Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has become the lifeblood of many organizations. This metamorphosis of the business world has not only impacted business owners and their employees but also trainers and learning content developers.
Even before the pandemic, the e-learning industry was growing apace, predicted to generate nearly $375 billion by 2026. In fact, in 2019, it was estimated that businesses spent an average of 16% of their organizational budget on employee training and technologies. The ground was already primed for expert trainers and content developers to capitalize on this burgeoning industry.
The e-learning industry has also morphed, requiring expert trainers and content developers to meet the rapid surge in demand for online training content, including content for client organizations seeking to quickly transition from in-person to online training. Given the scope and urgency of the demand for e-learning content today, there are specific strategies that content developers need to follow to ensure that they are delivering premium content to their clients and maximizing the revenue and growth potential of their product. It begins by identifying and avoiding the five most common mistakes in training content development.
1. Not Having Them at “Hello”
You’re probably familiar with the adage that “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” What’s true in life is also true in e-learning. If your content does not engage learners from the beginning, then it’s not going to be successful for your client—or for you.
So, it’s imperative to launch your training content with a “hook” that will capture learners’ interest and motivate them to stick with the course all the way to the finish line. Meeting that goal means you’ll need to be both creative and pragmatic—a storyteller and entertainer, as well as a strategist and utilitarian.
Launching the course with a clear and highly specific articulation of the course goals, objectives, and requirements, for example, has been shown to engage and motivate learners and thus increase their overall learning. After all, adult learners often have precious little time to invest in their e-learning. They need to immediately understand what the training is about and exactly how they will benefit from it, whether in the form of relevant knowledge gain or skill acquisition, expansion, or refreshment.
2. Not Providing Multiple Learning Modalities
Today’s learners are busier and more mobile than perhaps ever before. What’s more, their learning needs are incredibly diverse. So, if you’re using a one-size-fits-all approach to your content development, then you’re never going to create a premium product for your client.
Too many training courses rely on a single modality, requiring learners to plop down in front of their laptop or computer and endure a lecture, with perhaps few graphics and a random caption thrown in. At best, these old-school forms may give the learner the chance to pause and return to the course later. But in general, they do little to engage the learner, accommodate their unique learning style, or reflect the environment or conditions in which the learning occurs.
Optimizing learner experience means your courses should perform on all devices and browsers. For example, in addition to testing on a desktop or laptop, ensure that your content is mobile responsive by testing on smartphones and tablets as well. You should confirm that appropriate data, such as quiz score and completion status, are recorded correctly. It’s also important to remember that diversifying your content is about more than presenting the same material in different forms. Rather, it’s about using each content type to complement and link to the others. For example, in your audio narration, don’t settle for simply reading the content on the screen. Allow your audio narration to supplement, amplify, and reinforce the material on the screen. This way, you’ll know that learners are getting an optimal experience and your clients are getting their money’s worth!
3. Not Using Microlearning
Adult learners aren’t schoolkids in casual business attire. They don’t have the luxury or perhaps even the desire to devote hours each day to absorbing massive amounts of content. When you’re developing content for adult learners, you’re competing with the myriad other things vying for their time and attention.
That means you need to avoid demanding too much of a learner’s time in each lesson, module, and assignment. Above all, you must be careful to avoid causing cognitive overload. Chunking your content into easily digestible five- to fifteen-minute “microlearning” lessons will prevent learners from becoming overwhelmed and frustrated and help them engage better and retain more. Also, the microlearning approach is ideal for learners who are on the move, as they can easily watch a mini-lesson on their smartphone during their morning subway commute or while waiting to pick up their kid from soccer or ballet.
4. Not Making the Course Navigable
The last thing that an adult learner needs is to take a course just to learn how to use the course. If your course isn’t designed for navigability, the chances are that learners aren’t going to complete it—or at the very least, they’re not going to engage as deeply or learn as much as they could or should.
There are certain navigability tools that are essential, no matter the course. These include the ability for learners to search content; pull up course objectives, requirements, and schedules on demand; track their own progress throughout; and easily steer through modules with distinct Previous, Next, Exit, and Resume buttons. In addition, since adult learners are unlikely to have either the time or the focus to complete an entire course in one sitting, it’s critical that they can easily save their work and return to where they left off at another time.
5. Not Keeping Up with Your Course
Let’s be honest: you may love your work. You probably find it fascinating and challenging. Perhaps you can’t imagine doing anything else. But interest and passion don’t pay the bills or put food on the table.
Your professional success depends on the success of your courses. But one of the biggest and most common mistakes that training developers make is failing to track the performance of their courses. The set-it-and-forget-it approach is no way to grow your business.
So, even after your courses go on the market or are delivered into the hands of your clients, that doesn’t and shouldn’t mean you’re done with them. Rather, now is the time to continue with the functionality and learner experience testing across all modalities and begin monitoring your courses’ analytics.
Gathering data on things like learner completion rates, times, and scoring, as well as client retention and account growth, will help you identify what is working well with each course and with your development practices in general. This will also give you the essential information that you need to identify opportunities for improvement. With this, you can ensure that you are continuing to improve for your clients and their learners and that you are putting your business on a trajectory for continual growth!
There has perhaps never been a better time to be a training content developer. The industry is flourishing, and that trend is expected to continue. But if you want your business to flourish right along with it, then it’s imperative that you avoid the five common mistakes that can derail even the most brilliant courses and content creators. Once you’ve learned to evade these pitfalls, your business will be poised for success for years to come!
Here at Firmwater, we don’t just sell an LMS for training providers. We partner with our clients, giving them the tools and insights they need to implement the best practices in e-learning course development, growth, and delivery. We care too much about our customers’ businesses to have them wade through forums and chatbots for help.
Ready to use an LMS that’s designed for the way YOU work, with a team dedicated to YOUR needs? Book a no-obligation consultation directly with our team today!