5 eLearning Myths Debunked

The last couple of years have brought on some significant changes in the world of training and learning. As the global learning landscape shifts from one of classroom lectures and workplace conferences to one that is more virtual, instructional designers are using the opportunity to create more innovative learning experiences. 

As with many new technologies and developments, there are bound to be some myths that pop up. So what is fact and what is fiction in regard to eLearning?

Let’s examine some of the most common eLearning myths. 

Myth #1 eLearning Is too Costly

With any training, there will be an investment. With traditional training, employers may need to invest in not only the instructor, but the venue, employee travel expenses, lodging, and per diems. Considering that the training may need to be repeated annually or to onboard new employees, this can add up quickly. 

With eLearning, there is an initial investment, but employees are then free to access the training at their own time and place. Without the need to travel, employees may be able to take more courses which can lead to more certifications, training-gap closures, and significant returns on your eLearning investment. 

Some of the ROIs of eLearning include: 

  • Real-time tracking and analytics.
  • Simplified course updates.
  • Brand personalization.
  • Increased learner engagement and accessibility.
  • Employee travel is not required.
  • Use the same course multiple times.
  • Measurable learner outcomes. 

Myth #2 Increased Interactivity Equates to Increased Engagement

Not necessarily! Plugging in random drag and drops or click to reveals will serve no purpose if there is no relevance to the learner and/or it disrupts the flow of the learning module. Yes, we want the learner to be involved in the course. But this isn’t accomplished with interactions that are included to simply get the learner moving their hand. 

Rather, think about how each interaction you decide to include will help the learner to develop a deeper understanding of the content being presented. 

For instance, if creating a course on travel safety, would it engage the learner more to click and reveal a list of facts about the inherent dangers of not safeguarding confidential information like a passport or to experience a scenario with characters who face this situation? In the latter, the learner will experience the situation rather than being told about it. Think critically about the value offered for each interaction. 

Myth #3 My Employees Will Not Like eLearning

The truth is that many employees may balk at any training. Often, however, conference-style training:

  • Can move at a pace not suitable for every learner. 
  • Conflicts with employees’ work schedules. 

eLearning can solve these problems. 

Because digital learning is self-paced, each learner can choose where and when to take the training, pause, review, take notes, etc. It is often easier and more productive when the learner can think through a concept or idea more critically without having the time constraints inherent in traditional instructor-led training. eLearning also provides more flexibility in that the learners can even complete the training off-site. 

Myth #4 All eLearning is the Same

There are some fantastic examples of eLearning available, especially since the rise of the pandemic and its subsequent increase in training alternatives for employees. There are also some great examples of eLearning that just don't work. 

Simply incorporating explosive graphics, animations, senseless interactions, and a lot of bells and whistles to an eLearning course does not make it effective. Our job is to make the content resonate with the learner. Adult learners want to know how the material will help them in their jobs and/or lives. They need to be able to make connections between their own experiences and the content. To ensure effective eLearning, instructional designers should:

  • Identify the target audience.
  • Explain the training goals and outcomes.
  • Ensure the content aligns with the learning objectives.
  • Incorporate principles of multimedia design to avoid cognitive overload.
  • Think critically about how to best use interactions to enhance learner retention and engagement. 
  • Move the project through iterative phases to evaluate and test.

Myth #5 eLearning Won’t Work for All Learning Styles

Here is the one that is perhaps the most controversial. Do learning styles actually exist? I say no. Hear me out before passing judgment though. The idea that we all have a learning style which is particular to how we each learn best has been ingrained in us since childhood. 

It is worth noting that we likely all have preferred learning styles. However, just because I prefer to learn visually doesn’t mean it is the only way I can learn. According to the Association for Psychological Science, several studies have shown that there is no correlation between perceived learning styles and the retention of material. 

What was discovered is that learners were more successful when: 

  • Learning sessions were spaced out.
  • Material was experienced in multiple modalities.
  • Frequent knowledge checks were employed.
  • Meaningful connections were made with engaging and interactive learning.

eLearning has the potential to meet all of these needs! Of course, the context of the material being presented will determine the type of presentation used. For instance, learners may be better able to put a machine together by watching a video or exploring a virtual reality simulation rather than reading a paragraph of text. The content should drive the delivery. 

Looking for more information on how eLearning might benefit your organization and improve the outcomes of your training programs? eLearning Brothers Custom eLearning Development can help answer your questions and tailor your training to meet your specific needs. 



The Problem with Learning Styles

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Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence

Harold Pashler, Mark McDaniel, Doug Rohrer, Robert Bjork

Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence - Harold Pashler, Mark McDaniel, Doug Rohrer, Robert Bjork, 2008 (sagepub.com)

Another Nail in the Coffin for Learning Styles? 

Polly R. Husmann

Another Nail in the Coffin for Learning Styles? Disparities among Undergraduate Anatomy Students' Study Strategies, Class Performance, and Reported VARK Learning Styles - PubMed (nih.gov)