Curtailing the Dropout Rates in Online Learning

View eBook on Best Practices for eLearning Design and Development

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Many organizations see e-learning as a great medium for training their worldwide workforce quickly and cost effectively. But the main problem they face with online learning is the huge dropout rates. Inspite of investing millions of dollars in online training, the completion rates are not satisfactory.

What can be the reasons for the dropout rates? What can we do, so that your employees participate in online training programs actively and complete them successfully?

Here, I would like to share some of the reasons why online courses have a high dropout rate and how to overcome them.

Reason #1: Lack of time 

Lack of time

Time management is critical for busy employees who always have to accomplish many tasks within a limited period of time. One of the major myths that we have about time is that ‘It can be managed.’ What we forget usually is that time is limited and it is the work that we need to manage as per the available time. If employees are to attend a classroom training program, they get a signed permission from their manager, but there is usually no such condition for online training programs. They still have a responsibility to work on their targets and need to meet timelines; at the same time, they should also focus on learning and growing. For this they actually need a high level of motivation and self-direction to squeeze time for taking the online training, which is not easy when no time is set aside for this purpose. As we all know, most of the employees’ time is predominantly occupied by issues related to work and family and not much is left to studying.


Plan and schedule: 

Plan and schedule

The training manager should plan/schedule properly without their employees leading to dropping out of the course. They can contact directly the supervisor and understand the work schedule of employees. This can help them to allot time and place to the employees to undergo on the e-learning module. Just like typical classroom training programs, they can send invites to the employees. Through email communication, a specific time to complete the course should be allocated for the employees. Next, the modules can be flexible and must be divided into sub-topics so that the employees are interested. Training managers can also give realistic deadlines to the employees to complete the courses on time.

Reason #2: Lack of motivation

Lack of motivation

In typical classroom training, there is face-to-face interaction with the instructor as well as with peers. In this case, employees might get a chance to visit another place for attending the training and this would be an intrinsic motivational factor. An external motivational factor can be if the employees are receiving certification or reward for a superior role as they complete the course. They are very unlikely to be motivated to complete a course if they see no obvious reason in devoting their time and effort to a task. In case of online courses, this can’t be true. They need to have a quantifiable reason to take time off to pursue online training, as they have the responsibility to work on their regular targets and need to meet timelines and work pressures to attend to.




In an organization, it is important to create a learning culture, and the training managers can motivate their employees by aligning the training objectives with their career goals so that they have a compelling reason to devote their time and effort to a task apart from their regular job to do. After the employees complete the course, the progress can be tracked through LMS. Training managers can keep them informed about their progress levels daily, appreciate them for obtaining good scores, and provide them with rewards. This can motivate them for taking the online courses. 

Reason #3: Poorly designed course

Poorly designed course

As we all know if a course is well designed, it is enough to grasp the employees’ attention and motivation. Online courses need to be designed keeping in mind the unique aspects of self-directed learning and we cannot just use the typical classroom training material for an e-learning course. We need to apply learning design principles. It is also important to have a balance of various learning objectives based on the course requirements, profile of learners, and the objectives of the course. If the courses are poorly designed, they will fail to capture the imagination of learners because of which they are likely to drop out mid-way without completing the course.


Engaging learner:

Engaging learner

E-learning developers need to give a definite structure and then follow proper flow of content in the course. They should not use complex terminology, that is, heavy text on screen. There should be a balance between the images and the text.

We can engage the employees by adding

This will engage the employees and they will not drop out mid-way without completing the course assigned to them.

Here you can see some more reasons for high dropout rates in online learning courses.

Reasons for high dropout rates in online learning courses

How do you ensure your online courses do not fail? Do you have any ideas to ensure that the learners complete the courses assigned to them without dropping out mid-way? If so, please share them with us.

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