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A Few Best Practices for Successful e-Learning

Written By Shalini Merugu

A Few Best Practices for Successful e-Learning

E-Learning, as with any other change initiative, comes with its share of challenges and it requires a great deal of thought to devise a cohesive strategy that addresses all parts of the challenge. While there is no magic formula, we can overcome most challenges relatively painlessly by adopting a few best practices that successful organizations the world over have used to in readiness of their implementation of e-learning. A few of these are outlined here.

It is critical to understand that e-learning is more than just successfully designing and deploying online learning. It calls for a paradigm shift in the minds of all concerned people – learners, training departments, management, and leadership. We need to treat e-learning as a change initiative, and factor for thorough planning and strategizing as with any other change. The support for e-learning has to be driven from the top down if it is to be an effective initiative. For this to happen, communication plays a key role. Communicate the reality of your e-learning initiative to the management and leadership team and let them become champions – their support is critical for learner motivation. This is the surest way to get employee buy-in as well. Once they see that the initiative is being taken seriously by the leadership, it will become a business priority for them too. Besides, without proper support from leadership, there is every possibility of the initiative never taking off the ground or being dismissed as a passing fad even by line-managers. Getting leadership buy-in doesn’t stop with getting budgets sanctioned. You need them on board before, during and after the entire duration of the launch of the e-learning initiative.

Much before you get into design and development, it is important to ensure that the people on board the e-learning project have clearly defined set of roles and responsibilities. Without clearly defined expectations and deliverables, a lot of important details can get overlooked till very late into the project – creating unnecessary stress and panic all around. Establish clear standards of acceptance for each deliverable. Compliance really matters in sending across the right message for your e-learning initiative. Establish sound project management – especially a method for ongoing communication and escalation paths during bottlenecks and dead-ends in the project.

The tips shared here might seem too obvious to be stated, but it helps to recall them. At the end of the day, every little bit goes a long way towards a smooth and successful e-learning implementation.

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  • Ina Kruger

    You say the tips you share above may be too obvious to be stated, but I think (and wish) everyone in e-learning should know this.

    I would also like to share the following:
    1.Don’t make any assumptions – you will end up reworking. Ask lots of questions and test test test. If someone tells you it works, go into the system and make sure it works!
    2. Create a prototype and have actual users test it (on the live system if there is no test system) – this helps users buy in and prevents later rework, stress and delays.
    3. Pilot the course before go-live – let your client nominate a group of at least 10 users picked from each user profile if applicable, and take their input seriously, they will find the mistakes you overlooked and prevent fixes after go-live, and as an added bonus they will “sell” the course to the business. But make sure you are prepared and that everything works, you can set yourself and your hard work up for failure if logons don’t work or animations don’t play. And trust me, they will be critical, but don’t take input personally, it is not about you, in the end you want your users to enjoy the course and really learn something.

  • M Shalini

    Thanks for sharing those tips on actual deployment Ina. Nothing like some candid feedback from your end-users at various stages (prototype and pilot testing) to help deliver an effective eLearning solution! It’s true that many wonderfully devised eLearning programs have failed for the simple reason that someone failed to test them before rollout and learners were put off by glitches that were in fact highly-avoidable and could have been caught during a pilot testing. On the other hand, end-users who had an educational and enjoyable learning experience ended up being powerful champions of those eLearning solutions. And, as eLearning professionals, we could all do with a few champions on our side!