Sunday, August 8, 2010

My e-Learning Don'ts

Here is a list I compiled of things I think should NOT be done when designing e-learning courses. I believe the following are counter to adult learning theory, sound e-learning design and they just down-right irk me. They are not in any particular order.


  1. Turn off navigation until a screen's audio is done. Not only do most people read quicker than narration and may choose to move on, it is just plain wrong to deny learners user control.

  2. Have audio without close caption or at least equivalent content on screen. This is not just a 508 compliance (accessibility) issue, it is also possible that some computers won't have audio capabilities. For example, this was the case at a bank I worked for where tellers did not have sound on their PCs.

  3. Force navigation. You know those courses that you can only go in a linear direction using the dreaded next button and they don't even give you access to a menu, ugh! Didn't I mention user control  earlier?

  4. Neglect to include orientation. Let me know if I am on page 1 of 10 or 1 of 100. However, if you have page 1 of 100 written anywhere in your course you have even bigger issues to resolve.

  5. Call a course interactive when all it has is a bunch of pop-ups. There is more to creating an interactive course than adding pop-ups and rollovers. Here is a good resource if you are looking for ideas on how to make your course more interactive -  Schone's "Engaging Interactions for eLearning."

  6. Make courses that look like it's PowerPoint. I know PowerPoint is sometimes used as an authorig tool, but at least use it to create engaging, interactive courses that do not resemble PowerPoint slide decks that you just uploaded to Captivate or Articulate. Need tips on bringing PowerPoint to life? Try the Rapid eLearning blog.

  7. Leave out feedback for review and assessment questions. Providing feedback is a chance to correct misconceptions, reinforce learning,  etc.

  8. List objectives like they are written in your course design plan. Of course it is good to include objectives, but write them in a way that is more conversational and spark interest.

  9. Use graphics that have absolutely nothing to do with the learning at hand. See the eLearning Coach for some tips on using graphics.

  10. Make a course mandatory if it absolutely does not have to be mandatory. Let the learners learn for learning sake.

If you have additional e-learning don'ts, please share them in the comments section.


  1. Satyajeet ShaligramAugust 11, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    Wonderful list, I hope the guys in charge are listening.
    Here are some I can think of -

    1. Do not simply upload video dumps of lectures as e-learning courses.

    2. Do not make a course which resembles a bullet point version of the course reference book. (Teach something...don't just inform)

    3. Do not make the course entirely in flash or animations. Choose animations and other wizardry responsibly - a big budget does not mean that your e-learning course should be modeled on "Avatar".

    4. Unless absolutely necessary, do not stop users from copying content from the course. Personal notes are a great source of reference and comfort to many.

    5. And finally, do not ignore the e-learning don'ts on minutebio :)

  2. Satyajeet,

    Thank you for the additions to the list. Your list of "Don'ts" is fantastic. And thank you for #5 too, I appreciate it.


  3. Jeff,

    GREAT list! Along with yours and Satyajeet's additions, this is the beginnings of a must have checklist to guide the development process.

    Perhaps start a permanent list on your site where readers can suggest more "don'ts" and build on it as a resource for others? I'm certainly tagging this post as resource for me!


  4. Kevin,

    Thanks for the great idea. I will put something together and let everyone know when it is available.


  5. Great list. Here's mine:

    Don't cram 8 hours of instructor led content into a still-way-too-long two hour eLearning course.

  6. [...] world around us learning has evolved to be much smarter.  A fantastic blog post from Jeff Goldman captures the don’ts of e-learning very well.  Also some great replies to this post adding [...]

  7. [...] The Top 10 things you should not do when designing e-learning [...]

  8. I'm new to e-learning, and have no credentials whatsoever other than being a process guy at heart and having distilled my marketing/sales training regimen down to its essence, removing all the excess moving parts over the past 20 years.

    We've just launched RainmakerVT, interactive virtual business development training for lawyers (whom I trained 1:1 for 20 yrs). It would be huge help for me if a few of you e-learning ringers would take a stroll through our demo and offer constructive observations. I can't implement anything you say until version two, but I'd love to start learning now.

    Thanks in advance to anyone who has a few extra minutes (an illusory concept, I realize) and offers some thoughts.

    Mike O'Horo

  9. Michael,

    This blog is run by myself (one eLearning "Ringer"), but my readers may be interested in reviewing it. I would also suggest trying to recruit reviewers via Twitter and LinkedIn groups, which may reach a broader audience. You may also want to think about bringing beta testers into a computer lab during your review process.

    Good luck.


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