From classroom training to eLearning – what goes wrong?

We were invited to view a new online course. It was created by an experienced classroom trainer and Flash developer. They were very excited because they believed it to be interactive and engaging.

What we found was a course where most screens included ‘buttons’ to click on so that small chunks of text would appear on the screen. Every few screens there was a short video clip. After a few screens, however, the only thing we found engaging was the exit button. I know this sounds harsh, but I keep wondering what went wrong when creating this eLearning.

It was a respected and experienced classroom trainer and a colleague with the skills for creating Flash objects. My thoughts are speculative but they are based on what I have seen with regard to a lot of similar eLearning development.

In the first instance, the trainer is swayed by technology and forgets many of the key principles for creating an engaging learning environment. For example, insertion of a video clip does not equal ‘engagement’. It needs guidance for the user to focus on key aspects before the video and ‘discussion’ afterwards. This occurs in the classroom and needs to occur online. The eLearning we looked at did not include any activity to help the learner focus on what will be learned or to recognise what they already know. The writing style was like a textbook, not written to engage me as the learner.

What goes wrong is the assumption that any classroom trainer can switch gears and create eLearning. Some can but many cannot. The same principles of learning design apply but they are presented differently, and different skill sets tend to predominate when switching from the classroom to online. The experienced trainer in this instance did a good job of chunking information and was heading in the right direction but did not recognise the additional skills that were needed. With some training and practice, the classroom trainer can develop the skills to create an interactive and engaging learning event.


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