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5 Elements of the Best E-Learning Courses

As corporate training is constantly shifting and adapting to the needs of its consumers, the shared themes between strong e-learning courses may be difficult to see. Despite surface-level differences, most top-performing training courses are the same at heart—they all try to utilize the available tools to build a successful solution and improve job performance.

Effective e-learning is part art and part science; however, there are still a few rules that should never be broken while designing an effective training course.

1.Break It Up
Your learners are always going to be pressed for time, so the time and attention they can devote to your course must align with your course length. Knowing how much time your learners can or will spend engaged in a course needs to be a part of your audience analysis. It's best to split up the content into easily processed, bite-sized chunks. Most importantly, these chunks need to serve a specific function. Try to align one module with one skill or behavior if possible.

2. Make Course Navigation Engaging
Even if you're pushing compliance training, dry content should be a thing of the past. Research from University of Baltimore shows that when e-learning content is intentionally designed to be fun and upbeat, learners approach the material in a way that allows them to connect more deeply with the presented material. Georgia State University has found that learning is dependent upon your learners' ability to navigate the course content. Module design should prompt exploration, but your learners still need a clear path to completion.

3. Innovate Creative Content
Training design should not only be fun. It should improve the encoding, retention, and recall of the material at hand and it should be relevant. University of Baltimore research states, "The more authentic the problem or task, the more the student taps into the retention advantages of relevant instructional activities."

Each training module should target a specific knowledge base, critical thinking skill, behavior, or motivation that's integral to the underlying learning goal. This not only ensures relevance for your learners but also lends to using multiple modalities (i.e., interactive video, simulations, serious games, complex decision paths, etc.) within your course.

4. Provide Continued Support
Your learners may need more support after they've completed the initial training. To respond to these needs, providing supplemental resources (for example, checklists, FAQs, SOPs, or infographics) can go a long way toward reinforcing their knowledge and help them feel comfortable putting theory into practice.

5. Test Their Knowledge
Testing the learner's knowledge is not merely asking them to reiterate what they have just read or watched in a short video but asking questions that require them to think critically about the content and apply their knowledge to novel situations. Roleplay simulations—such as asking the learner to respond to a situation as they would in the workplace—become helpful tools learners can use to apply their new skills.


Though each course may be fundamentally unique, the elements that create an effective e-learning strategy are largely similar. Each of these rules plays a part in shaping the user experience and can ultimately assist in providing the best results for your learning program.

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