Top tips for developing effective sustainability e-learning By Ross Primmer

Developing people’s knowledge and skills is not as easy as it looks. Getting people engaged in a topic is the first hurdle to overcome. Once you have them ‘through the door’, you need to keep their attention; they want to hear not only interesting facts and ideas, but also information that is relevant to their situation they can apply in their role and even outside of work – people have to see the value in what you’re sharing and how it applies to them.

This is as important for online learning as it is for face-to-face learning. With that in mind, here are our seven top tips for creating effective e-learning content:

1. Why are we here?

You need to be clear on what information you are trying to convey. Otherwise there is a risk that the learning can meander without focus on what you want the learners to come away knowing and being to do.

So, right at the start you should develop a clear set of Learning Outcomes (LO’s), stating that after the training you want the learners to know A, B, C and that they will be able to do X, Y, Z afterwards. And, ideally, these LO’s will tie directly into your corporate goals, whether they are for reducing carbon emissions, investing in social value, or other targets.

2. Know your audience

What do they already know? You don’t want to be teaching grandma to suck eggs! Pitching it at the right level is crucial – too easy and they will become bored and distracted; too hard and, well, they’ll become bored and distracted. Give them enough of what they know to make them confident in the subject matter, but then stretch them with new information, ideas and skills to take them out of their comfort zone and up to the next level.

3. Know your limits

There is only so much information a person can absorb in a sitting before their brain is full. While you might want to teach them everything, be really strict on yourself on how much you can get across for the information and skills to stick. It is usually less than you think. This applies as much to the amount of time spent learning as it does to the content being communicated. You can always come back later with a part two to build their skills even further.

4. Different strokes for different folks

We all learn in our own way. Some people like to read, others like to watch and listen. While others prefer to be active – kinaesthetic learning. Many people like a blend of all of these approaches. The best online courses are those that combine these different learning styles to enable as wide an audience as possible to get value from the learning.

5. Give them a voice

Learning is often most effective when it’s a two-way process. Conventional teaching – broadcasting information – is strengthened through interaction and discussion. Doing so cements the learning, checking they have understood the concepts and how to apply them. Use activities in your e-learning, such as questions, quizzes, drag and drop tests, and other exercises.

6. More carrot, less stick!

We have all had to do mandatory training, where you have to sign to prove you have completed it. Important, but often dull. While the stick does work, a carrot is more effective if you want the learning to become embedded for the longer term, rather than a fleeting exercise. Stating that the learner will get a CPD certificate is an easy way of achieving this, especially if it counts towards a professional qualification with bodies such as IEMA and CIPS, or the route towards a promotion.

7. Mix up the content

We’ve all done e-learning which feels like you’re simply clicking through someone’s PowerPoint slides. Include a variety of content, from videos, both animated and face to face, to custom graphics and interactive exercises. The inclusion of such content keeps your learner’s attention and helps ensure the learning sinks in.


So, in conclusion, you will always need great content, but how you present it to the learner is just as important.

For more information

Ross Primmer
Senior Consultant

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