How to remove barriers and make your elearning more widely available

Recent research from Towards Maturity suggests that the myth of ‘If you build it, they will come’ is alive and well. Some L&D teams feel that strict deadlines are the only way to guarantee views, but at the same time, 27% of users are unable to find what they need when they do browse their workplace learning. Something is amiss. In this article, we put the spotlight on the availability of your elearning, and how you can remove any barriers preventing your audience from finding and using it.


How available is your elearning?

In the world of elearning, we’re used to tracking our ‘completion rate’. In other words, the percentage of the people who start our elearning courses that make it to the end. But the bigger question is whether all of your target audience is able to access your digital learning in the first place.

Why should you care as much about total audience size as you do about completion?

Is your elearning inclusive?

The greatest win when you focus on your total potential audience is that you start to tap into audiences that may previously have been excluded from your elearning. People who are keen to learn, but aren’t able to use your digital content for various reasons.

For example, did you design your elearning considering the 70% of people who learn on mobile devices; the 1 in every 30 people in the UK who live with a sight loss; or the 1 in every 12 men who are colorblind? Would your elearning be accessible for all of those groups?


When you think about all the different people you could potentially reach, you inevitably start designing your elearning to be more inclusive, removing barriers that prevent eager learners from accessing your content. This is what we call a ‘people-centered’ approach to producing elearning.

Is your elearning working hard for your goals?

The fewer barriers you have, the more you can focus on reach, impact and avoiding missed opportunities. Let’s break it down. When you designed and developed your elearning, you had a specific target audience in mind. The more of that audience you manage to reach with your digital learning, the more people you can inspire and impact, and the more behaviours will change as a result.

The higher these numbers, the more likely you are to see a measurable improvement against your goals. And it’s best for business too; your ROI looks better and better with each additional person you engage, helping you demonstrate the value that your elearning delivers to the business.

The key to increasing those learner numbers is to make sure your elearning is widely available; the sixth and final pillar of our mantra. And it all starts with understanding the people at the centre of your elearning.


Making your elearning available to your audience

Let’s assume that you’ve already done some analysis of your audience in order to design an elearning experience that works for them. To work out if there are any barriers preventing your audience accessing your elearning, you’ll need to revisit this analysis, but this time with a different focus.

Understand your audience

Look at your learner profiles with fresh eyes. This time you’re not looking for clues on what kind of content would work for them, but how best to actually get the finished content in front of them in a form they can engage with easily.

With 70% of people moving on within 5-10 seconds if content isn’t obviously optimized for them (Bersin, 2018), you can’t afford not to consider these key questions.

Ask yourself:

  • Where are your audience located?
  • Which languages do they speak?
  • What devices are they using?
  • Do they have any specific requirements?
  • How reliable is their internet connection?

Relying on data rather than estimates to answer these questions will make your delivery decisions even easier to make.

If your platform or authoring tool offers you built in analytics, you’ll be able to answer some of these questions with hard figures.

For example, Towards Maturity’s Bridging the Divide report showed that 75% of people are using mobile devices to learn what they need: do your statistics tell a similar story?


Optimize your content for your audience

So what’s the data collection in aid of? Well, when you’ve got the facts you need about your audience, you can take their specific needs into account and target your delivery appropriately.

Take a look at some of these common audience insights and how you can respond to make sure your elearning is widely available .

Audience example 1: A global audience with different first languages

The audience is split between a few countries with different first languages.The majority speak English as a second language.

Make it available:

With most people only able to spare around 20 minutes per week to spend on learning (Bersin & Forbes), they are unlikely to have time to struggle through content that’s not in their first language.

You’ll make your elearning much more widely available by creating language variations for the audience subgroups. Not only does it make the learning experience quicker and easier for your audience, but it also shows that you respect and value them equally to their English-speaking colleagues. You can expect your engagement rate to increase as a result.

Creating language variations doesn’t have to be costly; check how to simplify your elearning translation process and wrap up multiple language variations in one SCORM file

Audience example 2: Mostly mobile users, with some desktop

A significant proportion of the audience are using mobile phones, but there are lots still clinging onto desktops.

Make it available:

You’re not alone! Towards Maturity’s Bridging the Divide report shows that more and more people are learning on mobile devices, but a significant 41% still say they learn at their desks.

As a first step, make sure you’re building your digital learning in a responsive authoring tool, so you only have to build the content once and it will work across all devices. Further to that, if there’s a clear primary device that the majority of your audience uses, you can make specific edits to ensure your content is optimized for that device.

Are you new to designing for mobile? Take a look at the tips and tricks in our free master class.


Audience example 3: Some accessibility needs

Several users use screen readers or other accessible technologies.

Make it available:

It’s crucial that users with accessibility requirements have an equal learning experience. There are two ways to achieve this; either by building your digital learning offer using interactions that are screen-reader compatible or, where it’s more appropriate, creating an alternative solution that’s better suited to individual requirements.

And remember, screen readers, tabbing or other accessible technologies are only half the battle. Your choices of colours and fonts can have a big impact for those with visual impairments, and your choice to include alt-text or not will determine whether images are accessible.


Audience example 4: Some people with low bandwidth

Many users are working in low-bandwidth areas of the world.

Make it available:

Low bandwidth is frustrating but often can’t be helped. To give users with poor connections an uninterrupted experience, consider removing video and audio. At the very least, ensure you have transcripts available as a back-up and try to keep each learning experience as short and light as possible.

Heatmap of internet connection speeds worldwide

Final thoughts

When you design your content with wide reach and inclusivity in mind, you can be confident that all your potential learners can access your digital learning without barriers. You can look forward to your engagement data improving, and you’ll know that your content is working as hard for you as it can, improving your ROI.

Making your elearning widely available is one of the six pillars of people-centred elearning. The most successful Elucidat projects we see our customers delivering are underpinned by these pillars.

Learn more, sign up to our people-centred series and get your hands on a free checklist.

People-centered elearning