20 ways to make your e-learning totally suck
A lot of e-learning sucks. It’s like wearing a suit or coat that’s two sizes too small – all a bit cramped and makes you feel uncomfortable. The problem is design that ignores the research, ignores learning theory and above all, ignores the fact that many of us hate much of the over-designed stuff that passes for contemporary e-learning. Here’s a selection of 20 things that drive me CRAZY when doing e-learning.
1. Learning objectives – don’t bore me with your teacher and trainer-speak up front. I’m bored already and we haven’t even started. More here.
2. Long introductions – history of,…background to… here’s your tutor… No, give it to me straight, stop padding things out. More here.
3. Cartoons – cartoon style imagery is for kids. I don’t watch cartoons on TV, so don’t give me them when I’m learning - they’re so damn condescending.
4. Perfect people – I know this is about management but I don’t need stock pictures of perfect people in perfect suits with perfect teeth and hair – believe me, real offices don’t look like that.
5. Text-graphic, text-graphic – Lord Privy Seal – picture of Lord, Picture of toilet, picture of seal. Stop just selecting a lazy image for every noun in the text, page by page. More here.
6. Text and audio at same time – stop – I can’t do both at the same time. Give me images with narration or text only – not narration and text at the same time – it makes my head hurt.
7. Too much text – I don’t want all of this legal stuff, detail, overlong stories. I’m never going to remember all of this, so cut it until it bleeds, then cut it some more.
8. Over-engineered effects – too much distracting movement, effects and buzz makes my head spin – when I learn, less is more.
9. Long video sequences – OK you’ve hired a video guy and the academic wants to prattle on a bit but I’m bored after 5 minutes and learning precisely nothing. Keep it short. Less is more. More here.
10. Tinny audio – you sound as though you’ve recorded this in a tin shed. Get a proper mike and record in a proper environment. More here.
11. Sound effects – you may think it’s fun but those beeps for correct answers and bongs for wrong answers are doing my head in! More here.
12. Music – who told you that background music aids learning – it doesn’t - get rid of it. More here.
13. Multiple choice questions that simply take a noun from the text and ask me to select it from a list. In real life I never select answers from lists. It’s a test of recognition, not knowing. More here.
14. Stupid options in multiple-choice questions – don’t do it, I’m not a dumb-ass, treat me like an adult.
15. False buttons – don’t make me click on something that looks like it’s interactive when it’s not. That annoys the hell out of me. More here.
16. Opaque icons – your graphic artist may think he/she is an ‘artist’ but I haven’t a clue what that icon means. More here.
17. Gamification – I’m not one of Pavlov’s dogs, so don’t make me collect coins, chase rubies or do silly gamey things in order to learn – I’m not 12. (Note that I'm all for deep gamification.) More DOs & DON'Ts here.
18. Learning styles – what are you talking about - they don’t exist. Let me repeat – they don’t exist.
19. Mindful – let’s stop and be mindful – no that’s a mindless fad and I have a mind that wants to learn– move on.
20. Chat – so you’ve got a chat box for ‘social’ learning, as you believe in social constructivism. Forget that Vygotsky shit – chat is usually boring, long winded and irrelevant.
Note that I'm not against all of these things, especially gamification and collaboration. I'm just against simplisitc implemntations that learners don't like. I could have gone on with another 400 DOs and DON’Ts but they’re all listed, explained and categorised here, if you want to check out more.