Migrating from a traditional learning environment to an eLearning environment is not always smooth. A lot of hurdles need to be toppled during the cross-over and of course a lot of hearts need to be won. Despite best intentions several eLearning developers make these common 5 mistakes. In this article, we examine each and determine how to avoid them early in the eLearning process.
ELearning has advanced quite ahead in these few years. Despite the time-tested and proven methods of eLearning design and development, most of our peers are still repeating the same mistakes. Let’s look at each proactively.
- Using ELearning development tools that don’t fit the situation
So, you are still using the feature in your eLearning development tool that concerts the entire Power Point content to eLearning content. Before you go “rapid” know that this is the least favorable rapid-eLearning development feature! Use it sparingly and in emergencies! This feature can seriously turn your eLearning program into a content disaster!
Dissect your eLearning content into similar groups. Group images, video, and audio files and text for use in constructing your e-learning class. Another good way is to fit all of the above in a storyboard.
Determine how the eLearning program will be used. Is it synchronous or otherwise? AS a rule of thumb, choose an eLearning development tool that enables you to reach a world-wide audience. Watch out for file size limitations, an extremely annoying shortcoming in most eLearning tools. These force you to edit your content (audio and video) into a smaller size, thereby robbing its meaning altogether!
Evaluate the features in your selected eLearning development with an experienced eLearning developer. Create a mock eLearning program and test with your team before committing to it on a yearly or bi-yearly basis.
- Watch out for Audio and Video issues
No eLearning program is categorized as “interactive” if it does not include audio and video sources. And there is nothing worse than a collapsed audio and video files during the learning session. Clarity and background noise in both cases is the main complaint of eLearners. What can you do to improve the quality of your multimedia? For starters, choose the right narrator, male or female for your audio files. Test the narration with your team. Choose a voice that sounds relaxed and speaks clearly.
Next come the eLearning technology tools. Use a quality microphone, positioned properly (normally 8-10″ away). Use a script. Print it out in a larger font (14-16 point) and leave plenty of white space. It is usually better to stand up while recording narration. Also, by using silence as a break between takes enables you to edit the voice file easily. It is always advisable to use a closed-captioning authoring tool if it is available.
Many of us are fond of inserting videos from YouTube or Vimeo, but beware of the down side of this strategy. The URL can change unexpectedly, or the publisher can change the content. Quality degradation may also occur.
So what’s your best bet with multimedia? With cheaper video and audio editing tools out there, try to create your own audio and videos in your eLearning programs. This way, your audience will not get the chance to point out outdated videos used from public domains.
- Motivation Issues
Best practices in eLearning tell us that the shorter a segment, the greater the engagement and the motivation to go to the next segment. According to extant research, as eLearners, we lose our attention span after ten minutes!
So what can you do to prolong this engagement? Strategically introduce videos that are 5 -7 minutes in length. End the segment with an interactive exercise that offers music, points and feedback. Also, self-guided segments, where the learner decides how to proceed through the content, are also a great idea to prolong seat time.
Graphics and photos that allow learner interaction like hotspots, exploding diagrams, drag and drop and touch points that balloon into more information are other hot features. Use of animation also triggers curiosity. The key is to avoid using stock images and animations. Strive to create your own. And most importantly, make sure all interactivities are tied closely with the content.
- The Content Overload Syndrome
You may have great interactivity, but once your crowd a page with text, your learners will feel overwhelmed. Keep content trimmed to 5 to 7 lines per page. Provide “text-breaks” through multimedia and reinforcement activities. Only include the need-to-know information by reserving the nice-to-know for the references section.
- Failure to Follow-up
A common mistake we see in most eLearning programs is its availability to students but missing mentors when students ask questions after the program is completed. It’s understandable that your eLearning program has enough feedback to satisfy the learning needs of your student. But more often, students have other technical and non-course related issues that they will to ask. Go beyond the traditional evaluation to provide this extra bit of support. Ask your students the following questions post-program:
Did you have any issues gaining access to the class once you were registered and received instructions?
How long did the class materials take to load?
Did you experience any technical issues during the class?
How was the audio in the class?
What equipment were you using? A mobile device? A laptop?
Following up for this extra feedback helps you improve your courses and also keeps your students asking for more courses from you!
E-learning is not create, post and forget. A key activity of eLearning providers should be follow-up to satisfy future students.
ELearning design and development is a learning process. Every new instructional designer will run into problems. The goal of our blog is to provide you the benefit of the current research so that you can evaluate and improve your eLearning offerings.