Learning as an activity is not always fun. We continue to pass through the learning process in formal environment because we have to do it, as some kind of a mandatory requirement. When learning process is saddled with too many constraints and learning material is boring and monotonous, we happily skip the process or take our heart away from it irrespective of the bad consequence it may lead to.
In the formal classroom environment, it is rare for students to drop out of a course solely because of poor lecture delivery by an incompetent teacher. On the other hand, in e-learning environment, if learning is not fun, and learning activity imposes too many constraints, then learners just drop out. To add further insult to injury, if learners are fee-paying customers, they will just beat the course provider hollow through repeated bad reviews in all of their favorite social media.
Why is it that course providers and teachers take so long to understand this simple learner behavior in e-learning environment? Because, they are drunk with the hyper-control power of technology and their eyes are covered with the colored glasses of intending-to-do-something-good-for-the-learners-which-they-themselves-are-not-matured-enough-to-understand syndrome.
So, here is my humble list of nine don’ts for all you care:
- Do not give a very strict learning plan to the learners. You may organize the study schedule as per your best understanding, but digital learners adopt the most suitable plan as per their need. So, while laying out the plan, do not put too much restriction in terms of time, sequence of access of study material etc.
- Do not stop the learner from proceeding ahead if a certain condition is not met – like a quiz not being answered correctly. Self-learners do not want the system to stop them at any stage; they will come back to the study material if they want to really learn anyway.
- Do not put restrictions on the number of downloads, number of views of study material contents or videos. This is a sure deal-breaker. No learner in the world views a study material more than they need to.
- Do not restrict access based on IP address, number of devices from which one can access etc. Very few users share their user credentials (unlike in Netflix etc.) in learning situations.
- Do not give large documents in view-only mode. This is a sure put-off. Can you read a long document on the device monitor always? Many learners like to download lengthy documents to print and go through them in the normal way.
- Do not give one test on the whole as a final examination. Learners like to practice or do mock-tests beforehand, if they have to undergo any examination later on.
- Do not hide evaluation rules and spring a surprise later on when your e-learning course is meant for certification purpose.
- Do not worry about your course material being illegally shared by one learner to the others in competitive preparatory coaching or certification training scenarios. Each new learner is a potent competitor to the others, and hence incidences of such malpractices are extremely low. Do not design your system to handle the stray occurrences.
- Do not depend only on your study material content. Build other solid services like answering learner queries, giving test analytics to learners, handling customer care queries, encouraging forum participation to create great personal experiences for learners, mentoring learners periodically etc. This way you not only create a solid differentiator for yourself, but establish a healthy connection with your customers.
Why are the above points important? E-learning is for self-motivated learners, and self-motivated individuals do not like undue curtailment of their freedom.