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Elearning: What’s Possible vs. What Customers Want

I expect that every learning experience – in person or online – should be amazing. I don’t think I’m alone with this expectation. How “amazing” is defined is a different story.

When I think of amazing learning experiences, I expect good, engaging content that will help me do a job better or differently. And if it’s going to help me do something better or differently, I think amazing also includes allowing me to practice in a safe environment. I expect a variety of media… and if there’s going to be video I expect that there will be specific things I should be looking for in the video. I expect interactive case studies with branching scenarios so that I can try out new skills or different ways of doing things. I expect to be able to remember the learning experience days, weeks, even months after I complete it.

Last week, I asked several friends and colleagues what they expect when it comes to elearning.  Here’s what they had to say:

“Clarity in finding resources and functions and overall simplicity in design. If [there is] a function or resource that needs to be used frequently as part of the course design, but you have to click through seven menu options or screens to find it, or if they list three different ways to access it, then you’ve got a frustrated learner on hand.”

– Grad Student in Human Resources Development

“My expectations are that the information is practical, accessible through a variety of formats (desktop, tablet, mobile phone, etc), evidence based, non-biased and up to date.”

– Doctor and Director of Telemedicine for a university hospital system

“One thing I would expect is that there is some level of self-navigation and that at each concept or learning point there is a link to further resources that the learner can use if they are finding that particular concept difficult.”

– Regional Director for a large Global Health organization

Granted, this was a very small sample size and certainly wasn’t a very scientific study, but nonetheless not a single person expected a variety of media. Not a single person mentioned case studies or branching or gamification or other features that are trendy in the instructional design community. Not a single person used the word “engaging” in their expectations.

What they did expect included things such as ease of use, intuitive interface, relevant content, simplicity.

Just listening to what people expect, I wonder if those of us who develop elearning sometimes go too far in trying to make something creative and memorable and engaging. Of course, not a single person I surveyed said they expect their elearning experiences to be boring, either.

If you’ve made it this far through this article, I’d like to hear from you in the comments section below. What do you expect out of an elearning experience?

Looking for ways to make elearning design more interesting for the learner? You may enjoy these previous posts (written as case studies) that feature feedback from a variety of experts:

The Train Like A Champion Blog is published Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  If you think someone else might find this interesting, please pass it along.  If you don’t want to miss a single, brilliant post, be sure to click “Follow”!  And now you can find sporadic, 140-character messages from me on Twitter @flipchartguy.

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