We run an executive coaching and professional development/training company and use eLearning in a blended format of developing management and leadership. We also have hundreds of hours of eLearning content - mostly high def fully scripted video that we have produced in our studios over the last 15 or so years. As far as content design goes, the majority of our budget is spent in research and content development.


Most of our new customers are thrilled with the level and simplicity of the eLearning we provide. Their complaints about what they were using 'before' run along similar themes. They hate juvenile avatars, 'crappy' eLearning that taught them too little in the time they allocate for learning, and elearning that is designed by people who have never run a team, department, or company. The things they like: Designers who think in terms of implementation, ease of learning and time it takes to 'get' the knowledge. Being able to access from anywhere without too much interaction (these tend to slow learning down and provide very little ROI). They don't like having to jump around (and we are finding more and more of this 'branching in eLearning even though it runs counter to what eLearners like!). They hate poor quality video and prefer voice over PowerPoint to this! This feedback (my opinion) should be the primary drivers for eLearning designers/producers. Too often this is an afterthought. Also, we get feedback that quizzing and testing is annoying unless it has a specific purpose.


Bottom line: Most learners are fairly intelligent - and they really don't like their precious time being wasted. One final thought, the CEOs and CFOs we speak to are starting to eye what they are spending on eLearning development and they are examining at ROI and getting feedback 'from the field'. Most are not at all pleased because costs are escalating and on the whole eLearning is not being well received by managers and employees (see some of the reasons above).


I am venting because this week I went through of eLearning that was required for all employees of a client company and HATED IT! It took three hours to go through material that could have been taught in 30 minutes. It was immature and repetitive, too many silly 'quizzes', an avatar that kept asking me if I was having 'fun' (I wasn't!) and finally 'le coup de grace' - it forced me through a questionnaire skewed to provide positive feedback to the Training Department :). No wonder the eLearners in that company hate eLearning!


We are suggesting that companies start 'sharing' course-ware and that they start vetted the content more thoroughly with management prior to 'producing’. Most important, my advice is very specific: Don’t let people who haven’t been there/done that be in charge of deploying or developing eLearning – unless you want unhappy employees or to waste a lot of resources as well as your leadership capital J


Starting with the agenda, learning objectives, delivery, and costs – it has to be professionally done – and by the way – this takes hundreds of thousands of dollars to do right – so I ask: why are companies getting into this when it isn’t their core business? Why aren’t they looking to the professionals to guide them. From what I am seeing, leadership is being told that producing eLearning internally will ‘save’ money. Next thing they know, they are overrunning budgets, they are hiring developers, their IT personnel are building an eLearning platform and they are increasing servers capacity (eLearning has to be hosted somewhere!), and before you know it they are at 10x the budget in hidden costs alone! Here’s the analogy I just gave an executive team this week: If you knew that your employees needed to learn about Program Management, what the smartest thing be to hire some authors, start a publishing company, hire a bunch of trainers, and build a bank of offices to house all of this new functions? Or would you look at some more cost effective means of getting your folks that information? Perhaps buy some books, send the ones who are going to use the information to a training class, hire an experienced trainer to come in and deliver a day or two of training, hire one experienced manager/expert to bring the knowledge in-house? Bottom line: Think about eLearning along the same lines as you would in bringing knowledge to you employees as you have in the past. It worked. Focus on your core business and bring in external organizations whose core business it is to educate, train and develop personnel. Here it my final question to you when making this decision: Would you depend on internal inexperienced resources to build this? And if you did – how precisely would you hold them accountable? Budget, knowledge transfer, implementation of that knowledge into the business practices, increased revenue (as in Sales Training), etc. – these are some of the metrics we talk to leadership about.


Just thoughts to digest... We have to make sure this industry moves forward and becomes a driving force in development. We can only achieve that by engaging a satisfied eLearner. Thoughts?


All the best,


Hellen Davis

CEO Indaba