More bullseyes and less bull. Some fundamental tips on getting to a successful e-learning programme
Why do some e-learning programmes fail to reach their potential?
It is a fact of life that despite best efforts and good intentions, some e-learning programmes fail to live up to their promise; they fall short in terms of outcomes, or don’t get used, or they overspend in relation to results.
This is frustrating when it applies to something like lifelong learning but it can have serious consequences when it comes to a much needed e-learning course on, say, compliance. One potential result is that your organisation fails to meet the required standards, leaving you exposed to criticism or even legal action by the regulator. But it can also harm the reputation of e-learning with your staff and make it more difficult to sell the idea in future initiatives.
So what separates the hits from the misses, and what can be done to deliver more bullseyes than bull?
Begin with the end in mind
One thing that often doesn’t get airtime in planning is the issue of goal setting and measurement. After all, everyone understands who the audience is, so what’s the point in worrying about it? The goal is obvious isn’t it? Trained, compliant employees.
This may be the case, but writing it down in a way that can be measured, benchmarked and reported on is absolutely essential. If this doesn’t happen, there will, absolutely guaranteed, be trouble down the line.
Understanding how users are using the tools you’re giving them is fundamental and you can achieve this understanding by tracking their behaviour on the system and talking to them.
Getting the word out takes cash
The idea of your project is to save money. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be free, in terms of cash, or human resources.
Setting a realistic budget is as important for this as it would be for any other project the company undertakes. Which is why it’s strange that many people don’t!
How much of the budget will you allow for marketing? I can hear you shouting at the screen, nothing! It’s an internal project. Well fine, but if you don’t explain this new approach (i.e., get down to marketing it within your own organisation) then it will fail. For many people embarking on e-learning a degree of culture shift will be required. Leaving some budget in the pot to tackle this will pay dividends.
The measure of all things
Without solid data about your programme’s successes and failures, you cannot hope to improve it. So deciding on a way to evaluate it is essential. There are many ways to measure an e-learning programme, ranging from exam results to participant interaction, feedback surveys, training budget saved, efficiency gains and impact on the bottom line.
This all might sound daunting, and because it can be hard to know where to start, we produced a series of articles looking at evaluation and improvement this summer. You can find them here.
Top Tip: asking questions…
If you think of your new e-learning project as a venture that needs to scale then you’re thinking along the right lines. Once that mindset is instilled, there are some questions that you might want to think about:
How do I increase email open rates? How do I create an identity for the project? How can I increase month-to-month usage? How do I speed up my content update cycle? How do I get meaningful feedback from users? How do I get the most out of my marketing budget? How can I use data for marketing?
How can you organise the answers to all these questions of planning, budget and evaluation? Earlier this year, we launched a new product for e-learning designers called Coracle Canvas. It’s a really easy way to organise your thoughts and your content before you kick off a new project.
Canvas is already helping our existing clients. If you think it could help you, why not get in touch?