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Why do some e-learning projects succeed and others don't?

It's not just a matter of luck! Several pitfalls when setting up training projects are to be avoided. Among them, lack of coordination, contradictory opinions, uninteresting content. In addition to these pitfalls, there are also tips to follow!

e-learning success

4 steps to a successful e-learning project


All projects are complicated, but your new e-learning projects can quickly become scary if they are not mastered.

All too often we have seen clients commit to transforming their training courses or want to create a new business unit dedicated to digital learning with the best of intentions... and find themselves buried under the constraints and surprises during production...

At best this results in trainings that look like all the others, at worst, the project does. Get out. It never does.

Let's be clear, when you create an online training, it's not a question of "disrupting" the training market, of having the latest fashionable type of training (Mooc, spoc, cooc, sploof...), but of making a difference, of having something that really suits you, something unique, that really meets the needs of your learners.

And for that, only a few elements have to fit together, but a lot can go wrong.

"It's just an hour of videos with a few quizzes, it will go fast. Of course... It's the classic trap...


The main dangers hovering over your training projects


Coordination complexity

All training projects are slightly different, but you probably need to put together :

  • An LMS platform
  • Video production capabilities, i.e. a director, cameras, potentially a green background, possibly an animator, maybe buy music or illustrative videos, etc.
  • A trainer who writes the training courses and, ideally, shoots it, facing the camera.
  • A project manager who coordinates everything.
  • Stakeholders in your company who will support the project and, of course, have a clear idea of what you need to do..
  • Ideally one or more future users who will guide you in their pedagogical needs..
  • A client, of course, who will hold you to account. This customer can be the learner directly.

We're going to be honest, just making this list gives us anxiety. Coordinating all these actors so that they have converging interests, at the right time, with the same quality requirements, can be the guarantee of a migraine lasting several months.


Conflicting opinions

Often everyone in your organization has an opinion on how to do things. That's great, it means people feel involved, but it can quickly turn into a curse.

Everyone has an opinion and as a result you get stuck, you create frustration because you can't satisfy everyone, and potentially your course will look like a catalogue of scattered ideas with no consistency. Wanting to serve everyone, you serve no one.


Lengthy training projects

"It's just an hour's worth of video with a few quizzes, it'll go fast." Of course... It's the classic trap. At the beginning, everyone is concentrated to reach the goal, the way seems to be clear.

However, after a few days / weeks, the first conflicts arrive, the first delays. And soon, nobody makes any effort to push the project in the right direction. Delays accumulate, officially you still have the support of your hierarchy, but... you know, it's actually more complicated.

Now it's final, your project will come out too late. Too late for your company, where nobody pays attention to it anymore. Too late for your clients, who are frustrated that it hasn't moved faster. Too late for your learners, who have been waiting for the project for months and have now forgotten about it.


Uninteresting content

We've all been in this situation, it's an interesting subject, but the absolutely monotone voice of the teacher for the last 50 minutes makes you regret getting up this morning. This happens in classroom classes, but also, of course, online.

Even with the best of intentions, sometimes the way the course is delivered can make it completely airtight. This may be due to the form, which is slow, monotonous, without rhythm, but also to the content! If you're not careful, the content itself can end up being extremely "top-down", leaving no room for interaction, problem solving, challenge.

Now that we've seen what kills most e-learning projects, let's take a quick look at a few tips you can apply to make your projects a success.

steps to a successful e-learning project

Some tips to make your online training courses a success


Be agile in your project management

As ready as you are, even with extremely well prepared courses and a very detailed action plan, you will encounter problems in producing your training.

These problems can of course be diverse. It may be a teacher who is ultimately uncomfortable in front of the camera. An approach that seemed interesting but which you realize is not when you have already done 3 days of filming. Or it could be that your hierarchy is changing your budget resources, or your priorities, your time allocated to the project, etc.

Whatever happens, no plan, no matter how well prepared, survives the contact with reality.

The best technique you can use for this is to have a dynamic approach to your project. Expect that things will change, prepare for the fact that you will have to make adaptations..

It's not so much a matter of "over-planning" your project to anticipate all the unexpected, but of approaching it with a few key strategic objectives in mind that you want to achieve. Then, at the "tactical" level, you will adapt the realization of your project to the constraints of the moment, but, in fine, in adequacy with your objectives..


User first

Every organization and every project necessarily includes a policy component. Each stakeholder will push its vision of the project and try to formulate the problem so that its solution alone can address it.

In the end, over a project of several months, if everyone gradually imposes their point of view, you run the risk of ending up with a training course that does not in any way meet the needs of the learners but is the perfect emanation of your organisation. Each department, each teacher, will have a little bit of himself in the training, which in the end will resemble Dr. Frankenstein's monster, an assembly of several elements that are not necessarily coherent once assembled.

The solution to avoid this is to agree on the profile of a typical user at the beginning of the project and ask yourself what is the problem you are trying to solve for him or her. Is he a student in his twenties and does he need practical cases to ensure his knowledge in a subject? Is he a new team leader in the metal industry who needs best practices to steer his people in the right direction?

To each user his problem, to each user his solution. Having a very clear picture of this user at the beginning of the project will allow you to use it as a compass to make the right trade-offs during the development of your training.


Surround yourself with good partners and lead them

Producing online training is not an adventure to be done alone, you will need to build a solid team that will help you throughout the different phases of the project. Whether it is with your stakeholders, the video production company or the teachers who will write your training, you will need to spend time building a relationship with them.

Always explain to them the "why", the "why" of a particular decision or need. Don't forget that they are above all other human beings who need to take ownership of the project and make it their own. The more the subject is theirs, the more open you will be to their advice and recommendations, the more they will be ready to work for you.

Of course, some partners will never be good, so it is necessary to select them well before the project, or even to separate from them when things go wrong. Beyond their competence, which must be real, select individuals with whom you get along and who understand your project, not necessarily the most fashionable company of the moment. Remember that an e-learning project is an adventure that can be difficult and for which you will need allies.

So once you have the right team, get involved, build a relationship with them, listen to their advice and lead them!


Importance of storytelling

We can't help it, we're animals who aspire to hear and believe stories. Myths and stories are what structure our social life and way of thinking, they shape who we are and who we become.

Make no mistake, the teacher follows exactly the same rules. There is nothing worse than hearing a lesson as dry as a textbook of hundreds of pages. Your learners will be immensely more engaged if you tell them a story, if your course has an engaging and dynamic narrative structure.

Of course, you probably won't be able to reconstruct the Iliad and the Odyssey from all the topics, but it can take the simple form of real-life examples, telling the lives of individuals close to the learners. Create characters that your learners will find during your training.

Also, a good story is a story that engages the learner, that challenges them. The challenge is necessary in any training because it pushes us to solve problems, to go out of our comfort zone. For example, this can mean not just asking your learners about the content, but pushing them to assemble concepts themselves, to take risks. For inspiration on this subject, you can watch Andrew Stanton's TED lecture (Toy Story, Le Monde de Nemo, Ratatouille, Wall-E, ...) on the universal theory of "2+2".

As you can see, and as you probably already know, the process of creating an online training course is full of pitfalls. As we have seen, there are many pitfalls, but a few rules can help you to orient yourself, make the right decisions and deliver engaging courses to your learners.