Designing and implementing effective e-learning courses provides
many challenges for course developers. Successful e-learning
courses and training require more than just a completion status;
successful courses promote learning, deep understanding, and the
ability to put the concepts into practicenot mere regurgitation.
In order for online learning to be effective, courses must begin
with a sound learning objective, end with a thorough implementation
strategy, and in between, must be developed with a clear structure,
solid content, and just the right amount of interactivity. To
develop an e-learning course that best facilitates learning and
understanding, steer clear of these easily avoidable mistakes in
rapid e-learning courses and discover the best elements and
solutions for successful e-learning content.
Problem: lack of direction
Learners cannot be expected to jump right into a course and
understand where to go, what to do, and how to achieve the best
results. Make it a staple to provide direction, requirements,
expectations, and help in a clear and simple way.
How to do it right: Although this seems like many elements in one,
this can simply be achieved by creating a Getting Started page as
your course introduction page or at least a selection within the
course navigation. Upon the start of the course, learners should be
able to understand the course objectives and structure, including
time and technological requirements.
Learners should also find tips for completing the course, what the
learner should understand upon completion, and why it is important.
Most importantly, provide quick links to help. This could include a
Frequently Asked Questions section, additional resources, contact
information, and technical support. To provide the most clarity,
include an overview video that demonstrates how to navigate through
the course and addresses all of the information in the Getting
Started section along the way.
Problem: ignoring the audience
Sometimes developers may overlook the learning levels, styles, and
preferences of their end-user audience. This can create major gaps
of missed opportunities to engage learners of different styles.
How to do it right: The key is to be flexible and embrace the
unique ways in which your audience processes information and
learning material. Provide a dynamic mix of learning elements to
fit all learning styles and preferences. Understand the experience
level of the end-learner and tailor content to fit both the
knowledge that they have, and the knowledge they seek in a course.
In addition, include elements to engage different types of learners
including audial and visual learners. For instance, rather than
only providing textual information, also couple your course with
engaging video, helpful audio, and interactive elements on the page
that will meet all learning styles.
For kinesthetic learners, design projects for learners to put
concepts into actions, such as quick experiments or small research
tasks. Courses that blend different learning styles provide a
well-rounded base for learning and understanding for all learners.
Problem: information overload
Too often, e-learning courses contain page after page of
unnecessary information. That is not to say the information is not
valuable, but drawn out text, it could be complicated and easily
distract learners from diving deep into a course.
How to do it right: Divide content into what is called, chunking or
bite-size learning. Because of multitasking, hectic schedules, and
on-the-go learners, the strategy to segment different lessons or
topics into different sections simplifies the information and makes
it easier to digest. In addition, it also makes it more convenient
for the majority of learners who complete training in small
portions and at different times.
Stick to the essential information necessary to understand the
course concepts and provide additional support by adding
attachments or links within the course. One concise way to do this
is to create a Resource Center within the course where learners can
find additional information and resources such as file attachments
and web pages to learn more. This is ideal when administering
training to learners with different experience levels. You can use
a rapid e-learning tool that enables you to easily add attachments
and links to more information to ensure simplified and proper
chunking of information.
Problem: disregarding design
Instructional design is a carefully cultivated skill. But even the
most solid, informational courses can lack one very valuable
element: aesthetic appeal. Not only does design impact learner
stimulation, but it also provides the backbone for how learners
consume information in an online learning environment.
How to do it right: Practice three basic rules of user interface
design: 1) simplicity, 2) consistency, and 3) predictability. An
overall simple design creates an environment with the focus on the
content and avoids distracting elements. Maintain consistency and
select one main color scheme, one or two complementary fonts, and
keep consistent font sizes for different sections of a course.
Font selections should be professional and very easy to see. Design
an overall outlined structure to your course so learners have a
visual understanding of what comes next in the course. Convey
information through storytelling to provide structure and engage
learners by creating a metaphor for course material. This makes
course navigation easier and creates an interesting, predictable
environment so learners always know what to expect and how all of
the concepts are connected.
Problem: lack of interactivity
The traditional page-turner approach in e-learning is simply no
longer enough. While learners may complete a course, true learning
and retention of information typically does not take place without
engaging learners and creating a fun environment where information
How to do it right: Some of the latest rapid e-learning tools make
it easier than ever to add a variety of interactivity to e-learning
courses. Now, developers can quickly add dynamic elements with just
one click, such as interactive Flash content that includes games
and buttons, quizzes, surveys, Web windows, YouTube videos, and
more. This creates an exciting opportunity for learners to
participate in the learning process, not just skim and regurgitate
With an opportunity to engage learners through interactivity, there
is greater opportunity to foster deep understanding of the course
information. This motivates learners to become knowledge experts
and increases the learners ability to practice the concepts in a
Problem: poor assessments
When the goal is to administer training that facilitates
understanding, basic assessments are not always effective tools to
measure information retention. Assessments should not only evaluate
learners understanding of information, but also serve as a means to
practice key concepts by facilitating additional research and
How to do it right: Avoid merely placing simple multiple-choice
questions at the end of every section. Some learners are expert
test-takers, easily repeating recently processed information on the
spot, but these simple questions do not challenge learners or
contextualize information outside of the course itself.
Design a variety of assessments to challenge, prepare, and evaluate
learners. In addition to multiple-choice, add short answer and
scenario-based questions in which learners put concepts into
practice. Create problem-solution questions to challenge learners
to think creatively and address the course material in real-life
For e-learning courses to facilitate the successful practice of key
concepts by learners, it is essential to grow all of the skills and
acquire all of the tools for effective e-learning execution.
Carefully planned, well-designed and implemented courses create the
most solid e-learning material. It is important for e-learning
developers and instructional designers to find mistakes and explore
solutions to keep a growing base of best practices and tips for
effective courses and training.
Just as important as it is to implement instructionally sound
elements in online training, it is equally important to leverage
the most capable rapid e-learning tools for development. Staying on
the leading edge of technology with the most cutting edge
e-learning practices and software creates a solid foundation for
developing highly interactive, engaging, effective e-learning
course materials that impact both the achievements of the learner
and the success of the organization.