Best PracticesInstructional Media Strategies

11 Lessons learned from the manufacturing trenches – eLearning war stories

Avoid mistakes in eLearning development by learning from mine

In over twenty years of developing corporate training programs I have seen and learned a lot. Sometimes the lessons that stick the best are those learned from mistakes made. Save a bit of time and self-reflection by learning from some of mine:

  1. Don’t assume you’re welcome on a site for a video shoot

Keep in mind; you are taking up personnel time and disrupting the manufacturing process. Try to schedule when it is least disruptive and let all parties affected by the shoot know of your plans, needs and reason for the shoot

  1. Don’t assume that the way the SME described it is the way it’s done in the factory or the field

The content you are provided is not always accurate. It is best to always verify the accuracy by a second party who is accomplished at performing the task.

  1. Don’t assume you know who’s in charge

There are usually additional stakeholders who have a vested interest in the project. Be sure you are clear on who has ultimate approval authority

  1. Don’t assume anyone is going to provide you the materials they promised you (in the time frame they promised it)

Yes, you will have to be persistent in pursuing the resources and approvals needed for your course.

  1. Don’t develop for a technology platform that your users don’t have

I have actually developed a CD based program and delivered 2,000 copies and was later told that the audience didn’t have CD players. Be sure the deliverable platform is clearly identified and verified.

  1. Don’t use your friend or boss’s buddy for talent

Everyone has a friend, co-worker, or relative who would be great as your video talent, in your photo shoot or for your narrator. This rarely works out. Always request a demo first.

  1. Don’t be enamored with how funny you are

In person you may be quite humorous, but comedy is very difficult to pull off in corporate training. I had a client who insisted on using a live monkey as his course spokesperson. He didn’t make it to his next anniversary date at work.

  1. Don’t use a current pop-culture or movie reference in a course that needs to have a long shelf life

Your audience may not understand it and it will date your program quickly.

  1. Don’t use an 80s MTV music video as a theme for your program
  2. Don’t use talking animals
  3. AND don’t take this article too seriously…

I have been in all of these situations. Try to avoid or at least learn from these. And you can be certain; situations similar to these are waiting around the corner for YOU.

Live and learn.

Please share your eLearning development war stories and lessons learned below.

Ron Trilling
Author of Learning Lines | Founder and Partner, at Media Dynamics
Ron is a great source of information when it comes to eLearning. He has a background in instructional design and has worked with many companies to help develop their eLearning content and courses.
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  1. February 4, 2015 at 6:00 am — Reply

    Hi Ron,

    Except for the live monkeys, I think we shared many of the experience you described in your article. A great reminder to put quality first!



    • Ron Trilling
      February 4, 2015 at 8:53 am — Reply

      And the list will keep growing. This field is so interesting because we’re always learning and experiencing new things.

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