This is how you avoid quitters at your online training

Renate de Jonge

According to American research, there were no fewer than 110 million people in the world who participated in an online training in 2019. The drop out percentage is above 90% worldwide, according to this research. An impressive number. Even though our experience learns that the numbers are more nuanced in the Netherlands and Europe, we will share a practical checklist in this blog for everyone involved in developing online trainings. So your user will finish the online course.

Prevent adjustment problems

The online ‘classroom’ is for many students a new environment. The first challenge is the adjust from offline to online learning. When a learning platform is or seems to be too complicated you risk users quitting. 


It ‘being too complicated’ is often in the heads of the users. One only loves what one knows. Still, you can get this group started. Make sure there are clear instructions, supported by clear visuals. A short introduction course about online learning with a section ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ helps a starting user with cold feet.

Make sure your online training meets the expectations 

A wrong expectation of an online training leads to frustration and drop-outs. A training can be more difficult than expected for example, or too easy. It can be more theoretical than expected or too time-consuming. It’s important to pay much attention to managing your users’ expectations. This can be done by providing as much specific information as possible about the online training. Which topics will be covered? How are the lessons set up? What is the required knowledge? How much time is averagely spend at the training? Describe the aims of the training clearly and which skills the user will gain after completing a module and after completing the whole online training.

Help users with their time management

Time constraints is one of the most occurring reason users quit an online training. Time constraints mostly result from them not being able to manage their time. 


Luckily, you can educate your users on this; using the microlearning time management or by sharing study planners and creating frequent reminders for an assignment. Even a simple ‘nudge’ with the question ‘How are you doing at your online training?’ already helps.

Preventing motivational problems

A lack of motivation cannot always be prevented, but you can do everything in your power to make the online training as interesting as possible. Of course, you first do this by offering content that’s interesting and relevant for your users.


You can ensure that the users get a good image of their gained knowledge and skills during the course. For example, by interim tests or by displaying their progress. It motivates when it’s visible you already completed 70% of the training. 


A varying training also motivates to remain involved. Vary the ways in which you offer the learning content. In one of our earlier blogs you read how you can make a learning hub interactive.

Avoid too much flexiblity  

One of the biggest advantages of online learning is flexibility. Users can go through an online training at their own pace, where and whenever they want. Too much flexibility can however also be a disadvantage.


By setting deadlines for a module and sending reminders when a deadline approaches you prevent that ‘whenever they want’ results in ‘never’.

Obviate lack of mutual contact 

Lack of communication with fellow pupils or a teacher can be difficult for some users. Figures show that being able to share and discuss the content increases the involvement enormously. Users are in that case 16 times more willing to finish the online training. 


People learn the best by observing others and dealing with them. However this will always be more limited online than in a classical situation, you can create sufficient online interaction possibilities; think of Webinars, mutual competitions such as a quiz or forums where users can discuss or work together.

Not too much information at once

Do you recognise the following? You are about to start a big project, but you don’t know where to begin. It only becomes clear and executable when you divide the project in smaller tasks and sub projects. 


This also counts for an online training. By dividing the training in smaller, bite-sized modules, the users will maintain an overview and they are less tempted to quit. The earlier mentioned microlearning is ideal for this.

Ondersteuning en feedback 

Nothing is more frustrating than getting stuck and not knowing how to continue. That’s why you should ensure that your users know where they can find help when they can’t figure something out.


You already obviate many problems with a FAQ and knowledge bank. More ideally, users have access to a teacher to request feedback or ask for help. For example, through e-mail or a chat feature. Users can often also help each other using a discussion forum. 


Conclusion: not every user is involved enough to finish an online training. You can stimulate this in many ways, so the user finishes and is happy with the newly gained knowledge and skills.