The proliferation of online training courses has made it even easier for more people to learn new skills.
World events have required trainers, speakers, coaches and consultants to adapt from in-person delivery to virtual delivery.
Many have turned to Microsoft Teams to enable them to do that – and had to learn how to use it for effective presentations, webinars and sessions.
It’s why I created a Teams course specifically for trainers, speakers and coaches. When you don’t have the advantage of ‘seeing and feeling the room’, you have to ensure you can keep your online audience engaged throughout your time with them.
The fact we all have so much choice in the online learning field is, in principle, a good thing. However, it does mean there’s a challenge to sort the wheat from the chaff. Anybody can put together a ‘course’ and flog it on the internet. That’s no guarantee of quality.
Even when people do pick a course, there’s research to suggest many end up not completing all the modules.
Here are 8 reasons why that may be the case.
1. Human Nature
When someone buys and gets access to an online course, they typically fall into one of three camps.
Camp one holds the people who dive in straight away and get going. They finish a short course in one binge-watch sitting or have a plan for completing longer-term learning.
In camp two, you have those who make a start but then stop part-way through (and rarely finish the whole thing).
In the third group, are people who do nothing (or almost nothing) with the course. It just sits there in the cloud or in a folder on the hard drive.
This, for me, is just how human beings are.
The same three camps hold for all kinds of programme or activity: losing weight, going to the gym, journalling, running, writing a book or raising money for charity.
Some will complete, some will get part way, some won’t finish (or even start).
It’s human nature. It’s why all the courses in my online range offer lifetime access. People can start, stop and dip back in whenever they wish.
2. The Myth that Learning is a Race
A common thing I see with online programmes is people getting started and then stopping (for whatever reason, like ‘life just got in the way’).
They see other members in the (typically, private Facebook group) community making progress and it then feels like it’s a race – where they have fallen behind.
That can happen when you have a 30-day, 90-day or seven-month programme.
My online courses have no time constraints. Each one simply guides people through the essential tasks they’re likely to use in each Microsoft Office application.
There’s no race. Learning how to do something you’re not sure how to do (or how to do it more productively and efficiently) makes people a ‘winner’ in my book.
3. ‘Shiny New Object’ Syndrome
I’m probably as guilty as the next person with this.
We see something that catches our eye. We like the look, sound or feel of it. And we just want it.
On impulse, we buy it. And then it barely gets used, if it all. If there are virtual shelves in the world, many would hold online courses gathering virtual dust.
Part of that can be down to slick (and sometimes oily) marketing. However, the other part of the equation is our own self-discipline. Do we really think carefully enough about “Do I really need this?” before we buy?
4. The ‘Silver Bullet’ Myth and Overwhelm
This is sometimes linked to shiny new object syndrome.
People are sold a course which claims to solve all their business sales and marketing challenges.
Of course, it would be brilliant if that were the case. But it rarely is.
That’s because every business, however similar, is different. It has unique variations and degrees of challenge.
So, to suggest that a single course or programme can fix and solve everything for everybody is nonsense. When people realise this, having started a course, they will tend to give up and not complete the modules.
With ‘Silver Bullet’ promises, there is also the danger that the content is so daunting that people feel overwhelmed. And when you’re overwhelmed, you and I both know it makes starting that much harder.
You wonder if you’ll ever get through it all.
My aim is to give professional assistants the practical, step-by-step ‘how to’ for all the essential tasks they are ever likely to be given.
No silver bullet from me, just gold quality.
5. Dull or boring delivery
This applies to both in-person and online training, of course, but it is more pertinent to the virtual world.
That’s because when you are in a room with people, you can gauge the mood and concentration level quite easily. Especially if you are an experienced presenter. You can also be more kinaesthetic, move around, and change the energy fast.
Things are not so easy when you are ‘stuck’ in front of a laptop camera and have to remain in shot, typically sitting down. (If you stand up, you’ll probably have to stand for the whole session – or adjust your cameras as you sit, which creates a distraction).
It’s why I put energy and a good pace to my online courses – and inject some humour and fun into the whole thing.
6. Badly structured courses
Courses should have a logical structure, something that makes sense to the student.
That holds true whether they have bought one course or a box set of online courses.
Some people will go through the video training section by section, in order. Other people will zip straight to the piece they want to learn and know how to do.
It’s not just the order of the videos that is important. It’s also important to give each piece of training a clear title, so people know what to expect.
If students have to waste time trying to find what they’re looking for, it’s likely they will get fed up and be less inclined to finish the course.
It’s why I show my students of my online courses a list of the content they will be getting up front. The course curriculum is given for every course. That reassures them that what they are investing in is what they actually want and need.
And, of course, if someone needs a bit of help choosing between one course and another, they can always get in touch with me.
7. Outdated Content
A problem for some online training providers is they create some content – then just leave it for years.
That might be okay if the topic is learning to play chess, card games or the banjo. But if the training is around IT or technology, that’s no good to people.
Even though the essence of Microsoft applications rarely changes, each one does get a new version or updates over time. I’m exploring updates to Microsoft Teams, both for my books and online courses.
There is nothing worse than following a step-by-step guide and finding what’s on the trainer’s screen does not match what you’re seeing on your own.
With Microsoft Office, for example, it operates a little differently on Windows to Mac. To ensure that makes no difference to my students, all my online courses cover both operating systems. There’s either a version for Windows, a version for Mac or the course covers both in one go.
8. People’s commitment and dedication
We all know that the more we do something, the more confident we become at doing it.
When it comes to online learning, the trainer and content can make a big difference to the outcome. However, ultimately, it is down to the student to do the learning.
Human nature, as I keep saying, is human nature. Some people will do the work. Some will do part of the work. Some will do nothing.
There’s a saying that you get out what you put in. That’s very much my experience, as I’ve watched my students learn how to get the most out of Microsoft Office.
Characteristics of a Superhero
Some people just have more drive, more motivation and more of a ‘can do’ attitude than others. They are ideal clients for me because they are the most likely to become superheroes for their clients.
They recognise training as an investment in their future. They see how it will deliver a return year after year after year. They roll up their sleeves and say, “I’ve got this”.
Is there a course you’ve got sitting on your computer, waiting to be completed (or even started)?
Have you been muddling by with Microsoft Office, pouring hours into wading through old YouTube videos like treacle, knowing that it’s a really inefficient way to go? Especially when everything you need to know can be found in one place.
Every hour you spend trying to ‘work things out’ is an hour less of your professional time to sell or serve, an hour out of your day, an hour out of your life.
Here’s to the completer finisher in you.