6 Free Online Training Mistakes Which Are Best Avoided

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Free online training might be a modern initiative with multiple advantages, but it doesn’t come without unique challenges. There are many obstacles to consider from multiple perspectives, ranging from tight deadlines to coordinating an abundance of online resources. By understanding in advance the obstacles you expect to encounter, you can implement measures as early as onboarding to safeguard against common mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable, difficult to avoid entirely, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reduce their impact or perhaps be prepared to counteract them. Even the most experienced instructional designers can face challenges during the planning stage, and that’s before training methods have been implemented! But there’s no need to fear. Embracing challenges can boost the learning experience, where mistakes are viewed as opportunities for improvement. There are many companies who make corporate training mistakes, and these mistakes often have something in common. To help you mitigate against free online training errors, let’s bring awareness to some common mistakes you should look out for:

1. A Lack of Clearly Defined Goals or Objectives

Free online training for employees can occasionally be introduced with no rhyme or reason. How do you expect learners to understand what’s expected from them if you haven’t established goals or objectives? In two words, you can’t. When designing eLearning initiatives, it’s essential for you to clearly understand what you’re trying to achieve. What is the purpose of free online training without goals or objectives? There has to be a specific reason for training, which is usually defined by identified areas of improvement. By developing core learning objectives, you can sharpen specific skill sets, those which will help employees become more productive or potentially take on new responsibilities. You can tailor the learning experience based on specific goals and objectives, otherwise your free online training can miss the mark altogether. Assess your target audience’s current knowledge base during the development of learning resources. This will help you better understand what they’ll extract from the process.

2. Text-Heavy Content

Text can be overbearing, especially when it’s overused. Learners are more likely to be put off by large chunks of text, which can demotivate employees and cause them to perceive learning as boring. When learning has a negative stigma attached, your troops won’t develop and meet ever-evolving business requirements. Text-heavy content is counterproductive, and is far more useful when broken into manageable chunks. Ultimately, who wants to sift through pages and pages of text? It is much more useful to use a combination of text, video, and audio, which collectively creates a more stimulating learning experience. Text-heavy content is difficult to retain, and makes it harder to achieve learning objectives. Focus on incorporating relevant information, avoiding filler, and diversifying your content where possible. Graphic and images are great too, for creating an aesthetic appeal. Visual elements are occasionally more effective for illustrating a point, so should be utilized accordingly.

3. Poor Utilization of Graphics / Images

OK, so graphics might be good, but when misused they can convolute free online training. Be selective with your imagery, choosing images which align with the content in question. Throwing irrelevant imagery into the mix doesn’t contribute value, in fact it can disillusion and confuse learners. Try to match images with the overall aesthetic and feel of the resources. Try not to use imagery which distracts learners, and assess images based on their ability to draw attention to essential information. Images should enhance the meaningfulness of course content.

4. Lack of Real Life Scenarios

Learning is often heavily theory based, with no consideration for how it will be applied practically. What’s the point of theory based learning with no reference to the real world? Participants must be given a chance to see how the content they’re learning will be applied to industry. This gives context to information, consolidating theory so it’s more easily understood. It’s best if employees are given a chance to apply their knowledge first hand. They’ll benefit from free online training considerably more as a result, compared with when there is a lack of on-the-job scenarios referenced. If employees aren’t given a vision of work outside of content, they’ll be less likely to engage in training.

5. Not Enough Media Elements

Many courses fail to incorporate the myriad of media elements available. Capitalizing on these resources will enhance the learning experience, whether it’s background music, audio narratives, or videos. When free online training is pleasant, it is instantly more attractive. If you’re concerned about media elements distracting staff, give your staff headphones.

6. Overload

Free online training is largely ineffective when there is too much information to take in. Cognitive overload is real. When participants are asked to do too much, they’ll struggle to retain information. This contributes to ineffective learning, counteracting some of the benefits of your methods. It is a problem when participants lose interest, but this can be overcome with ‘bite sized’ information. Learners are incentivized to learn when they’re not being asked to do too much at any one time. In addition to their mental attitude improving, more information is absorbed, and less knowledge lost through information overload.
Jason is the Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog. Jason established the Training Station blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to training, learning and development.