Common E-learning Challenges and How to Conquer Them


by Richard Cassidy |

E-learning is a boon for all organizations, big or small. It’s a resourceful way of training your employees and keeping them up to date with times. It “boosts employee productivity as well as company profits.” In a knowledge-based economy, the importance of embracing learning cannot be overstated.

But for all its many benefits, e-learning also poses quite a few challenges to the staff and the trainers alike. In this post we are looking at the problem from the staff’s point of view, because ultimately for your e-learning efforts and investment to give you the desired results, you need to understand the common challenges faced by them.

Read on to learn more about common e-learning challenges facing employees and how to overcome them.

Adjusting to New Technology

Barring young people and those really keen on technology, the thought of operating new software gives most people nightmares.

An entire generation has now grown up using computers and the Internet, but there are many more generations for whom operating computers is far from their second nature.

This would certainly be more applicable to older people, but at the same time it would be wrong to say that all young people are tech-savvy.

If an e-learning program is going to introduce your staff to a new interface, which most likely it will, you will have to first devote ample time to make sure your employees are comfortable operating it. To assume that a short instructional video at the start of a course will do it for everybody is simply wrong.

You also need to bear in mind that not everybody is comfortable with the idea of admitting in a class that they are having trouble operating a system.

So what do you do?

Ask whoever designs your training or e-learning courses to use the simplest of software/templates to make their point.

If you are buying e-learning material from a vendor, go for the one that is the simplest to use.

Even so, you may have to dedicate at least one session to let your staff familiarize themselves with the software of the e-course.

A Lack of Relevance to Daily Responsibilities

All courses should ideally be tailored to the everyday duties and responsibilities of those undertaking them. Otherwise, e-learning would be an epic waste of time for all those involved.

Customized programs elicit a better response from the learners. Generic teaching material, on the other hand, will only confuse your employees and discourage them from attending similar programs in the future.

If it’s not possible for you to get all your e-learning material tailored, keep it highly relevant to the work challenges facing your staff.

Retention of the Material Learned

This is one of the biggest challenges faced by employees or learners in general. In our super-connected and technologically vibrant times, the generation of new research material and flow of information is higher than ever. In fact, insanely high.

A smart organization understands the need to keep its employees up to date with new developments in their field but if less than 10% of the material being taught is retained it defeats the purpose of investing highly in learning resources.

You can’t blame your staff for poor retention either. What you can and should do, however, is choose simple but interactive e-learning resources to make learning fun for your staff. When something is fun you tend to pay more attention to it, and as a result you tend to remember it for longer too.

Application of the Material in Day-to-Day Role

This follows directly from the previous point. All that theory needs to be put into practice now. Regardless of whether you tailor your e-learning programs directly to the daily roles of your staff or not, you need to teach them how to implement the lessons learned from the e-courses in their respective roles.

Don’t expect them to figure it out by themselves. (They might, but you shouldn’t count on it.) This will encourage retention of material and will ensure that time spent in e-learning has been worth it for your employees.

A Lack of Learning-Supportive Culture at Work

If you want your employees to be eager to learn new things and improve their current skill sets, you will have to make learning a part of your organizational culture.

Merely holding training programs once or twice a year is not going to cut it. You need to create a culture that encourages employees to learn. You need to provide them with resources (as well as incentives) to embrace continuous learning.

Employees that belong to organizations that place importance on all-round learning all the time are more likely to feel comfortable attending new e-learning courses and programs, and are also more likely to retain the material taught.

Furthermore, being able to count on organizational support as far as one’s learning requirements are concerned makes employees warm up to the idea of attending new courses.

Being habituated to e-learning also makes it easier for them to adapt to newer types of software in future e-programs.


E-learning doesn’t have to be boring, though all too often it is so. Any kind of learning should be fun but it should also be directly related to what the learners do in their professional capacity. Choose your e–learning resources wisely and if possible have them tailored to your employee requirements.

For best results, conduct a survey among your employees prior to introducing a new learning schedule to understand their needs, requirements, and also the common challenges they face with the electronic medium in general and with e-learning programs in particular. Implement the information thus gleaned going forward to ensure maximum returns on your e-learning investment.

— Featured image by John Eisenschenk, Flickr (used under Creative Commons) —

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About Richard Cassidy

Richard Cassidy serves as Director of Sales for Administrate, an online training administration system that helps training providers around the world save time and money. After three years as a Royal Marine Commando, Richard hung up his boots to launch Software as a Service (SaaS) products in the global healthcare and aviation sectors, before joining Administrate in 2011.

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