Thursday, July 16, 2009

Driving User Adoption of e-Learning Programs

What organizations treading the path of e-learning or introducing anything new need to understand is that:

~The implementation is only the beginning
~The culture of the organization should actively suppport and drive post-implementation adoption
~Users/learners should perceive themselves as being appreciated and recognized for adapting to a new method

Applying these to the adoption of e-learning in an organization:

Mistakes that many organizations tend to make that get in the way of user adoption are:

1. Managers responsible for team productivity and performance define the learning objectives and ask a vendor to create an e-learning course failing to take the opinion of end users (what the managers perceive as difficulties may not be the real/root cause for productivity or quality failures)

2. Insist on "jazz" which if not aligned/required for the end learning can distract and confuse users (Refer to: Could animations hurt learning? by Cathy Moore)

3. Feel that transferring a ppt into flash is all about e-learning (putting "lipstick on a pig" effect takes place...Refer to: How to avoid putting lipstick on a pig by Cathy Moore again)

4. Think of the implementation of an e-learning program as the end of their responsibility, a task to be ticked off on their list for that quarter (the course is out there, learners will go through and performance will improve)

5. Unwillingness to go the whole way and invest in a course that can be made truly effective; the incentive for an e-learning course, from an org's perspective, is often to cut down on training cost and the hassles of coordination rather than learning efficiency

All of these points lead to the creation of a training program and an atmosphere that is not inducive to adoption.

Mistakes that most vendors tend to make that get in the way of user adoption are:

1. Accepting the brief from an organization's representatives and creating a course that they want but not necessarily what they need

2. Failing to do a thorough "Learning Needs Assessment" and thus barking up the wrong tree

3. Failing to carry out UAT because "implementation is not our problem; it's up to the organization to do what they want with the course"

4. Thinking that "jazz" can make up for sound instructional strategies and design

5. Not bothering to help the organization with suggestions on adoption (often, for an organization walking the path of e-learning may be a new measure with no set path to tread; a vendor/consultant/learning solutions designer, in such cases, need to suggest means of inspiring and driving user adoption...

Any thoughts...??


  1. Good points.. well made. Liked Cathy's post too. Very valid for me at this moment. Am suddenly plonked into new new project on business demand, and got into a spot with management asking to make a course (i will be one out of 3 IDs on this) which is 'real real' quick and good quality. Before inducting me, the management already decided the strategy that all 3 of us will use to get it 'quickly' out. What does one do here when you dont get involved in defining the strategy and ur working with others who will do exactly as told. If i put in my own ideas to do some cosmetic surgery, the other 2 wud not be in sync (i dont have control over them) and the courses wud be inconsistent. These are common problems when business demands and the entire course gamut is not in ur control.

  2. Thanks a lot for the comments Sreya. This is very similar to situations we face most often--especially when one is a tad more "learner-centric" than the majority. I am taking this opportunity to compliment oursleves a bit :) coz I think being an ID is much much more than a job for us. It is our passion, and we hate to see what we are passionate about have a sub-optimal ending. That ways I have been lucky to have a management who has so far given me a free hand as long as I stay within the scope and don't cause project loss.

    But on a serious note, I do think we have to educate clients also a little bit at a time to appreciate the medium, explore the scope and advantages. Otherwise, we will deliver "below standard" and ineffective learning, the course will not have the desired impact, the client will blame us and probably e-learning also for being ineffective and we would have lost a client. Sigh!!


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