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The "Click Thru" Test: Mistakes in Corporate e-Learning

Paul Howe, strategic relationship manager, allen interactions by Paul Howe, VP Sales

When designing online courseware or even individual interactions, how do you know your learners will retain anything? How do you know they’ll be able say or do what is expected of them on the job? Answering these questions take us into potentially long discussion about instructional design, behavior change and measurement. Industry experts, including us, write books, speak and teach classes about these topics which I recommend, but for the purpose of this blog, I offer a simple test that can be used to look at the question in another way. How will you know if your design will not be retained and the learners will be unlikely to perform?

Have you ever taken a web-based training course and did everything in your power to get through it as fast as possible because you were busy? If not, try it. Take an online course, it can be one designed and developed by you or someone else. While taking the course, click the next arrow as fast as you can, guess at questions, pick a different answer without reading feedback. Do everything you can to advance without reading or listening to anything. My guess is that you will be able to find courses that you can complete by “guessing your way through” or “clicking your way through.” While there are other motivating factors that can be employed that will decrease the chances of learners behaving in this way, in today’s fast paced world, there is a good chance the majority of learners do what I asked of you. If they are allowed to do this without other mechanisms to engage them or motivate them to focus, there is a good chance you will know that your learners will be unlikely to retain information and perform on the job.

If a course is designed that fails the “click-thru-test”, there is a good chance that the only success that can be attained is checking off the “I completed the project” box.