Successful e-learning implementations are too rare.They start with all the right intentions,but somewhere along the line the momentum falters,and with it any real positive impact.Rolling out an effective e-learning curriculum must go beyond the flashy tools; it has to have a solid foundation before the first storyboard is created.There are five critical success factors that transcend the ever-changing tools in our industry.They are as follows:
Measured Results –The most important decision is to define what constitutes as a “win.” Just as important is to get agreement on these success metrics from all stakeholders.There is no way to determine the positive impact (or ROI) from the initiative without getting the desired results defined upfront and by establishing universal buy-in.
Personalization –Successful, high-impact e-learning is tailored to the learners’ career path, aspirations, interest and skills.While this type of customization may seem daunting, the use of basic branching techniques is a great way to create the personalization that retains learner attention.
Learning Delivery –In addition to audio, every e-learning course should have a transcript, or outline, available to print.If actionable process steps are discussed in the course, then high-level job aids should also be made available for future reference.
User Experience –Much of the new workforce has been exposed to e-learning for quite some time,so it will require creativity to keep learners engaged with the content.Inserting various hot-spots and other dynamic components creates a hands-on experience.Adding branching scenarios, videos,puzzles, and simulations further increases the user engagement.
Support Systems –Implementing an LMS from the beginning phases of a project ensures that it is part of the long-term strategy.A robust LMS also centralizes reporting,which can assist in the overall learning strategy.Today’s LMS platforms are full of flashy features that can be scaled up or down according to the organization’s needs.An e-learning initiative’s success is arguably most influenced by those within the organization that rally for the cause and inevitably influence the opinion of the masses.Do the project a favor by identifying these influencers early, and give them a personal stake in the success of the program.As with anything in life, there are sometimes uncontrollable factors that derail even the most well thought-out plan. However,by controlling the controllables,you ensure a high probability of success for the e-learning project,and the impact of similar initiatives to come.
—Justin Ferriman is a learning and collaboration consultant with Accenture LLP where he works with clients on implementing instructor and web-based learning initiatives.Additionally,he is the founder of LearnDash,a social learning management system built on the popular WordPress open-source software.