What are the key challenges preventing e-learning success?

What prevents success in the creation and implementation of an system?  While there are numerous obstacles preventing the success of any endeavor, the e-learning systems, because they are relatively new and somewhat unknown, certainly create their share of pitfalls, and then some.  Obstacles can often be found in every aspect of e-learning…from content development through delivery to effectiveness.

Let’s examine the issue, then, as a body of mistakes:

  1. Wrong approach to content development:  Although desired outcomes are the same for traditional training and e-learning, instructional design methods often fail to account for this. In simple terms, to be effective, e-learning must find new ways to involve the student in the learning process. The material will be ineffective if delivered simply as a textbook. It must become totally interactive so that we can replace (to some extent) the classroom instructor with increased student involvement. This means relying more heavily on exercises, quizzes, simulations and assignments than we would in a traditional environment; we need to duplicate to the extent possible the “see, do” method of training, allowing the student an opportunity to practice the new learning. And we need to do this frequently throughout the course.
  2. Wrong authoring tools: The tools you use to create e-learning must align with your training objectives. Authoring tools enable instructors or designers to build courses and supporting materials such as quizzes and simulations. Consider: Do you really want to propose training your current instructors in the use of Captivate? How about Flash?Remember, too, that today virtually all software packages that are used to create
    e-learning courseware require licensing. A relatively simple program that converts PowerPoint to a SCORM compliant Flash package, such as Articulate Presenter, can cost upward of $1,400. And that’s  per seat!  This feature is built into the eLeaP system and is free.

Authoring programs that are platform specific (e.g., Windows XP) will require maintenance in order to keep them current with new technology. This, of course, is generally not free; unless, that is, you are using a hosted e-learning platform that is essentially “rented” (such as eLeaP), and includes upgrades and maintenance. Programs such as these are often known today as Software as a Service, or SAAS (and sometimes simply SAS).

However, there are going to be occasions where you may require specialized training tools, for example if you are training students in the use of a particular software package. In this case, you can use programs such as Captivate or Camtasia that simulate the actual working environment and allow users to develop skills without affecting “live” data. If you lack the resources in house for doing this, a third party contractor might be a good choice. Or even better, if you are using a system such as eLeaP, you can find specific expertise through its customization capabilities.

  1. Wrong system employed for training: The systems you use for courseware development, delivery, learning management and assessment must integrate with one another. Think of them as tools. But remember, to a hammer, everything is a nail.

You must, therefore, choose a Learning Management System with the flexibility to host a variety of courseware types…from interactive simulations to Flash video to real-time problem solving. For example, have a look at eLeaP’s Learning Management System (www.eleapsoftware.com). It has the flexibility to host virtually any type of courseware that is SCORM compliant. A lack of this flexibility will severely limit the materials that can be delivered to the student.

You must also consider the system’s ease of use. As with the eLeaP system, students must be able to gain easy access and find an intuitive interface that requires little or no training. The system must work on virtually all platforms using any standard web browser. It must operate flawlessly so that, from the learners’ perspective, the fact that the content is being delivered electronically is secondary to the learning process.

  1. Wrong level of investment: There are many systems available today that require virtually no startup funding and that can be deployed in practically no time at all, e.g., the eLeaP LCMS. Why, then, would you want to consider a system that costs upward of $250,000 to start and requires a significant amount of resources to implement?  After all, these are not full-blown ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems that must integrate all organizational functions.

Avoid the heavy sales pitch that uses the scare tactics of systems integration capabilities. Generally speaking, a simple Application Programming Interface (API) can be developed at minimal cost to integrate any into the organization’s Learning and Development recording system. Also keep in mind that many of these complex  require a good deal of expensive, specialized technical support and training just to create courseware that is compatible with the delivery system. Again, the fact is that systems such as eLeaP require no programming or startup costs at all, deployment support is free, implementation and online training is free and 24/7 customer support is free.

To download free valuable e-learning white papers, go to http://www.eleapsoftware.com/free-training-resources/. Contact eLeaP LMS & Training software for e-learning and business training questions.

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