This week at Nimble we’re debunking some of the most common misconceptions and myths about elearning. Even though it’s been over 20 years since the term ‘elearning’ was first coined by Elliott Maisie in 1999, some of the common misunderstandings about elearning still rear their head, especially for people who are still wondering whether elearning is the right move for them and their organisation.
Before we get into it though, what exactly is elearning?
In its broadest terms, elearning (also called eLearning or e-learning by some organisations) can be described as the delivery of any learning via ‘electronic media’ including live video feeds and online tutorials.
More commonly though, the term elearning is used to refer to combining content such as written text, media and interactions into a single self-paced online course, which is delivered by a Learning Management System (LMS). This is what we at Nimble concentrate on when we talk about elearning, creating great online courses that impart the learning outcomes and training your organisation needs.
Now we’re all on the same page, let’s get on with the debunking!
1. Elearning is boring
Probably the most commonly heard myth around elearning is that it’s boring. Unfortunately, this myth is born of a little bit of truth, which makes it harder to debunk. Back when elearning was first created, it was sometimes delivered by video, presented on a big television on wheels that was pushed from training room to training room. To give you some idea of just how long ago that was, some of us at Nimble still remember elearning being delivered by LaserDisc (for those people reading this who never came across LaserDiscs, you didn’t miss much – think ‘giant CD’).
That type of elearning however was a long time ago, and it has come a long way since. Regardless of the topic, even the most dull subject matter can be turned into an easy-to-digest and entertaining course when presented in the right way. This ranges all the way from mandatory compliance type courses to soft skills.
Part of ensuring your elearning is as engaging as possible is to create the right elearning for your audience – and if you have a course provider, they should be doing the same.
A great way to avoid the boredom factor is to make your elearning bite-sized and digestible in small chunks. This will allow your audience to understand and absorb information at a pace that’s relevant to their learning style.
Another fantastic way to ensure your elearning isn’t boring is by building your own courses. Inserting your learners into familiar scenarios and understanding what is important to them and their learning styles allows you to create elearning that reaches the maximum level of engagement.
Adding a variety of interaction types into your course like quizzes, videos and practical exercises means you break up the learning and make it even more engaging. We believe it’s possible for anyone to create great elearning courses with no formal training – especially when using a super-simple elearning authoring tool such as Nimble Author.
2. It’s complicated to make and difficult to get right
One of the other big myths around elearning is that it’s complicated and time-consuming to make and difficult to get it right.
The great thing is, you don’t have to be a tech wizard to make great elearning. With modern authoring tools like Nimble’s, it’s possible to make elearning in a super-simple way without needing a large skillset or experience in creating elearning. Nimble’s page layout templates, drag and drop elements and built-in image library make course building a breeze.
It doesn’t have to be difficult to make a great course, and while you get everything you need with Nimble Author to create courses easily, we also like to go the extra mile and give you a dedicated Customer Success Manager and UK-based support team who can help you build your courses and fill in any gaps in your knowledge. We’ll even review your course for you and give you tips and practical feedback – fully included in your license cost.
3. You need to be a graphic designer to make good looking courses
A good looking and engaging elearning course will ideally include images and photos that are relevant to your audience and subject matter. You don’t need to be a graphic designer though to get great images ready for your course, or to lay them out in a way that appeals to your learners.
Last week we shared our favourite free resources for creating elearning, including free image manipulation tools and royalty-free stock image sites. On top of this, in Nimble Author we have a library of free stock images and illustrations you can use in any of your courses.
Another thing to remember is to keep it simple! You don’t need a lot of flashy images with lots of editing – relevant images that reflect the course material and placed correctly on the page goes a long way to making your course look great.
4. It doesn’t suit all types of learners
It’s true there are a number of learning styles out there that your audience will fit into differently, such as:
- Kinesthetic learners – those who learn best when things are represented graphically to them (they also are people who like to ‘do’ things, physically or through active participation)
- Visual learners – people who see a task or scenario performed and remember it
- Auditory learners – those people who learn best from audio narration and being told information
- Reading/Writing learners – learners who learn best from reading information about a subject
Just because there are different types of learners it doesn’t mean elearning can’t cater to different learning types. In the same course you can present information in a number of different ways, such as video, voice-overs, drag and drop interactions and written text to ensure that every type of learner can get the most out of your course.
Not only does this help people learn in the way they feel is best, not everyone fits neatly into each category of learner. Giving the same information in different formats can really help your audience retain what they’re being taught during their course.
5. There’s no way for the learner to provide feedback to the trainer
A common complaint by those not in the know regarding elearning, and typically made by people who are more used to face-to-face and classroom style training, is that there isn’t a way for people undertaking elearning to give feedback to the person creating the course to ensure that improvements can be made. In a classroom setting, this might take the format of an informal question and answer session at the end of a course, or via evaluation forms.
It’s just as easy, if not easier, to put feedback mechanisms into your online courses. These can range from evaluation surveys to consolidation exercises and open text questions and answers which can really help steer your learning design decision making in the future.
It’s important to pay attention to how well your learners are doing in the evaluation process after a course; are they answering questions correctly? Are there questions that are consistently answered incorrectly across your learning cohort? If so, it’s worth revisiting your course design to ensure the information is being put across clearly to the learner.
6. It’s expensive
This might be one of the more surprising myths to you as it’s long been known that elearning is a great cost-effective alternative to traditional face-to-face training, but there are still people out there who feel that elearning can be expensive, especially when you’re looking at the upfront cost of buying a catalogue of courses for your entire learning cohort.
When put in terms of efficiencies and saving though, elearning consistently comes out on top of other training types.
It’s important to consider some of the other costs involved with training, such as travel, accommodation and lost time. Elearning helps to cut this down significantly, with courses generally being shorter and able to be completed at a time and pace that suits the learner, not the trainer.
Time is the biggest factor in training costs, and when you multiply the time saving per course by the number of employees, the result can be a saving of thousands of person-hours and pounds by using elearning instead of traditional methods.
Not only does it save time for the learner, but the right authoring tool also helps to save time for the course creator or learning designer, with a course in Nimble Author taking as little as 10 minutes to put together for bite-sized content.
We hope you enjoyed this article and feel that we’ve helped debunk some of the common misconceptions around elearning.