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Online learning is in crisis – are you ready to face some truths?


Online learning was a massive paradigm shift that allowed company training budgets to stretch much further than they ever had before. But, it’s not necessarily delivering expected results or desired returns. So what’s wrong?

Doesn't it make training easier?
Sure, it helps meet regulatory requirements and can quickly deploy training information throughout the company. It's also zapped expenses associated with travel and lodging associated with in-person training. And it's much less of a productivity drain because employees can get the courses done in hours compared to full days away. Besides, online learning gives people access to more topics than they could ever have possibly imagined. It's a veritable renaissance of information to help with continuous learning.

So are people learning continuously?
Well actually, no. They aren't.
For all the investment in developing and hosting online learning courses and for the hundreds of thousands of hours of "how to" and expert advice waiting to be consumed, completion rates are still incredibly low - often less than 10%.
Most online learning is instantly forgotten or abandoned. Why is that? Well, there are a few things we need to be real about.

Does this sound familiar?
The last online course you completed probably had you moving along the learning track using a carefully controlled experience at a strictly controlled speed.
You might not have been able to turn off the voice-over accompaniment to the animated text that was appearing on screen and read it independently. All it was missing was the bouncing ball to follow along and the background chimes telling you when to advance to the next screen. Having flashbacks yet?
Now, think about one ​thing you took away from the actual content. What do you remember today? Is it content related or experiential?
You might have been focused on trying to find a way to speed through the course, skimming to get enough of an idea to be able to answer the "show what you know" quizzes about hypothetical co-workers and imagined scenarios.
What about that trick question where technically you should have selected "all of the above" instead of a single answer?
Hopefully, you got the minimum required score so you could move forward to the next learning segment. Otherwise, you may have had to replay everything and give this training another 30-45 minutes of your undivided attention.

Let's be honest
A lot of online learning today is dull, cluttered, content-heavy, static, generic, underwhelming, disengaging, humourless, stale, and impersonal.
It's predictable, repetitive, and fleeting.
It's fixed and forgettable.
It's lonely.
And it doesn't matter that there are thousands of courses sharing thousands of ideas that you access whenever you want to...if you are bored within a few seconds of starting.

Truths
These are the truths we discovered as we looked at the FliP sides of online learning.

  1. Consumption is not learning. There's zero skill transference.
  2. Organizations that don't develop essential skills together can't grow their knowledge exponentially. Collaborative team learning involves all levels and functions and embeds a new shared language.
  3. Deep learning of threshold concepts only happens with a commitment to a completely pracademic approach. Otherwise it’s just idea sharing.

They're the reasons why we choose to design online courses differently.