Is Compliance Learning Holding Us Back?

The largest driver for purchasing elearning in the corporate training environment is still getting employees fully compliant. For many organisations, this is the only cause for procuring elearning. As a result, elearning remains in a vicious circle which doesn’t necessarily lead to good design that motivates the workforce. The biggest challenge is, of course, making compliance learning interesting; many elearning vendors have tried their best to disrupt this space and some have succeeded. For example, using immersive learning experiences and gamification has greatly increased engagement and interest.

Examples of compliance elearning cases that have gone wrong include the common ‘click next’ exercise, as well as the ‘download the pdf policy’ to prove you have read it. Of course the LMS houses all this information to prove to the training department that employees are compliant.

So, what do we mean by the ‘compliance vicious circle’? Well if training continues to involve a SCORM and a tracking mechanism, you are restricting the learning experience as learners feel like someone’s watching them; this is not what adult learners want. However, given that learners are forced to complete their compliance learning, and training departments need to track learning within a tight budget, this is set to continue.

What’s the opportunity?

Within the compliance elearning space we can still house a LMS with SCORM content, but the real opportunity is in using Tin Can or xAPI. This tracks much more than the typical ‘pass and fail’ stats that a SCORM package does. Take learner in the professional services sector as an example. Typically, they have to do a certain amount of learning per month; this is usually informal learning and could be offline. Within the learning ecosystem, there’s an opportunity to create a different type of learning based on the verb ‘doing’ which is at the heart of Tin Can.

For example, take creating a corporate learning portal, which could be a website developed and implemented in-house or outsourced. Using Tin Can, you will be able to create a series of ‘hooks’ which are based around what the learner has done, such as watched a video, engaged in a forum discussion or even accessed a SCORM package.

You can track all of this using Tin Can. The training team can then access the reports using the Learning Record Store (LRS) to see how many hours elearning the individual learner has accessed, thus satisfying the compliance requirements of the organisation. Furthermore, leading LMSs including Totara are planning to build Tin Can capabilities within their LMS, so that they also enable this new way of learning.

Training departments need compliance learning, but they have a tight budget and need quick turnarounds. Learners want to be engaged, they want freedom and they want to be treated as adults. Using Tin Can, organisations can leverage the ‘doing’ which is really what compliance is all about, “Ok, you have learnt how it works, what have you done in the business?” This can still be done and can be measured in various ways which doesn’t necessarily mean clicking next in an elearning powerpoint slide, it can be much more. The sooner the corporate training world realises this, the more active and fruitful learning will become in organisations, and the better the outcomes will become to truly change mindsets.


SCORM is currently difficult to use with Mobile devices, now that learners have a computer in their pocket, we need to build learning experiences that works for mobile. Many have the mindset that compliance elearning cannot work on a mobile phone; they are wrong. Many frameworks for developing elearning as known as ‘responsive’ this means the website you log into fits the screen whatever you use to access the page, just like any other website. This means your learner can access learning on whatever they want, whenever they want. It’s this kind of accessible learning that can help break the vicious compliance circle, by offering employees the option to do training on the device of their choice.

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