Allow Learners to Fail in eLearning and Use Failure as an Opportunity

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” — J.K. Rowling

Although the concept of failing forward is widely discussed and makes sense, it has been the subject of limited academic research to date. In fact,  eLearning companies and eLearning professionals often recommend steering clear from making training too easy.

It’s perfectly normal to make an eLearning course challenging. We all learn from our mistakes in real life and the same is true in eLearning. A failure can be used as an opportunity to build memorable learning experiences, learn, and grow. In fact, a huge mistake one can make when planning an eLearning course would be to make the course too easy. Your learners love challenges. If those challenges bring temporary failures (and learning opportunities!) then the course and the content will only be more memorable, which means they will have a longer and more significant impact on the performance outside of the training course.

Our general approach to education has always been focused on eliminating and avoiding failures at all costs. And this is often reflected in eLearning Design and Development. What we might forget, is that our failures are lessons that shape us as individuals. No significant personal and professional growth can come without trying and failing. This is true for many aspects of our lives, and it’s certainly true for eLearning. So the next time you are developing an eLearning program, don’t be afraid to build-in various ways for the learners to fail and learn from their mistakes.

In fact, failure is life’s great teacher; it’s nature’s chisel that chips away at all the excess, stripping down egos as it molds and shapes us through divine intentions. Without failure, we’d be less capable of compassion, empathy, kindness, and great achievement; we would be less likely to reach for the moon and the stars.  When we think about failure, we think of things in a negative light. We say that failure is painful and that it causes emotional turmoil and upset, and inflicts agonizing pangs of guilt, regret, and remorse. But, for those that have known true failure, and have bounced back from it, understand that failure in life is necessary for success.


eLearning Company Blog | January 31, 2017