What is more important eLearning System or eLearning Content?

Vinayak Khadye / No Comments

I have seen a number of organisations spending a lot of time & money in first implementing an expensive eLearning platform & building eLearning Content and then only a few months or years later wondering why their eLearning initiative hasn’t met expected success despite having the world-class system. There are normally many reasons for the eLearning initiatives that contribute to the failure. However, the most common question that is encountered while diagnosing the failure is, whether was it the system or the eLearning Content that was responsible the failure.

eLearning system is the delivery mechanism to deliver the eLearning system. It helps the organisation to administer the learning and has to have at least the following features such as:
– Ability to set-up eLearning courses- Ability to configure exams / quizzes / tests
– Ability to view the eLearning Content
– Ability to participate in Virtual Classrooms
– Ability to undergo exams / tests
– Ability to distribute notes / documents regarding the course content
– Ability to manage users
– Ability to track the performance of the learners

While on the other hand eLearning content:
– Has to be relevant
– Has to be of the right duration
– Has to have the right of interactivity
– Has to be engaging in terms of the style of presentation

As long as the system performs and content meets the above requirements, eLearning initiatives should have a fair chance to succeed. Both the elearning content and the system are important pieces of the the overall eLearning puzzle. So, when it is asked what is important, the content or the system, the answer is not easy.

Very generically speaking, when I evaluate the relative importance of the system and the content, I take the help of Herzberg’s two factor theory of Motivation and Hygiene factors. According to this theory, motivators are those factors, the presence of which motivates people and absence demotivates, while hygiene factors are those factors, presence of which may not motivate people but absence certainly demotivate.

For me, in the context of eLearning, the eLearning System is the hygiene factor, while the Content, the motivation factor. So, the organisation has to invest time and money to make sure that content is relevant, creative, and engaging for the learners, while for the system, not just functionality but also other non-functional requirements such as the following need to be given attention:
– User Interface: Is it really user friendly and cheerful?
– Navigation: Is it simple and intituitve
– Multi-device support: Is system easily accessible from all the types of devices?
– Performance: Are the system response times acceptable to the learners?
– Availability: Is the system available uninterrupted for the learner?

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