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Effective elearning: Ten top tips

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elearning tipsDr Jo Cheesman provides essential pointers for getting the most out of elearning.








1. Focus on performance

Effective elearning should improve both the individual and the organisation's performance. It's important to identify individual learning objectives in line with organisational goals and learning strategy, and to design elearning that meets both needs.

2. Put measurements in place

It's surprising how often this doesn't happen. Be clear about what you want your elearning initiative to achieve. It's important to do this at both an individual and organisational level.

Photo of Dr Jo Cheesman"The greatest challenge to the successful adoption of elearning is changing the attitudes of learners towards it."

3. Give learners control

One of the greatest changes we've seen in the world of learning in recent years is the move towards learner-centred learning and the importance of giving individuals control over their learning experience. Elearning is ideal for this, because learners can choose when and how to engage with it. It is also possible to adapt elearning content to meet individual needs.

4. Communicate it

Getting employees to buy in to elearning is a challenge for many organisations. According to the CIPD's 2008 survey of learning and development, more than half of UK organisations believe that less than 25% of employees take up the elearning opportunities offered to them. The report stated that the greatest challenge to the successful adoption of elearning is changing the attitudes of learners towards it. It's essential to communicate elearning opportunities and to highlight the potential benefits to employees in a variety of ways – online, in print and verbally.

5. Blend it

An overwhelming 95% of respondents to the 2008 CIPD survey of learning and development believe that elearning is most effective when combined with other forms of learning. The most popular blend is a combination of elearning and face-to-face learning, but consider other elements to meet your learning aims. On-the-job learning, coaching, facilitated discussion, communications materials and other learning applications can all enhance the elearning experience.

6. Make it easy to access

It sounds obvious, but it's important to address any technical issues early on. Make sure that your elearning can be easily accessed by every member of your target audience. Design it so that it can be used by those with the lowest-spec computers.

7. Make it visually engaging

Many of your target audience may be regular users of virtual networking and gaming sites. They will be used to visually engaging content and will expect the same from their elearning experience.

8. Make it interactive

See above – many elearners will be used to interactive online experiences. It is essential that their elearning experience is interactive too. Interactivity engages learners, encourages them to take ownership of the learning process, and can help to check understanding as the learner progresses.

"95% of respondents to the 2008 CIPD survey of learning and development believe that elearning is most effective when combined with other forms of learning."

9. Consider a learning portal

An online learning portal is a gateway not only to elearning but also to other valuable resources, such as discussion groups, ecoaching and relevant research. The most effective learning portals have a diagnostic element which allows learners to identify their learning needs, create a learning pathway and map progress.

Portals can make use of Web 2.0 technology, allowing you to incorporate social learning technologies and other new media such as podcasts, weblogs, chat, tagging, social bookmarking and so on. Used in the right way, these technologies can be used to support and enhance the learning experience.

10. Evaluate it

Having put measurements in place at the beginning of your elearning initiative, it's critical that you use these measurements to evaluate its success. In today's challenging economic climate, it's more important than ever to demonstrate a return on your elearning investment. Evaluation also helps you to improve your elearning so that it's an even greater success next time round.


Dr Jo Cheesman is partnership and business development manager at Academee. She is a highly experienced learning expert and has designed creative learning solutions for a range of public sector, corporate and academic organisations. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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