What's the WORST elearning advice you ever received?

A few weeks ago, I came across David's post titled, "What's the BEST elearning advice you ever received?"  I thought it might be fun to look at this question from another perspective. The old saying, "You learn more from your mistakes than you ever learn from getting it right" seems to fit here.

Here is mine to get this discussion started:

When I first started designing and delivering e-Learning, I was advised by another person (no one from our community by the way) that for very simple jobs, don't bother writing a Statement of Work (SOW).  

I took that advice on one of my first projects, a simple one that was estimated to take 2-3 days to complete. Unfortunately, the project experienced scope creep and before I knew it, expanded to 2-3 weeks. Without a signed Statement of Work (SOW) to go back to the client with and show the requested tasks were not in our original agreement, it became a "he said/she said" situation.  I wrapped up the project as quickly as I could but at a loss!

Lesson learned? ALWAYS, no matter how simple your next e-Learning project appears to be, GET THE AGREEMENT IN WRITING and SIGNED by BOTH parties before starting a project.

What about you? What is the WORST elearning advice you ever received? 


51 Replies
Richard Watson


Glad you are finding it useful. I thought it might be a fun topic (yet sad at times) to hear what we e-Learning designers experience from time to time.  Perhaps a new thread of "What was the strangest thing someone asked you to do during an e-Learning project? ...could provide some interesting banter as well.

Destery Hildenbrand

Not so much advice but a request, one time I had a client ask why we were making them do stuff. We had included some basic interactions that seem to fit well for the content. 

"How can they take notes while there doing stuff? Take that out. This type of stuff just doesn't work". ~collective group sigh while removing said interactions~ 

Karlis Sprogis

I remembered one more, which is more funny, rather than bad, we had to create interactive course, and the client wanted a character that "lives in the course", they wanted us to draw a young and entrepreneurial style character, so far so good, but then they also wrote that he has to be at least 1.80m (6 feet) tall :), a bit complicated with fictional characters that you draw :). 

Tracy Carroll

"Keep the 35-slide 'parable' in the 60 slide presentation. It's critically important."

The "parable" was actually a fable that missed the mark. It didn't make the point the author intended.

Same project: "Do NOT include a menu or table of contents. Keep the navigation locked. We don't want to allow the learner to skip any slides."

Yikes! I still have nightmares...

Joanne Chen

Karen, that happened in my country all the time. And some of our clients even asked for putting an icon in the instructions because they are afaird of their users might not understand an arrow button is the next button.

For example:

  Click on the next button to proceed.  (Users might not understand the arrow icon button is the next button. )

X    Click on the "  " icon to proceed. (Users might just click on the icon in this text and compained no reaction then.)

O    Click on the " " on the bottom right to proceed.