When you’re in charge of online learning, you have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. One of the biggest reasons that trainees don’t succeed with online training, after all, is because they feel the courses aren’t properly designed or that the training itself was somehow limited in its offerings. It’s up to you to make sure that your online training is up to par, delivering above and beyond what employees expect so that they can reap the most benefits from the training process. Not only that, but the right training ensures that they can do their jobs correctly, as well. Online training mistakes happen. We get that.
The best way to avoid making major mistakes in your own online training courses is to know what the common issues are. Between that and knowing what employees want in online training modules, you will be able to set yourself up for a much better program than if you just dove in and started creating materials without putting thought into the process. Here are some free resources including white papers you can download.
Although there are a number of things that could go awry when developing online training materials, the ones listed here are among the most common and if nothing else, they will help you dig deeper to figure out where you’re going wrong even if they don’t offer a clear answer. Without further ado, here are our top 5 online training mistakes.
Mistake #1: Not Catering Content to the Audience
It’s not just about knowing who your employees are and how best to reach them. It’s about actually removing yourself from the material completely and removing your own bias and input from the creation process. It doesn’t matter how great those buzzwords look or how much you love that infographic slideshow if the material isn’t useful to your trainees, after all. You need to think about the people who will be using the training platform. Think about their specific job title or role, their education level, and their level of experience with technology.
Mistake #2: The Content is Too Long or Not Engaging Enough
Especially in today’s smartphone society, humans have notoriously short attention spans. If you really want people to pick up on training materials, break everything down into smaller segments and make sure there are plenty of breaks to keep people refreshed and focused. Ideally, you want your virtual training segments to be no longer than 10 minutes without some kind of break or you’re going to risk losing people. If they aren’t paying attention, they definitely aren’t learning, after all.
The best thing to do here is to plan out your training courses ahead of time and make sure that you have a full roadmap of each course from start to finish. That way, you can break the structure up in a way that flows well and still not overwhelm people with too much information at once. Also, if you know you have a complex topic coming up, prepare trainees and follow-up with a refresher to help them retain more information.
Mistake #3: Not Knowing What Training to Provide
Another big obstacle in creating online training courses is assuming that you know what training people need or trying to wing it because you don’t want to ask. The problem here is that you should be asking. Ask everyone. Ask your management staff what trainees need to know. Ask suppliers and vendors what your team needs to know about their products. Ask your clients, and even the employees themselves, what information is needed and how to best convey that information. One simple inquiry could provide you with a lot more information than you think about what type of training you should be offering and whether your current online courses are on track.
Mistake #4: Overcomplicating Things
Being creative is one thing. Innovation is what gets people’s attention. You have to be careful, though, that you don’t get so ‘innovative’ that you make things complicated unnecessarily. There is only one very specific goal that you need to focus on when creating training content. People need simplicity, so make sure that you’re doing everything with that single goal in mind:
- What will people be able to do after completing your training?
Any extra bells and whistles need to be removed. Any information that isn’t pertinent to this task or goal should be taken out. It doesn’t matter how cool an infographic is or how great your slideshow presentation turned out because if it’s not useful, it’s a distraction. In today’s society of short attention spans, you can’t afford any distractions in your training. People will either lose focus or retain the wrong information, so make sure that you keep it simple and spell out exactly what you want them to learn and do with the training that is being given.
Mistake #5: Not Enough Follow-Up
Too many things are competing for people’s attention. It’s terribly difficult for the brain to contend with the world around us today when there is constantly so much going on. One of the best ways to combat this, of course, is through follow-up and repetition. The brain is great at forming habits and memorizing things when you use it like the muscle that it is. Therefore, you should make sure that your training includes some form of helpful repetition, with three being the magic number for how many times you need to repeat things before they stick on average. Here, you can really benefit from setting up your training ahead of time to include a structure that forms a bigger picture out of the smaller pieces so that you can reference things more than once without being monotonous or intrusive.
The Bottom Line
If you look closely, you’ll quickly realize that most of the biggest online training mistakes come from one place: a lack of planning and intention. You can’t just throw together some training materials and call it a day. In order to be successful with online training, you have to develop a system that delivers what your trainees need in a way that works for them. By learning the biggest things that don’t work, you’ll be able to ensure that your training does.