How to Convince Higher Ups That “Fun” eLearning Is Good Business

Our eLearning Challenges blog series explores the common situations our clients face when deploying learning solutions. We use examples from real projects to help you uncover the best way to meet these challenges in your organization. This is Part 2. I interviewed VP of Client Relations Leanne Batchelder and Senior Learning Designer Kristen Hewett to gather these stories.

Many of the clients we talk to have their hearts set on delivering engaging, memorable learning experiences. They are excited and inspired, but worried about convincing stakeholders in their organizations that a fresh, fun approach really makes good business sense. It can be hard to explain why an eLearning course should be fun when “fun” is so difficult to measure.

We develop learning solutions of all shapes and sizes for our clients… and the format we use always depends on the client need. Sometimes it’s an interactive learning game. Other times, it’s an eLearning course that is more of a “tell.” Many clients today want a solution that looks and acts like an eLearning course, but includes gamification elements. Across all of these solutions, we’ve seen that learning experiences must be memorable to have a lasting impact.


When we add game elements and/or highly visual interactions to learning, we create a more powerful experience that can motivate and engage learners in ways that “Click NEXT to continue reading with stock photography” courses never will. The feedback we get from clients who go with eLearning that is designed with “fun” in mind is consistent: learners report higher engagement and enjoyment, job performance improves in the areas being measured, and the learning drives results.

Here are some examples:

An illustrated example

The example below is from the Building Evacuation course we developed for Roche Diagnostics. The entire course is illustrated with customer graphics and characters. Learners “play” through three buildings, each with a different emergency situation that requires employees to evacuate. Learners must use the official evacuation process to get out safely.

This is the landing page. Learners click a building to get started. The first time a learner takes this course, only one building is “open” to them; the other two become “unlocked” as the learner successfully evacuates the previous building. The first building’s challenge is easiest and offers the most feedback and access to the evacuation process job aid.

Building Evacuation - Landing Page

The second building is more challenging, telling learners when their choice is wrong, showing them the consequences, and asking them to try again, as you see here. The “right” answer is never given. Learners have the chance to “Ask Frank”, a Roche Safety expert, for help. The third building is the hardest challenge, forcing the learners to evacuate with no help from Frank, just as in real life.

Building Evacuation - Second scenario

You can access a section of the course here. 

A photo-driven example

This example is a generic version of an information security course we developed for another customer. This course focuses on keeping equipment and information safe when “mobile.”

The entire course relies on photos, rather than illustrations, of John who is travelling for work and must make decisions as he waits on his plane to arrive. If he makes the right choice, as you see below, he is given immediate feedback and asked if he wants to 1) play the scenario again or 2) move on to the next challenge. There is a bit of humor involved as well; bad choices show a computer virus attacking John’s laptop or someone stealing John’s laptop bag or cell phone, left unattended.

Info Security - Example Screens

You can access the course here.

A mix of illustrations and photos

Once you’ve produced some “fun” eLearning and seen success, it becomes much easier to convince your organization to do it again.

We are currently working with Roche Diagnostics to revamp their annual Bloodborne Pathogens Training. The training is compliance driven, so our goal is to make it as fun and motivating as possible. Many employees have seen the same information on preventing the spread of infections year after year, so we needed a way to encourage them to explore the material and grow their skills. We decided to use a gamified approach.

Since our Roche clients have seen the Building Evacuation course we created, they were already big supporters of using a similar approach for this course. They told us, “We want this course to be like Building Evac!”

The working title for the course is Avoid the BBPs.  Learners are asked to help capture and “defeat” the BBPs who have taken over various Roche labs. They must complete four levels in four laboratories, helping their coworkers make decisions related to on-the-job tasks.

Each level opens with a brief animated story that is destroyed by the BBP and then transitions to several mini-challenges. When learners complete each level, they earn an item – like a piece of PPE (personal protective equipment) or a biohazard label – that will unlock that portion of the post-test, allowing them to ultimately beat the BBPs. In a real life setting, it’s impossible to ever really “beat” a BBP – you just have to protect yourself as best you can and avoid them. Through the gamified approach, learners are able to practice doing just that.

Details bring learning to life:

The course is filled with unexpected details that come to life for the learners: The BBPs dance around and sit on things as you access the menu.  During videos and animations, the BBPs flash across the screen on Wild West style “Wanted” signs. When you answer questions correctly, the BBPs start fighting back. When you successfully avoid a BBP, they make a frightened sound and exclaim “oh no!” as they fade away. Colorful visuals, animated stories, sound effects and unexpected humor make this course fun!

Animated BBP characters

The internal screens use a combination of illustrated lab settings and real-life people photos to convey a feeling of fun and engagement while bringing realism to the challenges. The course ends with a post-test. Each of the items earned in the course challenges unlocks a portion of the post-test. At the end of a successful post-test, learners see a 15-second clip of the BBPs being avoided… in dramatic fashion.

BBP post-test

The quickest way to de-motivate your employees is to make them do something that they think is meaningless. We included a pre-test option at the beginning of the BBP course that allows experienced employees to test out of individual modules and levels. That way, they will only get the remediation they need and avoid spending time on material they have already mastered. We build this feature into courses whenever possible; it makes a big difference for learners.

Making the Business Case

When our clients decide to break from tradition and take a more fun and creative approach to their learning solutions, it’s typically because:

  1. We have produced similar projects for other divisions within their company and there is already a sense of trust.
  2. They are starting small and testing the “fun” out with a pilot program.
  3. They have seen samples of similar courses a vendor has created for other clients with success, so they feel comfortable trying it themselves.
You can use one (or all) of these approaches to make the business case for bringing a more fun, unexpected approach to your learning solutions.

Stay tuned for part three of eLearning Challenges!