E-learning or “The next boring compulsory training”

Left in - right out. Repetition does not make for successful learning. There is a need to catch up especially in the conception and implementation of compulsory training.

“We just change the date”

They are usually experienced as an unwelcome necessity, but they are indispensable when it comes to safety. In the current times of Corona, hygiene and emergency plans help to save lives. Now it becomes apparent how the learning content has been internalised and how the staff have learned to apply it in practice in a situational, quick and safe manner. Because there is no time to think and reflect.

Studying vs. learning

Actress and Harvard graduate Natalie Portman (Black Swan, Star Wars) sums it up: “I don’t love studying. I hate studying. I like learning. Learning is beautiful.”

“Studying” refers to the externally motivated way of learning. Every single person probably knows this from their school days. To dismiss the typical student question “Why do I need to know this?” with “Because it will be asked in the class test” is an externally motivated way of learning. This pressure can work and lead to learning the content – but it is definitely not sustainable. “Learning”, on the other hand, means learning out of curiosity, with the conviction that I will somehow make progress if this new content opens up to me. Curiosity is inherent in us humans. It is instinctive and important for our development. And it can be awakened. With the right communicative concept, you can ensure that employees not only undertake training of their own accord, but even repeat it voluntarily.

Learning can fail in reality: context analysis

However, before you can actually start working on the training concept and the learning content, it is important to take a close look at the situation on site. Even the best idea and the most creative learning content can fail in reality. That is why we start with a so-called context analysis. The core questions are:

What technical possibilities are available to the employees in different areas? Are there places and rooms where learning can take place undisturbed? What previous knowledge is there on the subject and can I build on this?

For example, all staff members have screens with built-in speakers. However, these employees sit in open-plan offices and headphones are not available. Conflicts are therefore pre-programmed when the training focuses on necessary auditory content. Such conflicts are not uncommon and must be taken into account when planning a training course.

Concept: Learning from video games

Context-based factors are fundamental to use. But what makes a training attractive? The answer can be found in the entertainment sector with the highest turnover in the world: video games. Like no other medium, video games succeed in making players want to experience the stories, what they have seen or played, several times. And here we come full circle to compulsory education. It, too, is repetitive. Don’t worry, it’s not about implementing video games as training. Nor are we talking about gamification. Giving employees little badges and assigning high scores to tasks can be helpful, but it is not the core aspect of good training design. The two points that, in our experience, should be taken from game development and used for training in the workplace are:



Co-determination gives some control back to the learners. It is an essential part of interactivity and lets learners determine in what order and to what extent they want to learn certain content. This works towards recognising each individual’s prior knowledge and at the same time creates excitement. Perhaps a learner can only unlock a certain pathway if they have chosen a certain course of action in the previous quiz. Let your learners make choices that also have consequences.

Like real life

And this is where immersion comes in. The term means immersion in a fictional world. Immersion in narrated content. Many e-learning break off at just one wrong choice made by the learner and force the learner to answer the question again (correctly). This destroys immersion, because that’s not how our everyday lives as humans work. One mistake on the job and they have to stop immediately, turn back time and try again? No.

In real life you have to live with the consequences of your mistakes and move on. Try to find a solution. Why not design an e-learning that lets them know through consequences where they have made sub-optimal choices. If the effect is great enough and learners have missed out on excitingly prepared content as a result, people tend to want to go back and do better.

“Would you have an example of such compulsory training?” Yes we would, and it’s in our next article, in which music plays a big role. So it’s worth having a look.


What’s the next step?

For a personal consultation, feel free to contact me at any time.

Mirja Ng-Metzker

Client Relations Manager