It is a sad fact that pretty much anyone who has used a computer has:

  • taken an e-learning course…
  • formed an opinion that e-learning is boring, and if it is boring then
  • it is doubtful it will have achieved its learning objectives.

Therefore, the first time we sit down with clients, even though they are telling us they want an e-learning course developed, we know exactly two things about them:

  1. they’ve been scarred by e-learning, and
  2. their decision has probably been more due to circumstances than preference.

Okay, so everyone that has a strong connection with the learning and development industry knows that

All e-learning is not created equal.

But how do we convey that to the client?

First of all, we never use the term e-learning. I mean, never. Because as soon as you do, the client (whether they are aware of it or not) automatically associates discussions with those deep e-learning scars they harbor.

What we do is re-frame their requirements in three terms:

  • EFFECTIVE
  • MANAGED
  • MEASURED

Let’s take them one by one:

Effective learning

This is probably what your client has thought about – the training course.

We use the term effective learning to immediately put some distance between ourselves and the monotonous ‘CLICK – READ – CLICK – READ – CLICK’ e-learning. We talk in terms of blended learning, a combination of words, pictures, videos, interactions, gamification, that constantly engage the learner and keep them attentive.

Managed learning

The next term we discuss is how the content is managed, and we have a library of questions which, based on responses, leads to further questions…

The first question we lead with attempts to identify their learning plaform(s), for example:

Do you have an LMS (Learning Management System)?

Now of course we know that all LMSs are not created equal, and any limitations impact the effective content that can be designed.

As we delve deeper into the managed term discussions, we typically collate business requirements. We listen, and more often than not, we then need to reset expectations about what is feasible based on their learning platform (or lack of) and also the management overhead of these business requirements.

Measured learning

The final term we discuss is how success will be measured.

As a small/medium business owner, ROI (Return On Investment) is critical to our success – and yet I’m often amazed by how much corporate learning content is created with no data being generated on whether

  • the content is viewed,
  • if it has been effective, and
  • if any follow up (accountability) is carried on.

It is important to remember that when the effective content is well managed, it can easily provide measured data on engagement, with very little overhead. Of course measuring training effectiveness is another discussion – but the traditional ‘happy sheets’ at the end of all training programs that we trainers love to give out do an adequate job on obtaining the learner’s initial thoughts.

So, to all those learners who have had to endure my early e-learning courses I offer my sincerest apologies – and all I can say is that I will constantly strive to ensure we only create effective content that is managed and provides meaningful measurement.


For more information about Graham, check out his personal website.

Author: Graham Hall

Graham Hall has a ton of L&D experience under his belt, having helped numerous small and large businesses to implement successful training solutions over the years. Graham is a passionate advocate of the Reusable Learning Object methodology, which he applies for every client of his company, Learning Specialists.