10 tips to enhance your organisation’s e-learning

by Brett Henebery26 Oct 2016
Boosting your employees’ motivation and engagement in e-learning can be a challenge, but with the right tools in place, navigating this challenge can be seamless.

Across different organisations, the methods and tools used to do this may vary, but there are some general principles that can prove an effective starting point for any employer.

As an article published by Mind Tools recently suggested, the secret to engaging anyone in any sort of learning – including e-learning – is to make it relevant, interesting interactive.

However, it points out that interactivity doesn’t necessarily equate with “being interesting.”

As Lindsey Mack, of the learning materials producer CloudQast says: “The book ‘The Da Vinci Code’ may be ‘interesting’ but it’s not interactive.”

Lindsey believes that making e-learning engaging involves meeting the learner’s implicit question of “what’s in it for me?”

He adds that the e-learning materials should be both purposeful and conversational, be easily navigable, accessible by any mobile device, and kept “bite-sized” and searchable – in the manner of the successful short videos available on YouTube.

The caveat to all this, though, is that some 75-80% of all corporate learning – including e-learning – relates to regulatory and compliance issues.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if these programs are relevant, interesting and interactive, because people have to complete them to keep their jobs and careers.

Yet it’s still worth trying to make even these learning materials popular, so that people will elect to learn even when they don’t have to keep their jobs.
Here are 10 things (in no particular order) that you can do to make e-learning relevant, interesting and interactive:
  1. Gamification (1). There are two aspects to this. The first is using games to engage the learner.
  2. Gamification (2). The other aspect of gamification is to use badges and/or league tables to encourage learners to learn – and to become recognized as a “top learner.” However, this approach can demotivate some people, especially those who aren’t “sales–oriented” or ambitious for recognition.
  3. Use of video. This reduces the “page-turning” element of e-learning. According to CloudQast’s Damian Gaskin, “We can now make video non-linear, for example using a menu and hotspots that allow users to move around a video.”
  4. Allow the learners to determine their own learning programs. This reduces prescribing learning, in terms of the time and content allocated for study, and allows learners to learn what they want when they want to learn it. This puts the learner in control of the learning. While being highly motivating for the learner, the L&D professional/employer loses an element of control over the learning that’s taking place.
  5. Empower L&D specialists to be curators of learning, not prescribers or even deliverers of learning. This calls for a new skill set for L&D specialists, and it gives the learners more control over their learning.
  6. Allow learners to apply what they’ve learned in the workplace. This is crucial because it gives them a reason to learn. However, this means that you need to address the other issues that tend to lie dormant – such as managers fearing their subordinates are now cleverer and/or more skilled than them and “sabotaging” the learning’s application.
  7. Don’t make doing e-learning a punishment or imposition.
  8. Encourage subject matter experts to produce learning content that follows instructional design principles, such as ADDIE, taking account of Keller’s ARCS and so on. In other words, subject matter experts need to be more than just subject matter experts. They need to be trainers too.
  9. Don’t forget “learning principles” by being distracted by “shiny” technology. E-learning isn’t going to be great just because it uses technology.
  10. Offer learners incentives to complete the learning. This could include certificates, badges, (transferable) qualifications, status, and/or money.


  • by Raghida Zamzam 1/11/2016 9:37:36 AM

    Nice post! I agree with you on that subject-matter experts should produce an engaging learning content that follows instructional design principles. The instructional designer may need to adopt the problem solving approach after conducting a thorough analysis of the audience or the learners to determine the number and types of appropriate tactics to include. While ADDIE comprises the father of instructional designs models; it is based on a systematic product development concept. Reiser and Dempsey (2012), noted that ADDIE continues to be an effective instructional tool today although it is not specific or a fully elaborated model. However, according to Bates (2010), the instructional systems design model is ineffective and does not work. As a result, no one uses it although many of the contemporary instructional models stem their strategies from ADDIE (Bates, 2010). One of the drawbacks of using ADDIE as mentioned by Reiser and Dempsey (2012) is that it breaks up complex skills into separate smaller components without integrating them into a coherent unit. The future trend of instructional design should focus on the “whole task” or the Pebble-in-the-Pond models where the learner will be introduced to progressively harder tasks to complete and integrate them at the end of the course (Reiser & Dempsey, 2012). The effective instructional design model should include a combination of learning theories, behavioral, cognitive, situated, constructive, and Gagne’s theory. The behavioral theory’s main concern is to study the psychology of the learner. Meanwhile, the cognitive theory studies the brain’s capacity of absorbing new information. The situated theory focuses more on the learning environment, including classroom setting or online setting. The constructive theory is where the new information will be built upon the prior knowledge of the learner. The Gagne’s theory is to stimulate the learners and attract their attention (Reiser & Dempsey, 2012).

    Bates, T. (2010). The future of instructional design – or my heart belongs to ADDIE. Retrieved from http://www.tonybates.ca/2010/06/08/the-future-of-instructional-design-or-my-heart-belongs-to-addie/
    Reiser, R. A., & Dempsey, J. V. (2012). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: PEARSON.

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