The tremendous growth in the use of online training, whether for remote or gig workers or in-house use, presents the opportunity for learning and development (L&D) teams to shine with outstanding eLearning content. Creating effective, engaging courses that work for the target learner pool is not easy, though, and too often, companies take the easy path: One-size-fits-all eLearning content that attempts to cover everything in a single module.

We can do better!

These five tips and techniques will improve your eLearning content and put your organization on the path to better training — and business — outcomes.

1. Imagine eLearning content beyond SCORM modules

LMS-based SCORM modules are the mainstay of corporate eLearning — and for some eLearning content, they are indeed the best choice.

But they are far from the only choice. Microlearning, text-message or chatbot-based content, infographics, videos, podcasts, eBooks, immersive simulations … the list of options is limited only by your imagination and available resources. Check out what your team and your tools are capable of, brainstorm some new ideas, and, most important, think about who your learners are and how they will use the eLearning content.

  • Is your goal knowledge transfer and retention? Consider a continuous learning paradigm, perhaps based on microlearning, delivered in short bursts daily or multiple times per week.
  • For behavior change, consider simulations and scenario-based learning.
  • To teach a process, consider videos.

2. Write clear, meaningful learning goals

Three red darts in the center of a target, against a blue sky.

Rather than just decide ahead of time that training is the solution to the problem, any problem, think about why you are training learners. After completing your eLearning content, what do your learners need to know or be able to do?

Learning goals need to be specific and measurable. They should include an action verb, possibly selected from Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, which helps educators build a path to take learners from basic knowledge to high-level thinking and understanding.

A sample goal might be: Execute the data filtering process and display the results in a bar graph. Or: Produce a 3-minute video on safe food-storage practices for dairy products.

These are easily measurable — is there a graph or a video? And the end product will demonstrate how well the learner has understood and applied the learning material.

3. Engage learners with a great story

The same information can be presented to learners in very different ways, even within a format. For instance, your eLearning content can be dense and factual, listing and describing complex information. Or it can use the same facts to build a story.

A narrative story adds elements, such as relatable characters and events that could happen to the learner, that makes the content seem alive and relevant. That’s why good stories are so engaging and memorable.

Adding these elements boosts the effectiveness of your online training materials and ensures that learners will retain the material longer.

4. Less really IS more

No single eLearning course can be all things to all learners. Instead of trying to create an encyclopedia, focus your eLearning content narrowly. Once you’ve defined your learning goals (tip #2), review the massive body of content — and select only the content that is essential to achieving those goals.

Eliminate everything else!

Consider linking resources for nice-to-know or enriching content that is directly relevant to your learning goals, but avoid the trap of including every bit of information, no matter how tangential or seldom-used, in your online training module.

5. Let learners know how they’re doing

Including feedback throughout your eLearning content is powerful. Feedback is often provided through knowledge checks and other activities sprinkled throughout the training.

It serves several purposes:

  • The activities give learners opportunities to check their understanding and, even more critically, apply what they are learning.
  • If learners make a mistake, the feedback helps them catch — and correct — it early.
  • Delivering feedback for correct as well as incorrect responses reinforces the learning material.
  • Feedback reduces learners’ uncertainty by reassuring them that they are on the right path — or guiding them to review information they haven’t fully understood.

Better eLearning content leads to better performance

Your learners are focused on online training now, whether they are working from home or have returned to the office. Showcase your skills and boost performance and results with new and improved eLearning content that they’ll find engaging, relevant, and enjoyable!

Poor Use with
Adult Learners
Effective with
Adult Learners


Simple games layered on top of content

Scenario-based games that use the content

Leaderboards, competition

Fan excessive competition among employees or teams by offering large prizes for top performers and/or shaming those with lower scores

Challenge employees to beat their own past performance, or design a leaderboard that shows each employee only the four scorers above and below them

Points, rewards, badges

Award points or levels for completing sections of training or playing for a set number of minutes

Award levels, badges or points for recalling or applying content correctly, demonstrating mastery

  • Remember — bookmark, google, link, search
  • Understand — annotate, Boolean search, journal, tweet
  • Apply — chart, display, execute, present, upload
  • Analyze — attribute, deconstruct, illustrate, mash, mind map
  • Evaluate — comment, editorialize, moderate, network, post
  • Create — blog, film, integrate, podcast, program, publish
A smiling, mature man with short brown hair and a mustache. He sports a black suit jacket and a gray button up shirt with no tie.

As Neovation's Manitoba Territory Manager, I'm continually reminded of the resiliency, innovation, and initiative of Manitoba’s business community. Seeing these budding entrepreneurs develop and present their business plans reinforces that Manitoba is a great place to do business.

– Gord Holmes

Traditional learning
Adaptive learning
Difficult to measure results
Measurable analytics to prove ROI
One-size-fits-all training
Personalized training workflows
Facilitates skills gap between employees
Reduces skills gap between employees
Lower engagement and course abandonment
Increased engagement and user satisfaction
Time saved for the L&D department
Pamela S. Hogle

An experienced writer, editor, tech writer, and blogger, Pam helps you make sense of learning science and eLearning technology. She provides information you can use to drive improvements in your training effectiveness and ROI.

Read more articles by Pamela S. Hogle