Elearning failure

Dear all,

I have been heavily involved in Elearning since 1998. During that period I experienced both failure and success. I have been involved as a client of Elearning and as an Elearning provider selling Elearning solutions tot he market. I am currently doing my doctorate in Human Resources Development using Elearning while focusing on the failure of Elearning and the reasons behind it. it is important to note that when we speak of failure we are not referring to absolute failure, but rather to the failure of Elearning to achieve a wide acceptance among human resources and training managers as it was intended to be. I believe that Elearning failure has been due four key areas: Poor design, badly structured content, medium of delivery, and the targeted audience.

I would really appreciate your input on the subject.

9 Replies
john faulkes

I agree with your points, but would add my own take:

Poor design - I would say failure of proper instructional design - in the past there's was a great amount of product which did not consider the learners' needs to be intrigued, interacted with, paced properly, challenged etc.

To my mind this is why many people in the training manager community are very wary.

JaF

Andy Learning Specialist

I think there are several different types of failure. Obvious failure is easy to see; when results don't happen or if instructional material doesn't function correctly, etc. Then there are various levels of unnoticed failure. These are the types I see the most and technically, every single course has varying levels of failure. I use the term course to loosely apply to whatever instructional mechanism is being used.

I think these failures are due to a great lack of applied knowledge, creativity, basic design concepts, and competent instructional writing skills to name a few.

That being said, Hassan was speaking to failure to gain acceptance among HR folks and managers which I think is a very different argument than what I proposed because you can gain acceptance even with the biggest unnoticed failures. It would probably have more to do with obvious failure which I think in part could be due to poor salesmanship.

Hassan Backeer

john faulkes said:

I agree with your points, but would add my own take:

Poor design - I would say failure of proper instructional design - in the past there's was a great amount of product which did not consider the learners' needs to be intrigued, interacted with, paced properly, challenged etc.

To my mind this is why many people in the  training manager community are very wary.

JaF

I totaly agree. See, initially due to the ELearning hype, many ELearning "Sellers" and I say sellers as they had no idea of instructional design concepts, thought it was simply taking  a content of a course and turn it into a readible online version and call that ELearning. The results were simply long winded online text - great fro putting someone to sleep. Amount of learning was poor. To be fair, some vendors did a great job and I will  not mention names so that I do not sound as doing marketing for them. Yes, some did take care to a good extent but however, the absence of, as you said "learners' needs to be intrigued, interacted with, paced properly, challenged etc", was not there.
Hassan Backeer

Walter Coolman said:

I think there are several different types of failure. Obvious failure is easy to see; when results don't happen or if instructional material doesn't function correctly, etc. Then there are various levels of unnoticed failure. These are the types I see the most and technically, every single course has varying levels of failure. I use the term course to loosely apply to whatever instructional mechanism is being used.

I think these failures are due to a great lack of applied knowledge, creativity, basic design concepts, and competent instructional writing skills to name a few. 

That being said, Hassan was speaking to failure to gain acceptance among HR folks and managers which I think is a very different argument than what I proposed because you can gain acceptance even with the biggest unnoticed failures. It would probably have more to do with obvious failure which I think in part could be due to poor salesmanship.

Yes you are right. From my experience these unnoticed failures were discovered too late after an investment was made. As a result ELearning was seen as a bad investment and thus blacklisted. Some organizations that adopted Elearning in the early days and faced a failure are very reluctant to take the risk again, despite that fact that there are some good products (to a certain extent) out there. In addition, some HR managers see a "Black or White" situation. They think of it as either conventional classroom training or Elearning. Aparently it does not work that way. Audience type, experience, capabilities, content, objective of the training, etc, all dictate whether ELearning is applicable or not. As an example, you cannot possibly train someone to swim via ELearning, but you could give some tips to someone that can already swim so as to improve their swimming once they are in the water. There are many aspects that must be considered which makes the consultancy side time and money costly.
Hassan Backeer

john faulkes said:

I agree with your points, but would add my own take:

Poor design - I would say failure of proper instructional design - in the past there's was a great amount of product which did not consider the learners' needs to be intrigued, interacted with, paced properly, challenged etc.

To my mind this is why many people in the  training manager community are very wary.

JaF

Would it be OK if I send you a short survey in regards to Elearning. It is part of my research. If ok by you, I have four versions of the survey depending on your experience: For Learning Specialists, for Elearning users, for HT and Training managers, for elearning vendors. if ok by you, let me know which one to send you the link for. Thanks a million for your input
Hassan Backeer

Walter Coolman said:

I think there are several different types of failure. Obvious failure is easy to see; when results don't happen or if instructional material doesn't function correctly, etc. Then there are various levels of unnoticed failure. These are the types I see the most and technically, every single course has varying levels of failure. I use the term course to loosely apply to whatever instructional mechanism is being used.

I think these failures are due to a great lack of applied knowledge, creativity, basic design concepts, and competent instructional writing skills to name a few. 

That being said, Hassan was speaking to failure to gain acceptance among HR folks and managers which I think is a very different argument than what I proposed because you can gain acceptance even with the biggest unnoticed failures. It would probably have more to do with obvious failure which I think in part could be due to poor salesmanship.

Would it be OK if I send you a short survey in regards to Elearning. It is part of my research. If ok by you, I have four versions of the survey depending on your experience: For Learning Specialists, for Elearning users, for HT and Training managers, for elearning vendors. if ok by you, let me know which one to send you the link for. Thanks a million for your input
Bruce Graham

I would say that most businesses fail to deploy training/learning, ANY training/learning correctly.

In many cases they will not discipline/retrain/re-locate people who "fail" at Quizzes and so on, and the training fails to tie itself to anything meaningful in the business.

I think a lot of eLearning now lags behind what people see on the Internet/TV - and because it is a "visual" medium, we set ourselves up to fail from the start in many instances when we still talk about "slides" and so on. It may not be correct to dismiss eLearning like that, but it's the perception of the learners that is important, and a lot of them do just that.

Success is a matter of how training is sold as part of a bigger picture, and if there's no motivation to actually learn, it's the same as being told to go to a football/soccer match when you hate football/soccer and have no reason to do so. You will enter the stadium demotivated, not really watch the match, and leave with a negative opinion. And then you are "forced" to go to the Annual Compliance vs. Process Departmental Football/Soccer match.

No wonder so much eLearning is a battle for sponsors, producers and learners!

Hassan Backeer