Creating enjoyable e-Learning for a very dry subject

Hi everyone, I'm hoping for some advice. I am new to e-Learning and my first task is to create 7 modules on the subject of compliance. The first module is now live and included various interactions such as drag and drop, select the correct answer, scenarios etc. Some of the feedback has been good but some people have said there is not enough interaction, there is too much text on the screen and it's too long. Unfortunately I'm restricted by what my company requires and so I can't make it any less wordy or lengthy. But I was hoping to pick your experienced brains about how I can make a very, very dry subject more engaging and fun for people! Any thoughts or examples would be greatly appreciated.

6 Replies
Christy Tucker

If you'll forgive the shameless self-promotion, I wrote a blog post recently titled Make Learners Care about Compliance Training. I have used a "worst case scenario" to "hook" learners to care about what happens if they don't follow the policies. That can be a very short, 1-2 screen intro, but it starts off with engagement and a reason why they should care rather than starting by listing the objectives.

I also have an example of using scenarios so users are motivated to look up policies or ask virtual characters for advice. You can still have all that content you're required to have, but you put it in the context of a scenario where they have a reason to need that information.

Bob S


This is one of the perennial topics on the boards; clearly something that a lot of us struggle with.

There are two basic schools of thought depending on the real business need....  show the relevance (eg Christy's excellent tips above)  .... or go the other direction and make it as short and painless as possible.

While many have a knee-jerk reaction to the second idea, you may want to ask yourself what the business goal for the training really is. If it's mostly "check the box" and you aren't trying to change culture, reduce risk etc, then you may want to make the courses as streamlined as possible in order to at least  be respectful of your learner's time.  Then invest your creative energy into courses that really matter to the business (and learners).

Some folks temper this second approach by adding a lot of "if you want to learn more" options throughout the course. Keep the main path as streamlined as possible; hitting just the bare requirements. Then use reference materials, tabs, extra pathing, etc all as optional content pieces.

Everyone's situation is different, but over-designing is one of those traps we can fall into guided by the very best intentions.  We exist to serve a business purpose, so we need to be true to that... as well as doing right by our learners.

Hope this helps!


Ari Avivi


It is a struggle we have all felt.  The worst case scenario one is a great approach, really any story based approach will help get learners engaged.  The SME was adamant that every word was important and every screen had to be locked down for viewing (aargh)

So I  did a very tounge in cheek proof of concept around compliance training that started off with the following 'warning'

"This training is boring... your job is to survive it... or quit"

(I actually put a link to a mock termination letter off of the quit)

After that it was the standard click next, and a few different interactions, but what actually sold the project to the SME was that I added a few 'reward' pop up layers randomly to the slide to hand out 'prizes' as they worked through.  A total gimick but it made the experience less painful.

Sadly it never moved past the proof of concept phase because of some internal changes and shifting of priorities 

Meaghan Lister

You may also want to think about some fundamental questions.

  • How long is each module?
  • Is seven the right number? Can any of the modules can be combined? Should any of them be split into two shorter modules?

I would suggest focusing on how to make the courses relevant to the learner. Is there a way to get their buy in? How can they be tied back to real life in the company? Scenarios, as you have used already, are always useful. Sometimes a comic style conversation works. If they are statistics based, can you use infographics?

If one of the complaints is too text heavy, consider how much text is on the screen. Sometimes breaking the same amount of text over more screens can actually make it seem like it is less. Consider whether you can use video or a talking character to help break up the text based reading.


Deepak G

Hi Alice,

The key here is to manage the content in a better way and add interactions which will make it interesting.

There are 2 ways you can do this.

1. Serious Games

Games always work in this case. We developed one such game for Compliance Training for one of the Fortune 500 companies. It was a Obstacle course where the objective was to reach to the top of the mountain. There were hurdles on the route and the person had to overcome this by answering questions. Each hurdle was about a particular topic like Bribery, Gifting, etc.

The problem is you need tech knowledge as well as this require coding. No tool is equipped to develop such a full-fledged game.

2. Storytelling

This is another technique which you can use.

Create a story around the topic. Like a case study. Present a situation and add a game after it. or hide clues which the person has to uncover by answering questions correctly. 

This could be created using any elearning tool. We typically use QuoDeck for this.

Hope this helps!