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E-learning: How to tackle content heavy courses

There’s no doubt e-learning has revolutionised the way we learn from the days of black boards and books. And that’s great right? Gone are the days of trawling through an 800 page textbook and making notes. But one problem still persists - and it’s a question we get asked time and time again at carrot. How do I create an e-learning course when I've got a large amount of content? I know those textbooks back in the day seemed unnecessarily arduous, but maybe it was a necessary evil? If they’d been e-learning courses would it have been years of rotating tiles and micro-quizzes? Well let’s dig a little deeper and see if we can come up with some strategies to keep e-learning bridgeable even with an ocean of content to work up

The difference between Content exposure and learning

The first thing to say is, don’t be afraid of content. As L&D professionals we are constantly bombarded with mantras of the moment, ‘people are time poor!’ ‘It won’t work if it’s not snackable’ ‘the average attention span for video content is now 0.001 seconds!.’ And sure, these things are roughly true, but these same people all read books and watch films. Prima face, there’s nothing wrong with content. Learners need something to learn.

The truth is, a lot of what we’ve seen described as a ‘Course’ is merely the same content arranged in a more user-friendly way. Now this is a step in the right direction, but likely won’t have the game changing impact we know e-learning can provide. The key difference between content exposure and e-learning comes down to two things, practice and feedback. The ideas are fundamentally quite simple, learning requires the attainment of understanding, deployment and repetition and feedback on whether the learner is getting better or worse. These are the areas to focus the thrust of the e-learning on and these are the areas that separate a course from some hosted content.

So right at the start ask yourself, where is the onus of my course? Are the actual ‘learning’ mechanisms taking a back seat to reams of unnecessary information?

Align Internally first

We’ve written in previous articles about the changing role of L&D across organisations post-pandemic. It must perform as a cross functional entity woven into everything the organisation does. Prior to this learning often operated in a silo outside of the core business functions and we think this has often filtered down into the way content was produced. It was all too easy to create cookie cutter ‘courses’ that copy and pasted text-based resources into e-learning programs. Job done, pat on the back learning for the year = tick. It was all about getting the relevant information to learners in a slightly better format and leaving it at that.

The message here is clear, if you want to focus on learning and training over content and courses L&D managers must have the conversation and align internally: Focussing on more positive outcomes might mean leaving some information out of the course or presenting it in a different way. This brings us nicely onto the next point.

Triage content hard

If we’ve got a lot of content and we want to make our course shorter, the answer is often, well, get rid of some content. Seems obvious doesn’t it, if the focus is on learning, some content might need to be streamlined. ‘Oh but it’s only the essential information in there, we’re sure’ our clients tell us, but often, there's more we can do. It’s really a question of assessing each individual word. Is it pulling its weight? Could this section be better represented by an animation or a simple diagram? So, get rid of the background, cut out the unnecessary story telling. In this game every word counts.

To summarise, at Carrot we think it's vital to critically asses our e-learning courses in terms of learning and content exposure. Have we just displayed the same info in another way and labelled it a ‘course’ or are we focussed on understanding, practice and feedback? Ultimately a balance between the two is where e-learning really comes into it’s own. It’s about saying here ios the relevant information to understand and, in equal measure, here are the tools to learn and test your understanding. For more information on how to write the perfect e-learning course contact the Carrot learning team on

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