7 myths about e-learning

Although e-learning is already pretty well established in most large organizations, there are still some persistent misunderstanding surrounding it. E-learning supposedly is impersonal, only suited for Millennials, too focused on technology, etc. We discuss 7 ingrained myths that we can firmly disprove thanks to our years of experience with digital training. Here we go!

#1 Learning styles are untouchable

Learning styles: probably not the first time you’ve heard about them. A learning style is a concept originating from cognitive psychology and didactics, for which there is no rock-solid scientific proof. Learning styles refer to preferred ways of learning. Some people prefer to experiment actively, others like to experience, listen, observe or conceptualize.

Holding on to these learning styles in a rigid way isn’t a good idea. After all, research has proven that learning content doesn’t stick better when you take into account the preferred style. However, we can’t deny the existence of these learning styles either. People show clear preferences for a specific way of learning. Some prefer to watch videos, others like listening to a podcast or practicing their skills during a workshop.

We have noticed that the choice for a particular format is more often determined by the learning content and the environment the users find themselves in. A combination of the two is also possible.

Think about people who spend a lot of time in their car. For them, a podcast is much more interesting than a video. Employees who need to master certain skills are better off with a video tutorial that clearly explains each step, or a live workshop with an experienced trainer.

#2 The more interactive, the more engaging

If you follow this logic, you can actually just dump learning content into all kinds of puzzles and brainless games to get access to certain learning material. Because interactivity ensures users are involved and attentive, right?


Don’t get us wrong: we’re strong advocates of interactive e-learning. But only if it’s well thought-out, based on solid didactic concepts, and offers real added value. Like scenario-based e-learning, where users get to play a role themselves. Stimulate learners to think about the learning material, and make sure they can put the content into practice by answering questions for example.

#3 Flashy graphics are a must-have

Graphic elements are meant to support the learning content. Do they offer absolutely no added value? Then they are redundant. Nobody benefits from a training with visuals that blow you away, but at the same time divert attention from what really matters. In other words, the design shouldn’t take up extra brain space, but should facilitate the absorption of learning material in the brain.

However, a well thought-out UI/UX is essential to make the user experience as pleasant as possible. That also has to do with the extra burden on our brain: the more energy is lost in understanding the navigation, the less energy is left to engage with the essence of the course.

Don’t have the skills, resources or time to think about these sort of things? Our graphic designer and UI expert happily advise you on the best approach for your e-learning.

#4 Learners have the attention span of a goldfish

The so-called scientific evidence that humans can only stay focused for 8 seconds at a time, can be easily countered. And in goldfish’s defense: their stereotypical attention span appears to be far less black and white as well.

If our attention span really is that short, how do you explain the immense popularity of binging Netflix shows, or teenagers spending hundreds of hours on a video game? There are tons of examples proving that people can still be totally absorbed by specific content.

Admittedly, the constant stream of notifications often interrupts our focus. But we can solve that easily by removing stimuli, turning off notifications or by paying attention to them more selectively. In that case, the average human is certainly able to concentrate more than 8 seconds on learning content.

Remember that much depends on a person’s inherent interests and needs. Does a piece of information lie completely in line with what someone likes to see, listen or watch? Then he or she can spend more time on it anyway.

#5 Microlearning = video learning

We’ve talked about microlearning before on this blog. The misunderstanding that microlearning always contains video, is annoyingly persistent. Like we said before, microlearning can’t be defined by the medium (and therefore not by video), but by its length and focus. A microlearning module is always short and focused on one or two concepts. Often, the user can immediately apply the learning material.

Video learning doesn’t necessarily have to be short, or only focused on a few topics by the way. On the contrary, video allows you to explain multiple topics in a very clear way.

#6 E-learning is impersonal

It’s true that social learning plays a big part in teaching skills and knowledge. When learning happens without any human interaction in an isolated environment, people get disengaged very quickly. From that point of view, some people tend to see e-learning as a lonely, impersonal activity. Admittedly, that might have been the case in the past.

Today, there are tons of possibilities to add aspects to e-learning that stimulate interaction, collaboration and connection, for example:

  • Develop e-learning that encourages interaction with other participants by setting up a leaderboard or launching a forum.
  • Let participants work together in small groups to make assignments. For Securitas Aviation, we set up a successful blended learning program that included group assignments and webinars.

#7 Course completion = successful learning

People can get carried away by statistics and graphics. Thanks to SCORM, L&D teams can check on their LMS which employees have followed a training, how long it took them and whether they completed the e-learning (course completion) or not. Sometimes, that completion status is even used to prove that the organization and its employees meet specific legal requirements (e.g. security training, e-learning on GDPR).

However, those figures say little about the effectiveness of the training. Simply exposing employees to certain learning content isn’t the same as effectively understanding that content.

Do you really want to change the behavior of participants with your training, and learn skills on the long term? Then don’t just zoom in on numbers, but also focus on practice, repetition and reinforcements of the learning content. One training probably won’t suffice. It’s better to opt for a campaign that contains small learning modules, striking visuals, communications tools and analysis. Our End-User Security Awareness Campaign Inviqta is a great example.

Do you need help setting up or deploying a similar learning program? Neo Learning’s experts get you started!

Looking for e-learning that really works?

Then you are visiting the right website! Neo Learning offers support tailored to your needs and organization. Thanks to sold instructional design, excellent copy, visuals with added value and on-point development, we turn your e-learning into a training that achieves the learning and business goals in one go.

Set up a meeting today with one of our experts.

Artikel geschreven door:
Neo Learning Consultants

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