We get it: Change can be hard. But when your small private online course (SPOC) isn’t cutting it anymore, it’s probably time to make some alterations. After all, not only is ineffective training a waste of time, but it can be a burden on financial resources as well. If your SPOC is guilty of the following five offenses, it’s probably time to embrace change, revamp your course material, and learn to love more effective training.


1. You’re Missing Course Objectives
Learners always want to know what’s in it for them. When you introduce a SPOC with murky objectives (or worse, no objectives at all) you lose a percentage of learners before they ever open a file or watch a presentation. By defining clear objectives–what they’ll learn and why they need to know it–learners perceive the SPOC as necessary information and immediately become more engaged with the course material.

2. The Content is Redundant
Didn’t we learn this already? It’s practically the slogan for fed up learners everywhere. The more content you create through your LMS, the more you’ll realize that much of the content overlaps and repeats itself. Don’t be afraid to launch new topics while using similar (or the same material), just make sure that learners can skip over the parts they already know. It’s almost always better to encourage learners to refer back to old material when they need to, rather than push all learners through the same course again and again.

3. The Content Isn’t Relevant
Corporate training is rarely applicable to all employees. Usually, it’s highly contingent upon departments and roles. Unfortunately, a lot of SPOCs are designed for delivery to all employees, regardless of their job titles. Instead, SPOCs should align with a clearly defined target audience. Unless you’re focusing on leadership training, learners usually just want the basic information they need to do their jobs effectively–no more, no less. Don’t let your good intentions equate to a waste of time for learners.

4. Learners Can’t Customize the Experience
Pushing all learners through the same material at the same pace will result in two outcomes: First, learners who already know the information will get bored and disengage. Second, learners who are straggling behind will get overwhelmed and disengage. Either way, a lack of customization results in poor information absorption and retention. Instead, ensure that pacing can be chosen and adjusted by the learner to encourage a more personalized experience.

5. There’s No Follow Up
Just because a learner is finished with a module doesn’t mean the training is complete. Good SPOCs have some type of follow up, whether it’s a review quiz, scenarios to experience, or even a one-on-one with a trainer to answer any questions. Memory retention becomes much stronger when learners are forces to recall the information they’ve learned, so an SPOC without follow up really only does some of the job.

If you’re feeling a tug of guilt when reading through these common mistakes, it’s probably a sign that your SPOC needs a makeover to become more engaging, more motivational, and ultimately, more effective. That’s OK–we all make mistakes. As Maya Angelou said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Not that I know better, I do better.” Do better by your learners and take a second look at your SPOCs.