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4 Reasons Why Outdated eLearning Is a Hazard

At some point, the learning that we create will outdate. Technology is made to be replaced, and the devices that we test eLearning on become old and irrelevant within a few years. Good design has a slightly longer shelf life, but if you want to grab and hold your audience (especially the younger generations), an updated design is essential for a good user experience (UX).

It can be easy to think that, perhaps since your company policies has barely changed, your learning’s still in good shape. After all, your learners probably won’t notice that the design is slightly dated, right? And engagement and learning won’t be affected because of the large amounts of text and voiceover, right? After all, it’s important that your learners learn everything they need to know.

While it is good to hit all the information points, unfortunately, outdated eLearning is proven to affect learning and engagement. In fact, in some cases of safety and compliance training, outdated learning can do more than affect learner retention — it can be a hazard to learner safety.

Curious about how your eLearning measures up? Keep these four things in mind when you evaluate your compliance and safety training.

1. Is your content up-to-date?

For much of learning, some standards last 20 years and others change every year, depending on what new research has been discovered or what technology has been updated. With that rate of turnover, you can expect some of the information, the content that is the very foundation of your training, to change every year.

If your training hasn't been updated in several years — maybe even a decade —you can expect there to be some major changes (both in content and design) that should be reflected in your training. And while it may be tempting to just leave that behemoth asleep, updated learning has the power and potential to greatly increase your ROI and lead to higher employee satisfaction.

2. Have you tested the user experience?

User experience (UX) first grew into an official term in the 1990s, and it describes the way designers intentionally enhance each user's experience by designing a website, app, or learning module to be simple, enjoyable, and intuitive to use. Take a look at the following three UX checks. Does your eLearning measure up?

Is your user experience simple?

Is your eLearning straightforward? Can the learner log into their learning and end up right where they left off? Does your navigation make it easy for the learner to switch between pages, lessons, or even devices? Often, a great way to help decrease user frustration is to include simple instructions alongside straightforward navigation.

Is your user experience intuitive?

Is your eLearning simple enough to use that it’s intuitive? For example, if your learners have never used it before, can they log in and begin learning with little to no direction? A great user experience follows a common format, no matter the platform. For example, menus are in similar locations, the exit button is fixed, and the headlines and body copy provide the same visual hierarchy of information.

Consistency and simplicity are key for an intuitive learning experience. If your users can’t log in, navigate without assistance, and experience frustration-free learning, then you might need to take a closer look at your UX.

Is your user experience enjoyable?

Does your eLearning create an enjoyable experience for the learner? This is where many eLearning courses fall short. When learners don’t feel frustrated by confusing navigation or lost from long stretches of voiceover, they enjoy the experience, leading to a greater connection with the learning.

3. Are you speaking your team’s learning language?

Some teams keep the development of training in house. Others work with a partner design agency to create custom eLearning. And still others purchase existing training for their team, especially in areas regarding compliance and safety. No matter how you get your learning, it's important to look out for how that learning message is delivered.

Who is your audience?

What do your learners enjoy? Do they prefer learning on mobile or desktop? What generation are they from? Depending on your audience, they may interact with your learning in completely different ways. For example, video is one of the best ways to learn, no matter the generation. Do you leverage that in your eLearning?

How is your eLearning written?

The voice and tone of your eLearning is critically important. If you want to train sales reps to be friendly and conversational with clients, then you need that training presented in a conversational way. If your training is for ESL learners, you need your training written at a sixth grade level (or lower). If you’re teaching doctors about operating room procedures, you need your learning written in a professional and straightforward tone.

One of the fastest ways you can lose learners is by the writing. If the writing is too formal or complicated, your learner will grow frustrated and confused. If it’s too simple, your learner might feel condescended to and grow offended. If there is too much text, the learner will lose focus. Try to balance your voice and tone with the learning subject, the audience, and your company’s official brand voice.

Does your eLearning speak directly to the learner?

Learners want to know why the learning matters to them. For example, most teams don't expect compliance and safety training to be engaging. It’s often considered mandatory training that’s stuffy, boring, and quickly forgotten. But compliance and safety training, when tailored to the audience, is a great opportunity to appeal to the learner’s emotions by focusing on the effects an injury, for example, might have on their family and their career.

Instead of making compliance and safety seem like the company police, a learner-tailored approach makes it personal — and a lot more memorable and engaging.

4. Have you considered new technology?

Technology is always on the move. If you’re going to update your eLearning, leverage the right technology to make sure that you are putting your learning in the best position to reach as many people as possible for as long as possible. To do this, keep up-to-date with the latest technology. While this might sound expensive at first, it means that your learning works cross-platform for a longer period of time.

You can also avoid a crisis when an older technology stops updating or is discontinued. (Still using Adobe Flash? Back in 2017, Adobe announced that they will stop updating Flash in 2020.)

Keep moving forward

As much as we’d sometimes like change to slow down (for at least a year, dang it!), the progress machine keeps rolling forward. At some point within the next few years, your learning will outdate, your learners will notice, and the level of engagement will decline.

Before this problem becomes time sensitive (at least, more than it already is), take an hour, sit down at your computer, and log in to your company eLearning. How does it measure up to these four questions?

Make sure your eLearning isn't a hazard, for both the sake of learner safety and learner retention.

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