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Why E-Learning Course Design Fails

Unless your company is endowed with extensive resources and top-class development skills, you are likely to design your e-learning course on a tight budget and within a complex time frame.

If this is your reality, you will almost certainly use e-learning tools to create your finished product. Whichever tool you use (and there are a dozen of them to choose from) it will be both a blessing and a curse.

Blessings because they can help you do all sorts of things quickly and easily. Damn because they can limit your thinking and creativity.

The only major flaw of many e-learning designs is the tendency to create very dry content-oriented courses featuring screens and screens of text. Students are treated like mushrooms, expected to absorb this content with little or no time for practice or reflection. Multimedia elements and interactions were added to "revive" this text.

E-learning tools contribute significantly to this problem in many ways. Most writing tools encourage designers to think of content in terms of linear screens, which are arranged in a hierarchy. To support this thinking, many tools offer the possibility of importing ready-made PowerPoint slides.

Based on this, the creation tool offers the possibility of overlaying individual screens with multimedia elements such as audio, video, animation and graphics. In addition, pre-designed interactions can be added to the screen, such as multiple choice questions or drag and drop functions.

It wasn't long before course designers were creating more than attractive online books and high-quality multimedia presentations. The finishing touches are a series of tests given at the end of each piece of content to convince everyone that learning can actually happen.

Students are forced to take courses and take exams. Very little learning occurs (other than retrieving short-term memory to pass exams). The students were bored and annoyed. Everyone's time is wasted and your e-learning fails.

To avoid this common dreaded situation from recurring, course designers need to do two things.

First, instead of letting the build tool control your build tool. In short, the functionality of the builder tool should not guide the development of your course.

With this first step, course designers are well on their way to taking the second step: breaking out of the restraints of content-based thinking. This also includes thinking about the world your students live in and reflecting on this reality in your e-learning.