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Why Does Traditional eLearning Design Not Work?

In the last decade, eLearning programs are becoming the preferred mode of employee learning and training. The flexibility of time, place, and pace make eLearning a popular choice. Learners are comfortable attending online training courses and follow the basic routine of registration, reading training materials, completing assignments, and receiving feedback or certificates.

However, traditional eLearning courses may sometimes get boring. If the courses are presented with a curriculum, even if it includes videos or webinars, learners might still find it boring. In this blog, we will find out why traditional eLearning fails and how modern workplace learning solutions can be made more interesting.

Traditional eLearning Course Design

The traditional way of learning has been to go to the repository of learning material, pick up the topic, read, and learn. The learner is supposed to gain the knowledge and apply it in the right context, effectively and successfully.

The purpose of traditional eLearning is to deliver learning modules. There is no objective beyond that boundary to find out if their learning experiences are good, if they are able to retain the knowledge, measure the course completion rates, and gauge the effectiveness of learning.

Traditional eLearning course content is delivered in modules with a long duration, assuming that the learners will use their desktops. The modules often include one or more of the following:

Text-heavy documents:

These are delivered for the topics that the learners need to complete.

  • PowerPoint presentations: topics shown in bullet points, with links to the references to read more

  • Stock images used in the documents/ presentations

  • Previous and next buttons, to show interactivity

The main focus here is on providing the required knowledge rather than focusing on the learning outcomes.

Let’s take the example of applying Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning to determine the learning path and the course design. The following are the levels considered during the design:


Bloom’s Level

What it Means

Method Adopted



Understand, remember, list

Videos, learning materials



Explain, identify, and restate




Interpret, demonstrate, and apply

Roleplay, simulation



Analyze, compare, test




Evaluate, judge

Mentoring, rating



Create, imagine, plan

Reviewing, planning, collaboration

Traditional eLearning addresses the learning needs till level 2, maximum 3. The rest are left to the learner, assuming that they can achieve the subsequent levels on their own.

Comparison of Traditional eLearning Design and Current Requirements

So, where does the traditional eLearning design fail against the current requirements or expectations of the learners? Here’s the comparison.

Constituents of Traditional eLearning

Current Expectations

A complete chapter/unit/module is assigned to the learner, irrespective of the length or duration

Bite-size, quick and easy to read

Text-heavy content

More visuals, state-of-the-art multimedia

Content is not personalized based on current skill level and expected skill levels

Personalized content based on current and expected skill levels & experience

Often boring, lacking challenges, low learner engagement, and no motivation to learn

Fun with gamified content, including challenges and levels resulting in high level of engagement and motivation

Accessed from desktops

Accessible from any devices (mobile, tablet, laptop)

No community/collaboration

Community, Collaboration, and Integrating Feedback

Learner and educator are not connected continuously

Educators and learners are part of discussion board, announcements, file-sharing and virtual chats

No specific rewards/ incentives

Badges, points/ stars to reward the learners achieving their learning goals

No administration of learning progress or feedback

Continuous monitoring of learner’s progress through the learning map

Interactivity: Previous and Next buttons

True interactivity, the most realistic way

Knowledge retention rate: Low

Knowledge retention rate: High

Completion rate: Low

Completion rate: High

Learners are comfortable using smartphones, laptops, and tablets to access eLearning. Diminishing attention spans necessitate the use of microlearning and video-based learning to deliver engaging learning content and meet the learning objectives.

Read our blog to know more about engaging learners at the workplace with quality online learning programs.

Organizations Adopting Modern eLearning Are Improving

We have spoken about the expectations of current learners. To address these expectations, eLearning has evolved over time, shifting from template-driven courses to functional, impact-driven, and result-oriented eLearning. There is a significant transformation in modern eLearning courses in terms of a personalized learner experience, multi-device deployment through mobile learning apps, LMSs, and LXPs, and learning nudges through spaced learning and reminders that motivate the learners.

A modern approach to eLearning design and deployment has helped organizations improve their employee training strategies. The results of adopting modern eLearning are clearly visible in terms of a higher level of learner engagement, motivation, completion rate, speed of learning, and improvement in productivity. Coca-Cola is consistently cited as an organization that has one of the best L&D teams. Over the years, the parent organization has made substantial investments in L&D and training of its employees and subsidiaries to improve employee skills and concurrently make more profits. Do read this article to learn how Coca-Cola leveraged L&D to power its business transformation.

It is thus significantly clear that organizations should steer away from template-driven off-the-shelf learning that is just white-labeled and sold. Modern eLearning design requires a clear understanding of the target audience and specific learning objectives that need to be met with bespoke learning solutions. If you are looking for impact-driven employee training solutions for your organization, we can help you design the training with a modern eLearning approach. Contact us for more information at


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