Common digital learning mistakes – and how to avoid them.


design element
scrolling arrow down

Digital learning has skyrocketed in popularity since 2020. Those organisations who were still wedded to the classroom had no choice but to switch to digital learning, with many realising its full potential and efficacy throughout this time. However, this also means we’re seeing more mistakes popping up in digital learning content. In this blog we’re going to highlight some of the most common digital learning mistakes, and let you know how you can avoid them.


1. Designing on-demand and not for skills gaps

All too often, L&D become order takers. Somebody in the organisation asks for an eLearning course, a bite-sized module or a virtual instructor-led (ViLT) programme, and it’s created, no questions asked. But with the ongoing skills gap crisis and talent shortage, we need to be sure that learning helps our people meet their personal goals, and our business meets its objectives. This means identifying skills gaps within your organisations and creating learning solutions to fill those gaps.


2. Not considering cognitive load

Cognitive load is “concerned with the amount of information that short-term memory can hold at any given time”. Many researchers say that the average individual can hold just 7 items (or less) in their short-term memory. Beyond that, people do not retain any information. So, it’s important to bear cognitive load in mind when developing digital learning. Some great ways to reduce cognitive overload include:

  • Dividing complex problems or concepts into smaller steps. This art of chunking content is a fantastic way to make learning easier to understand.
  • Carefully consider your design. Do not use too many images, fonts, gifs, and other assets that could distract your learners.
  • Pair text and visuals with audio to boost knowledge comprehension and retention.

3. Overlooking user experience and interface

Modern learners expect their online learning to reflect the digital experiences they have elsewhere. So, this means that global tech organisations, such as Facebook, Google and Netflix, have set the bar high when it comes to user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design. So make sure your digital learning is easy to use and navigate, and that your learning platform is equally as easy to use (mobile responsiveness is very important here!)


4. Dismissing blended learning

Blended learning combines a range of online learning formats and face-to-face training interventions to provide the best possible learning experience for your people. Often organisations stick to just one form of learning content per topic. However, to truly boost learning efficacy, you should be using a range of formats in each topic. For example, if an organisation only delivers leadership training in a face-to-face environment, it’s good practice to supplement the classroom intervention with self-paced online learning, before and after the classroom training.


5. Churning out poor quality content

In recent years the technology behind authoring tools has developed rapidly. And by using these advanced tools, L&D practitioners can now create visually impressive eLearning modules in just a few clicks. But this rapid development is causing a hindrance to some organisations. Because it’s so quick and easy to create learning, many are pulling together courses with little planning or storyboarding. To make sure your learning is truly impactful, make sure:

  • You are planning each learning intervention carefully. Create a story throughout your learning to engage your learners.
  • You have thoroughly tested your course, checking for inconsistencies, spelling or grammatical errors and broken interactions.
  • You are including enough depth that your learners can truly grasp the topic at hand.


6. Not maintaining your learning platform

The learning platform market is a crowded space. We now have Talent Experience Platforms (TXP), Learning Experience Platforms (LXP), Learning Management Systems (LMS) and much more. But all too often, organisations create learning resources and send it out on old-fashioned, poorly maintained learning platforms. And the truth is, no matter how good your digital learning is, if your people find it hard to navigate your learning platform, you’re adding a barrier to learning. To ensure your learning platform is always fresh and easy to use, make sure your content is updated regularly, any forums are monitored and responded to, and your learning partner helps you with software updates as and when they’re needed.


Digital learning is a truly impactful tool to effectively upskill and reskill employees. However, if it’s done poorly – or if it falls into any of the traps highlighted above – it can deter learners forever. So, if you’re ready to utilise digital learning to its full potential, make sure you’re not falling into any common digital learning mistakes outlined above, and that your learning platform isn’t doing your content a disservice. If you want to discuss getting started with Totara TXP, why not get in touch with the experts here at Think Learning? We’d love to help you get started with this easy-to-use, intuitive and user-friendly platform.