Why Corona will be a curse for eLearning

Thema: Design Thinking / eLearning
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Is it really a good time to release online courses right now? Here are 3 reasons for doubt.

With Social Distancing against Corona being more and more popular, so does eLearning offers. The assumption here is simple and compelling: more people need to stay at home, more people have more time. Hence, eLearning is king. Quod erat demonstrandum.

To be honest, I have my doubts about this reasoning. Here is why:

1) Do we really have more time for online trainings?

This might be very subjective, but personally speaking, I have less time than ever. As working parents and without child care, we need to juggle with 2 jobs, 1 child and the limited life of being socially distanced. On top of that, we need to figure out a new daily rhythm, how to cope with Corona, how to digest all that crisis information that is screaming on every channel. So, do we really have more time right now? Hell, no!

2) The chances of a great first impression?

Remote work is great and studies show that one can actually be much more productive because of the ability to focus, less distraction, etc. You know the story by now because I bet you read a dozen articles on remote work in the last 48hours.

I’m a big advocate of remote work, but my personal remote experience today went more like this:

Skype for Meeting call, no problem. Dialing in by phone? No response. Trying the toll-free number. No response. Trying the Skype for Business App. Guest Button won’t work. Trying to log in with my oooold Skype Account. Wrong password. Damn, there was this mixup with Microsoft accounts. Anyway, let’s try the web app. Plugin won’t work, neither Firefox nor Safari. Reboot the laptop. Still no luck. 15min late already. I suggest to everybody to switch over to Zoom. That works but 10min later call is ended because a co-worker is using the account for another call and unintentionally is ending the call. Puuuh…. 🤯

I hear the “but’s” now and granted, lots of individual errors included above. Yet I’m thinking, this must happen to a lot more people, now that everybody is working remotely. Systems will crash, video and audio quality will suffer, etc.

Imagine, you are new to the field of remote working or even video calls and that is your first impression. Will you still use it once you can go back to the office? Hell, no!

I would think this will happen to eLearning as well. All those new users will have a bad first impression. Because lots of people are trying it out for the first time. And the first glorious moment of eLearning, it will be ruined. What a pity!

3) Golden opportunities won’t make shit to gold.

I recently talked to a friend in the training industry. Their revenue share of online trainings compared to on-site training is 5%. And they position themselves as an online marketplace and win the hearts and budgets of numerous leaders who are convinced that eLearning will save time and travel budget. But the users of eLearning, what about their hearts and time budgets. Well, they choose on-site trainings in 95% of all choices.

He actually told me the story of one IT leader that introduced eLearning to his team and the team followed, because it was the leader’s baby project. But once he left for another job, the team vetoed any further eLearning offerings and went back to good old on-site trainings.

I probably should have started with an apology for that sub-headline, about eLearning and shit and stuff. My personal truth is, I haven’t really found a great online course yet. And I tried a lot last year. 🤷‍♂️

Our friend Seth Godin (and others as well) states, that whooping 97% of all online courses are not followed to the very end. 97% of students never completed their online courses! Imagine a university, where 97% of students eventually will stop their studies and will not graduate. Who wants to be president of that university? Hands up.

Something must be wrong. To quote our friend Seth again, the problem of eLearning is this:

As soon as education gets difficult it’s social pressure & peer pressure […] that often keeps us going. The typical online course provides precious little of any of these elements.

Coming back to Corona: if eLearning is broken and now we have the apparent golden opportunity, will this unbreak eLearning?

I doubt it. I do think, it might get worse. Golden opportunity lures people into quickly producing online courses to “ride the wave”. My assumption: quick course creation will not correlate with course quality. What a pity!

4) Online courses will drop as soon as on-site trainings are back

Right now, we are forced to use online trainings. Online training usage numbers will certainly go up. But what happens if on-site trainings are coming back as soon as Corona Crisis is “under control”.

My forecast: those numbers will drop significantly. Even worse, that golden opportunity will leave behind a significant amount of first-time users with a bad first impression.

From then on, eLearning providers will need to ask for a second chance. That is the curse of Corona for online trainings.

Disclaimer: I would consider myself rather an optimist so I truly hope all of the aforementioned will be considered hysteric writing in a couple of months. Fingers crossed! 🤞

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