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The top 10 e-learning challenges L&D professionals face every day

• 5 min read

Whether you’re dealing with a lack of budget, bandwidth, or buy-in, you can crush your biggest L&D challenges with these practical tips

Life is full of hurdles. Especially life as a learning and development professional.

In the world of L&D, learning and development challenges come with the territory—from battling bland training content to stretching shoestring budgets to pushing through the pandemic (and everything in between).

With so many obstacles to contend with, sometimes running a corporate training program can feel more like running the gauntlet.

Just another day in the L&D department

So we’ve pulled together a list of 10 of the biggest challenges L&D teams regularly face, and tips you can use to overcome them. 

1. Transforming dull subject matter into amazing e-learning experiences

Dry and dull subject matter is the bane of every L&D professional’s existence. You have to use a healthy dose of innovation, creativity, and every resource you can get your hands on to transform it into something engaging and exciting.

But sometimes it isn’t so much the subject matter that’s troublesome, but instead, where the information you’re using to build it comes from.

Social learning tools enable learners to ask questions and get answers directly from other users and internal subject matter experts and then share this knowledge across the organization.

Handing some control over to your learners and encouraging them to generate their own learning content (that’s then reviewed and validated by SMEs) is a major mindset shift, but it can produce valuable results.

In fact, one of Docebo’s customers, a major telecommunications company, used this method to increase learner satisfaction because learners found the content to be more relevant, authentic, and applicable to their jobs.

2. Lack of learner engagement and motivation

Unfortunately, not every online learner is going to be 100% committed to the e-learning experience. They may be distracted, busy, or simply unmotivated. We live in an age where attention is at a premium and learners have access to more information than they can consume. All of these hurdles prevent them from actively engaging with online learning programs.

To counteract this, you must provide them with interactive and immersive e-learning courses that reflect their interests and align with their goals. They have to see the value in the e-learning course if you want them to actively participate.

As a start, three key ways to drive engagement are; microlearning, gamification and building hype for upcoming content.

3. Staying up-to-date with modern tech

Every year welcomes new tech tools, gadgets, and software that you can use to improve e-learning delivery methods. But, with so much digital transformation, it can be hard to tell which new learning technology is worth the investment.

Attend tech conferences, events, and trade shows. Read articles, blogs, reviews, and even case studies related to these technologies. Doing so keeps you up-to-date with what’s being developed and, most importantly, helps you determine which modern learning solutions will best address your training needs.

4. Designing e-learning courses for different generations

Learning content isn’t one-size fits all. Your audience is now made up of four different generations—Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z, which can make it challenging to create generic e-learning experiences for all since each generation has its own unique traits and needs.

Overcome this by learning as much as you can about your learners’ goals, preferences, and backgrounds through surveys or using a learning solution that collects data on behavior, which you can then analyze.

Use your new, in-depth data to create learner personas that allow you to customize the learning experience based on the experience level and tech-savviness of each learning group.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can bring automated and personalized learning to life by enabling your learning experience to be truly responsive to your learners’ needs. An AI-powered platform will adapt intelligently to users’ requests and allow them to take control of their own learning, growth, and new skills development.

5. Unrealistic deadlines

We’ve all had to deal with next-to-impossible deadlines that made us lose sleep and stress out. But no matter how many times you try to shift things around and reallocate resources, you just can’t seem to make tight timelines work in your favor. The secret to overcoming unrealistic deadlines is full transparency and honesty.

Make sure that people setting the deadlines (directors or senior management) are aware of every step involved in the e-learning process so they know just how much work goes into delivering learning outcomes that provide value to the entire organization and align to business objectives.

6. Inexperienced partners

Challenge #5 is often linked to #6. If people aren’t familiar with e-learning initiatives, they won’t be aren’t aware of how difficult the design and development process can be. That’s why it’s so important to sit down with them beforehand and explain what you’ll be doing, what your metrics of success will be, how you’ll achieve your goals, and how often they can expect a progress report. If they know what’s going on behind the scenes they’ll usually be much more cooperative and understanding.

7. Subject matter experts with no prior instructional design knowledge

From time to time, you’ll come across a subject matter expert who’s new to the world of e-learning and doesn’t know much about instructional design models and related theories.

Equip experts with a list of online resources they can use to brush up on the basics. But remember, as mentioned above, it doesn’t always have to be your SMEs who create the learning content. You can lean on your workforce. Empower employees to contribute content, like short explainer videos about common pain points they face and how they address them, by adding a social learning module to your technology platform.

8. Balancing tight e-learning budgets

Not all e-learning projects are going to come with unlimited budgets. In fact, most will be restricted to limited financial resources, so you’ll have to get creative to work with what you’ve got. Before starting any e-learning project, draft a detailed budget that includes any and all expenses. Make sure to have a realistic estimate of what the project is going to require before you turn in your proposal. Otherwise, you may have to dig into your profit margin to deliver a final product that lives up to expectations.

9. Whittling down the “need to know” info

There are times when there’s so much content, you don’t even know where to begin. In cases like these, a good place to start is with bringing an experienced SME on board to do some audience research. This will help you identify the information that’s most relevant to your various audiences. It’s important to consider cognitive overload when you’re creating your content. If it doesn’t align with the goals and objectives, it may be best to just leave it out.

10. Finding the perfect e-learning authoring tool or learning platform

If you’ve had to choose a new e-learning authoring tool or Learning Management System LMS) in the past, then you already know how challenging the selection process can be. There are so many e-learning authoring tools and learning platforms to choose from and so little time. It’s wise to narrow down your list of must-have features and then take full advantage of free demos and trials. Doing so helps you choose the tool that’s just right for the needs of your learners and your e-learning development team.

Fortunately, the pros by far outweigh the cons when it comes to working in L&D. When it’s done right (read: when you’ve got the right technology to support your objectives), there’s the potential for big returns in engagement, productivity, efficiency, and performance.