"Locked" Courses with VO OR Captions

Hi all,

I am wondering if anyone has any tactics that make sense for courses where the navigation is intended to be locked, but there is the choice of listening to voice over or reading captions.

If locking is the strategy we go with I am finding it hard to find a way to gauge slide completion if the person is choosing to read captions instead of listen to audio. For example, usually I would set the next button to active after the audio has finished, but someone who is reading the text instead might finish finish faster and still have to wait. That's not very friendly.

I know there are issues about locking/unlocking courses to begin with, and that ideally someone would be motivated to take the course all the way through or simply tested at the end for credit. But it's reality that many of our SMEs request this regardless of whether they can pass an assessment at the end. They want to ensure exposure to the content itself.

To that I feel like saying that you can't have your cake (locked navigation) and eat it too (simultaneously allowing someone to read on their own), but I was just curious to see if anyone has any other approaches, or if it's really something where we just need to say "Pick A style or pick B style".

3 Replies
Bruce Graham


Firstly - please can you explain their reasons for wanting to lock the course?

Are the SMEs the ones in your organisation who are requesting this? If so - then you have the option (?) to say no, or do the SMEs run your training department?

In many cases a request for locking is fear - fear that they do not want people to miss anything important. Problem is - it is important to the SME, not the learner, so it does not matter what you do, the learner will not be interested.

Exposure does not guarantee learning. If they just want exposure - save yourself a lot of time and money and send everyone a .pdf.

That is pretty much my "start point" on discussions around this subject, both on forums and in face-to-face meetings.

If they want learning - find out what is relevant to the learner, perhaps "grade" it as must have --> nice to have --> optional, and present non-locked, business-relevant material in that way, in a way that allows learners to practice real-life application of he new knowledge in the course, understanding why it matters in the real-world.

A major part of our role is to explain to SMEs that actually, we are the SMEs when it comes to HOW people should learn, and theirs is providing the material, (usually too much of it!)

Hope that helps rather than hinders - once you start the discussion the answer to your question will become clearer.



Minh-Triet Nguyen

Echoing Bruce's comments about trying to dissuade your stakeholders from locking the course down.  But sometimes you can't. We're in a similar situation with some regulatory training that has a minimum time spent in training requirement. Locking slides to voice-over narration is technical way of ensuring that, but you'll want some strategies to keep the learner engaged.

1.  Change the perception of what the training is.  Maybe frame it as an interactive version of a live presentation.  A learner might have different expectations of a "spray-and-pray" presentation compared to a training session.  

2. Explain that the slide's progress bar runs the duration of the narration, which gives the learner a queue on how long a particular slide will last.

3. Encourage breaks.  If your course (like ours) has to last a minimum two hours, definitely tell learners at each that it's okay to take a break and come back.  

4. Praise them for sticking it out.  If you can include their actual time spent (maybe fetched from the LMS) in the course at certain points to acknowledge their attentiveness.

Hope that helps,

Chantelle N

Hi Bruce and Minh,

Sorry for the delayed reply. I did read both of your comments as they came into my inbox .

@Bruce - I completely agree with everything you've said and I have fought that battle many times. Unfortunately, our SMEs pretty much do run our training department. I am in a services organization so our training group in terms of training "professionals" is quite small and everything comes down to time and money, so while we are working to infiltrate the space with best practices such as those you have mentioned, we are not there yet and many of the stakeholders that we need to make happy request these types of things. I don't have the clout to tell them I am a learning "professional" that knows the "how" better than them when I am half their age and pay grade.

@Minh, thanks for some of those insights as to how to ease the burn, so to speak. Our courses aren't quite as long, but I do like the idea of trying to position the e-learning differently than as, well, e-learning. We sort of did this once with a sales presentation on how to sell better. It started as e-learning but ended up being more like an inspirational video that we just let run through (it was fairly short).

Anyway, I know this isn't a new battle for anyone and we all encounter situations at one time or another where the training in an organization is not based off of training best practices at all, whether it be for time, resource or political reasons.

Thanks for all of your input!