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5 Challenges of Online Learning and 4 Tips to Overcome Them

Challenges of Online Learning and 4 Tips to Overcome Them

You want to take your training online. It’s convenient, accessible, and you can get material to your team or even your whole company without leaving your desk. 

But you’re worried about all the issues with online learning you’ve heard about in the past. You’re worried about being slowed down, or even worse, stuck at the starting line and racking up expenses without getting anywhere. 

We hear you — but thankfully, the days of painful online learning can be left in the past when you choose a modern LMS like Tovuti to get the job done for your team.

We’ll get to exactly why that is in this post and how to overcome common challenges of online learning so you can tap into this powerful way to train and develop your organization.

When Do Problems with Online Learning Occur?

Problems with online learning occur at several levels. You can have administrative-level problems, like technical issues, functionality mismatch, and reporting errors, that plague your team. There are also user-level issues, like communication challenges, technical difficulties, and frustration with content delivery, that can slow your learners down and add frustration you did not need to your agenda. 

For users and administrators alike, there are often technical problems that make for online learning issues, for example

  • Upload and download speed
  • Broken links
  • Content that can’t be uploaded or added to the course
  • Submission errors
  • Audio and video delays or errors
  • Navigation issues within the LMS

When you consider how frustrating it is for your computer to get glitchy (who hasn’t been there), layering in those who may be in your workforce who do not have solid technical skills, you’re surely telling yourself online learning issues will present you with nothing but IT pain. And it can — if you don’t have the correct procedures set up for handling IT issues and the right LMS to match up with your needs. 

That’s also a huge center for the challenges of online learning. 

When your LMS is a mismatch for your needs, you can end up with two online learning issues:

  1. Too many features you do need, making you overwhelmed
  2. Not enough of the features you need, making you frustrated

These problems can be avoided entirely by ensuring you find the right option for your needs. You should make sure you not only read the reviews of an LMS and skim the feature list, but make sure you can book a demo and see the tool in action and ask key questions.

We’ll cover this later in the post, but generally, you need to know a bit about what you want and need, and your budget, plus questions about the tool you didn’t seem to get answered elsewhere in your research. Often, there is an FAQ page that can be helpful for finding answers to common questions as well, so don’t fret if you miss something in the demo!

5 Common Issues with Online Learning

Common Issues with Online Learning

Understanding the key issues that face users and administrators of online learning is the first step to solving them! 

In this section, we’re going to break down the problems with online learning most commonly faced by users today. 

But don’t worry, we don’t just have a laundry list of online learning issues to share with you. We’ll get to some tips to solve these problems in just a little bit. 

So with that in mind, let’s get into 5 online learning issues most commonly faced by learners:

  1. Lack of engagement from learners
  2. Poor communication between learners and administrators
  3. Tracking challenges for attendance and participation
  4. Initial launch slowdowns
  5. LMS does not integrate well with your existing tech stack

Problem #1: Lack of Engagement

Did you know that engaged workforces are 21% more profitable

Knowing that it pays to engage your team is one of the many reasons leaders in organizations begin to seek out eLearning to change their business, but unfortunately, intent doesn’t always land as it should. 

Often, students cite lack of engagement as a primary problem with online learning because they feel disconnected from peers, their instructors, and the material itself, explaining why one study only found a satisfaction rate of 26% among learners.

Problem #2: Poor Communication

When communication breaks down, you can’t expect either administrator of online training or learners to get much out of the session. 

Whether it’s technical challenges or feeling disconnected from their peers, online learners feel the communication struggle. Research has shown that learners often feel isolated, overshadowed by peers, and are hesitant to speak up publicly. That’s not exactly conducive to a positive learning environment where everyone feels valued and gets value out of the course. 

This can be especially aggravated when employees are totally remote. Learners often report low engagement and interactivity, along with other problems caused by a lack of immediacy and non-verbal clues. There are some students who view the medium as faceless, and they feel it can easily lead to misunderstandings. For many new online learners, keyboard etiquette can pose problems, leading to miscommunications and tone problems, and most of all, frustration and disengagement.

Problem #3: Tracking Challenges

When you need to keep up with compliance, managing certifications is essential, and one of the common online learning issues administrators face is tracking progress and certifications. 

Some industries where compliance is common include

  • Healthcare
  • Finance and banking
  • Human resources
  • Food safety
  • Energy and mining
  • Manufacturing

Some LMSs don’t have the appropriate reporting tools you need to manage certificates and compliance for your team, rendering online training almost useless. Often, free tools can be limited in this scope, which is why investing in the right LMS for your business is so important.

Aside from compliance, you need to know how employees are progressing through their courses and how their scores are looking. After all, if you can’t determine who is doing the training and how they are doing, you may as well render your training efforts useless. 

Problem #4: Initial Launch Slow Downs

Implementing new software can take time. Experts suggest a timeline of 3 months to a full year to get your LMS up and running, and that doesn’t include the additional time that it takes to problem solve along the way. 

Often, these slowdowns that lead to online learning issues can be attributed to initial problems:

  • Not planning the rollout appropriately
  • Not choosing an LMS with the right features
  • Not having initial setup or onboarding training from the LMS
  • Not having the right support when you encounter problems
  • Not the right match between technical features and usability

When you get your tool off on the wrong foot, it can be frustrating for both administrators and learners alike. This doesn’t exactly help sell the effectiveness of online training if you can’t even get people to access it easily and problem-free in the first place.

Problem #5: Doesn’t Integrate Well

You use many tools in your business to get things done. From CRMs to video conferencing to email and sales enablement, you use a full stack of software that you’re not about to leave behind in order to use an LMS for online training. 

Choosing an LMS that has the right integrations is critical to your success because, like we just said, you can’t ditch your existing tools. You need them to work with your tools, not against them. 

For example, if you set up meetings with your learners as part of the scope and sequence of your course, and rely on Zoom for video calling, you need to be able to easily set up meetings in your LMS so that when a learner clicks on a button in the platform, it takes them to their virtual meeting. Looking for integrations is an important step in buying an LMS.

4 Tips to Overcome Online Learning Issues

Tips to Overcome Online Learning Issues

Overcoming challenges of online learning can unlock rewards for your business, from productivity to profitability. 

And with all the pain points we identified above in mind, here are five top tips for overcoming issues with online learning:

  1. Gamify your content
  2. Variety is crucial to engagement
  3. Choose your LMS carefully
  4. Develop an online community

Tip #1: Gamify

Our first tip for leaping over online learning hurdles is to incorporate gamification. Gamification, or introducing game design elements in non-game settings, is a common feature in LMS systems today. It keeps learners inspired and the learning flowing.

But don’t just take it from us. 

Gamified training results in 83% more motivated employees, and more than a third of employees prefer their training platforms to have game-like effects. Learners want gamification, and they will be more motivated because of it.

LMSs like Tovuti allow you to easily add fun and interactive content and features to learning and training courses. Plus, there are so many avenues to explore that you can find a way to incorporate gamification into your L&D plans. 

The table below outlines some common gamification features and how they work to mitigate the challenges of online learning.

Gamification Feature

Description

Checklists

Ensures learners know what to do, when, and what is left to do to complete courses

Certificates

Learners can obtain certifications and display them on their profile

Badges

Built-in badging capabilities allow you to automatically reward learners with badges

Leaderboard and points

Provide learners with points for completing actions, then display the highest point earners in company-wide leaderboards

By incorporating elements that your employees recognize from their favorite games, you can keep them tuned in and level up your productivity at the same time.

Tip #2: Variety is Your Friend

Variety of online learning

The saying, “variety is the spice of life,” can definitely be applied to solving online learning issues. 

Put yourself in your learners’ shoes, or maybe you’re completing learning and administering the course — you wouldn’t want to do the same, monotonous, repetitive training every time you need to log in or attend company learning initiatives. In fact, employees believe that choice and variety contribute to a great work experience, according to researchers

So when it comes to training your employees, you need to go beyond the basics and offer an engrossing program of learning rather than one of traditional training. 

A basic training plan for many employees may look like

  1. Attending live training for a day
  2. Reading a booklet or handout, or reviewing a PDF
  3. Watching a video
  4. Doing a quiz or test at the end

Sounds pretty simple, right? Some reading, some listening, and an assessment. Once upon a time, this was the standard for all training initiatives. But in today’s hiring and training landscape, where training is a make or break for employee satisfaction and productivity, you can’t afford to get stuck in the past with old-school training initiatives. 

Today, employees value training and feel it helps them reach their goals within an organization. More than three-quarters of employees feel they are not reaching their full potential at work because of a lack of development opportunities, and more than 70% of employees would move to a company that invests in employee development.

That is an awful lot of employees who would move on for better opportunities in training and development. 

So how do you keep enough variety in the scope and sequence of your training? 

A more engaging, varied training program kicks online learning challenges to the curb through sequences like

  1. An in-person event
  2. Online training modules
  3. Quiz
  4. Online live lecture in an interactive classroom
  5. Assignment
  6. Forum post
  7. Mentoring session
  8. Final quiz

Through a feature-rich LMS like Tovuti, you can incorporate these elements into your learning and development plans with ease, thanks to the built-in power of course authoring and integrations that work with existing content. Not sure what elements to include? No worries! Tovuti offers you a content library that allows you to select modules or entire courses to add to your employee’s training plan so you can add variety with ease.

Tip #3: Choose the Right LMS

Choosing the right tool for the job is always a challenge. This is especially true in eLearning. In order to overcome the common challenges of online learning, you need to select the right platform. 

Many of us who have run into online learning issues have done so because of the mismatch between our needs and wants, and what the LMS offers. Avoiding the frustration (and expense) of needing to re-select and re-deploy a learning management system to your team is crucial to the overall success of your learning program. 

The table below shows some questions you should ask yourself before buying an LMS to avoid common issues with online learning.

Category

Questions to Ask Yourself

Technical Requirements

  • Is it essential that the LMS be cloud-based? 
  • Is Single Sign-On (SSO) a feature your organization needs? 
  • What software platforms does the LMS need to integrate with? 
  • What APIs are necessary? 
  • Is a SCORM-compliant LMS required?
  • Do you need your LMS to be mobile-friendly? 
  • What issues may arise if the LMS doesn't fit into your organization's existing IT ecosystem, and is it worth the hassle? 

Functional Requirements

  • Is gamification supported?
  • Is the LMS capable of tracking certifications?
  • Is it able to provide you with the right assessment tools for your organization's needs?
  • Is microlearning supported?
  • What other features are important to you (video calling, event ticketing, reports)?

Budget

  • What is your initial set-up budget?
  • What is your budget for ongoing use of the software?
  • Do you need to budget extra staff support for implementation or development?
  • What extra fees, if any, are there?

Implementation & Ongoing Support Required

  • How comfortable are you with setting up the LMS on your own? 
  • If you are not comfortable or have the right knowledge, what support will the LMS give you?
  • How easy is it to get in touch with the support team?
  • Do you have onsite IT or other technical teams to help with set-up?

Design your selection criteria using the guiding questions above, but don’t skip input from the rest of your team. Talk to team members in as many departments as possible to avoid oversight. For instance, you may think one LMS is the perfect solution for your team, but if you take it to the payroll team and it can’t integrate with a tool they already use, then the LMS could be rendered useless. You should also be sure to read testimonials from current users to get a better understanding of how the tool functions and see how it stacks up against the competition. Tovuti is the #1 ranked LMS on the market, so you know you can trust this tool to get the job done.

Tip #4: Create an Online Community

Online Community

One of the most commonly reported problems with online learning is feeling disconnected from peers and teachers. Online learners often become isolated from their learning, thanks to the solo nature of traditional eLearning. 

This is reflected in the research about distance and online learning. 22% of distance learners report feeling isolated as a challenge, indicating the importance of personal interaction in learning. But don’t think this means your employees want to attend only in-person training, either. The majority of employees (89% to be exact) want training readily available to them wherever they are. 

That means employees do want training on their terms, and that’s possible thanks to the implementation of an LMS — just make sure it’s in a way that allows your employees to be social.

An LMS like Tovuti has a full suite of features that allow your users to get social online and alleviate online learning issues with communication:

  • Forums
  • Breakout rooms
  • Communities
  • Social profiles
  • Interactive lesson participation features

Features like these allow your users to interact with each other on a social network-like platform, form discussions, break into small groups, share accomplishments, and showcase their personality within your organization. By implementing these tools, your learners won’t feel like they’re on this learning journey alone. 

FAQ

Looking for answers to some commonly asked questions about online learning issues? We’ve got a few here, so you’re one step closer to choosing the right LMS platform for your learners. 

How to Help Employees That Have Issues With Online Learning?

You can help employees that have issues with online learning in a few ways. 

Prevent problems in the first place by choosing an LMS that meets your needs. You should evaluate each option using the selection criteria we mentioned earlier, which include evaluating technical, functional, budget, and support needs. 

Once your employee learning is up and running, you will need to set up a system and policy for reporting problems. Many LMSs like Tovuti offer your team the ability to submit a request for help in multiple ways, including email, phone, and support ticketing requests. This typically handles the technical aspect of troubleshooting. For content-based online learning issues, your team can set up ratings and comments to prompt users at the end of a module or course in order to get complete feedback from your learners that you can use to make modifications to your courses in the future.

What Online Learning Issues Can Employees Experience?

Online learning issues can plague employees in multiple ways. Employees often report lack of engagement, poor communication, and lack of support as issues they encounter with online learning. These issues can be addressed through the appropriate selection of an LMS for your company’s needs, employing gamification, and ensuring users are socially interactive online.

Overcome Online Learning Issues with Tovuti

Overcome Online Learning Issues with Tovuti

You know that the challenges of online learning can hold your team back from productivity, efficiency, and employee satisfaction. You also know your employees want this kind of training to be accessible to them. 

The solution? Choosing Tovuti as your LMS. Tovuti offers your team a comprehensive suite of tools that allow you to create dynamic, engaging learning for your users with a few clicks and make issues with online learning a thing of the past.

Watch a demo with Tovuti today to get your learning and development plans on track and find out what our users have to say by checking out our testimonials.

Author:
Tyson Chaplin

Tyson Chaplin earned his Master of Educational Technology degree from Boise State University in 2014. He also earned a graduate certificate in Technology Integration and holds teaching certificates in online teaching, special education, and history.

Tyson is an Idaho native who is passionate about technology and how it can help all people learn and better themselves. He has worked in both public and private sectors. Tyson enjoys cooking and traveling with his wife, Malia, and restores vintage video game systems in his free time.

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