Every New Year, millions of people make resolutions to kick their bad habits. They swear off biting their nails, eating junk food, or even spending large amounts of time on their phones. We’re proposing that in 2020, the learning industry should take a hint from this American tradition and kick some bad habits of its own. We sat down with our Learning team leads, Amy O’Donnell and Sebastian Fryer, to discuss the five trends in learning which they believe should expire in the new decade:

  1. Blah design
  2. Boring courses
  3. Info dump
  4. Unbranded courses
  5. Using eLearning as an easy fix

Why it’s past time to kick blah design

Poorly designed eLearning courses fail to generate engagement and don’t result in great learning. Courses that aren’t visually interesting can also create negative feelings toward your brand. Despite this, many companies still write learning courses that only focus on content and fail to prioritize design. But when design is lacking, it won’t matter how good the content is—learners won’t remember it anyways. 

Design matters so much because of user experience (UX). Blah design means a disconnect in UX, as learners will find poorly designed courses difficult to navigate, confusing, and inaccessible. When courses lack focus on UX design, the learner’s cognitive capacity for learning is limited as they must deal with the cognitive overload caused by the poor design. This means their engagement decreases and learning diminishes. 

As Amy, our design team leader, eloquently summarizes, “Layout and design must be a priority,” of any course in order to successfully foster learning.

Give boring courses the boot

Learning courses that consist of mundane presentations, cheesy messages, and voiceover that drones on and on need to be put to rest. These kinds of courses are deeply unengaging to learners, who stop paying attention and fail to learn

Although presentations and voice over courses may be quick and easy to create, they aren’t effective. Boring courses don’t stimulate the engagement that is necessary for learning.

Even more, these forms can be less accessible for your learners and potentially even more expensive if you look at ROI. For example, if your learning course is an ILT presentation, you first must hire these individuals to conduct your training. Then as your company grows, you hire more employees and need to train them in a variety of locations—increasing ILT costs. 

Creating a custom-made, innovative, and engaging eLearning course is a solution that easily scales with company growth, reduces overhead costs, and increases your learning ROI.

Why you should dump those info dumps

Another bad habit of learning courses is to bury learners in an avalanche of information. Creating a course that encompasses enormous amounts of information is known as info dump. Info dumps overwhelm learners and prevent learning from occurring. 

When learning courses have too much information (TMI), they present learners with too heavy of a cognitive load. This limits their capacity to learn because it’s impossible for learners to absorb all of the information thrown at them.

A more practical solution is to create courses that break information up into chunks. These courses are learner-centric, tailored to our short attention spans, and our limited capacity to absorb information. Instead of TMI, try breaking the information into chapters and adding engaging elements such as video, interactions, and storytelling. 

How unbranded courses cause disconnect

While off-the-shelf learning courses may appear cheap and quick to put together, these courses don’t have the advantage of being customized to fit your brand. Branded eLearning courses (learning customized to your brand) come with many benefits. 

Creating branded learning helps employees get to know your company’s culture, values, and goals. Branding learning also helps to build a relationship between your employees and your company during training, as they will see and understand how their role fits into the larger picture of the organization.

Unbranded courses are less impactful and fail to generate this connection between your employees and your company. Developing learning that is tailored to your brand will help increase learning and give your employees a better understanding of their roles, as well as what your company stands for.

Why you should avoid using eLearning as an easy fix

The last bad learning habit that needs to end before 2020 involves turning to learning as a quick and easy solution for performance problems, especially when it might not be the right answer. eLearning is an incredibly useful tool, but that doesn’t mean it’s the answer to every job performance problem.

For example, the solution you need might be something more along the lines of a performance support tool (PST). PSTs are assets designed to provide immediate, quick assistance to workers to apply skills and execute their jobs. They are highly user-friendly, convenient, and come in a variety of formats—pdf, app, etc.. For example, if you own a manufacturing plant and your employees are struggling to operate a new type of machinery, having a PST that they can access on their mobile device might be the right answer for you. 

Overall, it’s important to research and listen to your employees before developing a learning course. “Don’t take learning as the easy answer,” Sebastian, our content team lead, says. Make sure you know how and why your workers are struggling in their roles before you choose a solution to address the problem you are facing.

Start your learning right in 2020

From bad design to learning dumps, there’s a lot of learning trends that are past their expiration date. As we enter the new year, it’s time to leave them behind. Don’t wait until next year to kick your bad habits—start creating effective learning now.

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