossible to measure
The reality: Your employees are their own assessments
Think you can’t measure eLearning’s value (or that it’s not definitive enough to do so)? Let’s say your course objective is to increase employee productivity while cutting waste. In this case, you can take a direct look at your employee performance, measuring improvement or progress over time towards your learning objectives.
Some topics (compliance with company-wide safety rules, for example) are more easily measured, while others may require more time and analysis of data. This does not mean the measurements are ineffective. Quite the opposite. Sure, a computer can tell you when a module is completed or a test is passed, but the real measurement is in employee performance that meets your objectives.
Myth #6: Everyone is doing it, so we should too
The reality: Look past training for training’s sake, and think instead about opportunities
Sure, lots of companies have embraced eLearning and are getting fantastic results by using various eLearning tools. But is it right for your company? Do your employees really need training?
Chances are good that every company has room for growth and improvement. After all, training is nothing more than learning opportunities, formalized. But training for training’s sake is a poor use of valuable time and can do more harm than good.
If you suspect that a program is necessary, a training needs analysis can help you identify your core training needs to provide valuable, important information to your employees. Focus on what actually matters to your company – not what everyone else is doing.
Have strong opinions about any of these? Have other eLearning trends or practices that you feel are completely irrelevant in 2019? Feel free to leave your comments here or I’m always around if you’d like to get in touch.