Why Off-the-Shelf Content Fails in Training

At a previous job, my employer rolled out a course on a learning management system. Tell me if this sounds familiar.

A tale of training

“Mandatory employee training” read the edict in my inbox. Every employee received it, it came from the sender, and everyone had to complete the half-hour online course in exactly two weeks.

This mid-sized office where I once worked had just become large enough to announce a new initiative: recurring training for all employees. “Ugh,” griped Emma who sat next to me. “Do I want the pain now or later?”

A week later, we all received another impersonal email reminding us of the deadline to complete the course. “Has anyone taken this yet?” asked Noah. Only Liam said he had. “How was it?” we asked. “Boring,” he replied. “I didn’t learn anything. Seems like it’s for the company to check a box and say we all took it.”

“Eh, I’ll wait then,” scoffed Noah. “And did anyone notice that they recommend taking it on Internet Explorer? Isn’t Microsoft getting rid of that browser?”

And just like everyone else—except Liam, of course—I waited until the last day. After I poured my morning coffee, I read through the instructions, which were for a PC. Most of my department used Macs, and I quickly discovered that the enterprise platform didn’t play well with Apple. One group ticket submitted to IT later, I was finally in.

In the course, I watched video scenarios and answered questions after each. They were narrated with subtitles. I read the text quickly and tried skipping through the course, but no dice. A popup admonished me to take my time and “Please view each scenario before advancing,” and the Continue button did not activate until the narration finished.

The videos looked like they were shot a dozen years ago for an accounting firm. I did not work in an accounting firm, not even 12 years ago.

Liam was right: I, too, didn’t learn anything. Later, his manager had no record that he’d completed the course, so he had to email her a screenshot.

Luckily, I finished my course before the majority of other employees did that day. So many people procrastinated that they all took the course at the last minute. As a result, the high traffic crashed the server!

Resistance is futility

The story I just told really happened. Clearly, someone in senior management thought this easy, off-the-shelf course would educate everyone conveniently and cheaply.

But, execution is everything.

A dated, generic product foisted on all employees created an immediate sense of resistance in us, especially in a department of very smart and capable people. Instead of fostering learning and building confidence, the company-first LMS bred resentment.

A better online training solution

I can imagine my same experience if that company had used Lessonly. Admins could have created and presented scenarios with specific examples, adjusting the Lessons for those specific to the different departments.

Even more, Admins could have created employee-first content specific to the industries and customers we were actually working with. Imagine my reaction if Emma, Liam, and Noah, dressed casually, showed up in the still photos or video of those scenarios!

A user-experience developer could revise the Lessons as a product updates launch or someone from corporate communications could use a timely scenario of an upcoming earnings statement.

Most importantly, customizing the Lessons to the company’s indigenous content and better focusing on what the employees need to gain from them communicates that training needs to benefit the team and its employees, not just the company.

If you’re ready to ditch your existing LMS, give Lessonly a try. Sign up and take a tour.

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