5 Common E-Learning Mistakes

There are a few parts of creating e-learning that can trip up even the most experienced designers. That’s why it’s helpful to connect with your peers, keep your perspective fresh, and make sure you’re always learning. And we’re here to help! Here are a few things you should watch out for when you’re planning and developing an e-learning project.

Mistake #1: Too Much “Click Next”

One of the great things about e-learning is the ability to include engaging interactivity, such as drag-and-drop interactions or branching scenarios, to capture learners’ attention and boost engagement. But it’s all too easy—and so tempting!—to take a shortcut and just ask learners to click Next on slide after slide of static, text-heavy content.  

But if you’re asking learners to click Next over and over again, they’ll wonder why they just couldn’t read a PDF or a webpage with that same info. Take advantage of all e-learning has to offer by building interactions that invite learners to participate with the information. That makes it so much easier to grasp, retain, and apply info to their everyday lives. Dive into this e-book for practical strategies for easily creating compelling interactivity.

Mistake #2: Inconsistent Design

Have you ever seen a serious business document written with a whimsical typeface like Comic Sans? Or a marketing email with jarringly mismatched colors and styles? Then you know how hard it can be to look past truly bad visual design. Ideally, design shouldn’t be a distraction—it should help set the right feel for your course while directing learners’ attention to key points.

You don’t have to be a pro to come up with great visual design. The key is to create a simple, consistent design following some basic rules of thumb. That approach will help you create a platform that allows learners to focus on content, not the terrible color scheme or clashing fonts. Take your design skills to the next level with the tips in this visual design e-book.  

Mistake #3: Not Giving Your Learners Enough Credit

Another great thing about e-learning is letting learners guide their own learning experience. Putting learners in control gives them a sense of ownership and self-direction. That’s incredibly empowering!

So don’t make the mistake of droning on and on about the same basic info or content. Know your audience, and give them credit for the experience and background info they already likely have.

That means your learners may not need to watch the tutorial on “how to use this course.” Make it optional. That also means you shouldn’t lock your navigation if you can avoid it. If learners want to skip ahead because they’re already familiar with a concept, let them. Use assessments and quizzes to ensure that they know what you need them to know. You can always put extra info and resources in optional areas where learners can investigate if they need more help.

Mistake #4: Poor Quality Control

Ugh, is there anything worse than a doc that’s full of typos or grammatical errors? Actually, broken navigation on a website might be more annoying. Or if the sound in a video has so much background noise that you can barely understand the narrator; that’s a deal-breaker for sure.

If your learners are struggling to understand or use your course because of mistakes like these, they’re not going to be able to make the most of their learning experience. It’s so easy to catch these errors with a simple review process, but all too often developers don’t take the time to do a proper quality assurance (QA) review of their projects. Make that a part of your project management process and never skip it. Try implementing some of the tips from these two articles to take your QA up a notch:

Mistake #5: Skipping Instructional Design Best Practices

What’s instructional design? It’s the process of assessing information and figuring out the best way to frame and present it so that learners can easily understand and apply it.

Using an ID approach to assessing content will help you present information to learners in an effective and focused way. There’s not enough room here to go into all of the ID best practices that can help you create effective e-learning, but here are a few key problems that seem to come up over and over:

  • Including too much information. To respect your learners’ time and also create the most targeted course possible, make sure you separate “need-to-know” from “nice-to-know.”
  • Failing to provide post-course help or resources. You’ve whetted learners’ curiosity with an excellent and targeted course; don’t leave them hanging if they’re looking for more! Give them some next steps or resources to support their performance on the job.
  • Writing “gotcha” quizzes that don’t really show you what learners know. The purpose of an assessment is ensuring that learners have learned the material you’ve covered. This helps learners too, by showing them all they’ve accomplished! You need to write questions well in order to get a true picture of what learners know; including trick questions or questions that are too easy doesn’t do anyone any good. Make sure to write your knowledge checks thoughtfully.

More Resources

If you’re looking for a deeper dive into building your e-learning chops, don’t miss these comprehensive resources: