aLearning Blog

Online Learning for Trade Associations

Secrets to Successful eLearning Revealed!

Posted by Ellen on July 7, 2011

Jeff Cobb and Celisa Steele at Tagoras have been very, very busy these days… We recently noted their updated LMS for Associations Report (see Tagoras On Target)  and now they’ve done it again. They’ve updated their 2009 State of the Sector report — with the all the insight and expertise you’d expect. They’ve renamed it the “Association Learning + Technology State of the Sector Report,” which bears a bit of attention.

Those of you who’ve been reading the aLearning blog awhile know I’m an old-school gal when it comes to terminology, so “elearning” and “online learning” are generally all-encompassing terms for me, and I use them pretty much interchangeably.

So for Tagoras to advocate using “learning and technology” instead of elearning will be a switch in lingo for me that I’m not sure I can guarantee I’ll adapt to, even if I do agree with it. And their point is well taken:

“…many limit the term e-learning to self-paced online courses and do not use it for Webinars, Webcasts, or other forms of educational experiences online, especially the burgeoning areas of informal and social learning. We wanted to be clear in the title that we think expansively about the role technology does and can play in association learning.”

Thankfully, they decided to default to “e-learning” throughout their text, but — as I said — their point is well taken about how elearning has evolved in its various formats, while the terminology tends to keep our thinking restricted to the “old ways.”

So, having clarified the nomenclature, let’s look a bit more closely at just one of the findings in the report (and, at more than 120 pages, an in-depth report it is):

“Notably, only 15% [of survey respondents] characterize their e-learning as very successful.”

Ikes! Just 15%?!?? Sad, but true. Why so few? The answer (I believe) is covered in the report’s very next sentence:

“We found that these organizations were significantly more likely than average to do the following:

  • View revenue generation as a key benefit
  • Make use of professional instructional design
  • Have a formal, documented e-learning strategy
  • Have a formal, documented product development process”


AH!! That explains it!

So here’s the bottom line: most organizations plunge into elearning without having thought through a strategy. And without a strategy, they won’t know how an instructional designer can help, nor what products they might be developing (and so they won’t create a development process…)….

All of which leads to a patchworked quilt of elearning programs: a Webinar and an archived version of it, followed by another Webinar, then maybe the organization ventures into another elearning format… none of which seems to generate the revenue that was hoped or planned for…

See how everything in that list of success factors is linked?

How ready are you to be “very successful”? What can you learn from those who achieved that level?

Find out from this new report.  Not tomorrow. Not next week. Today. Now.

5 Responses to “Secrets to Successful eLearning Revealed!”

  1. Dear Ellen

    Thank you for a very apt blog post. As they say, basics are difficult to practice and hence people do the easy things first of buying authoring tools first rather than deciding What and Why they want it.

    If we really looking at successful elearning implementation, we should start by asking these questions. Here is a interesting webinar on the subject.

  2. Ellen said

    Ayesha — Thanks for reading the aLearning Blog and for the link to info about your upcoming Webinar. Looks like it will focus on large, for-profit corporations, so although association and non-profit learning leaders tuning in will likely get value from tuning in, their situation will also be very different from your target audience.

  3. Stuart W. said

    I have been using Adobe Captivate since 2009 to design a High School level science course. It took me 3 years of working on my curriculum before I had “success”. However I feel I now do have a very powerful program and the last state exam bears that out. I still have 60 hours of work I plan on doing to improve it, but am always looking for tips and secrets on how to design effective elearning content.

    • Ellen said

      Stuart — Thanks for stopping by the aLearning Blog and for sharing your experience! I completely agree that effective, successful elearning takes time — kudos to you for continuing to improve what you’re creating and offering; obviously it’s paying back in fabulous ways! If you’re not a fan of Tom Kuhlman’s posts at the Rapid eLearning Blog ( you should tune in — full of practical advice and help that goes far beyond the specific Articulate product that he generally represents. Thanks for giving those high schoolers such a great elearning experience!

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