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Locking Navigation in your eLearning module: Is it a good idea?

When developing an eLearning module, you might be thinking about adding some restriction to the navigation of the content, with the purpose of making the learners go through the entirety of the module.

In tools like Articulate Storyline, this can be done in different ways:

  • Locking the next and previous buttons so that the learner can only move when they are unlocked (either by time or an interaction)

  • Setting the navigation to restricted in the course menu, so that slides are unlocked as you go through them, but they are kept unlocked when you revisit them

  • Setting the navigation to completely locked, so that the learners can’t move freely through the content

If you want to get even more strict with the navigation, you can even lock the seek bar, so that learners can’t jump ahead in the timeline.

That is all fine, but is it actually a good idea to do this?

Well, we can look at this from two points of view:

  • Developers: When the programmers are working in developing the course, they, and even the people doing the q/a, will have to go through all the screens multiple times, to make sure everything is working as expected, that nothing is our of place and that any issues that have been found, are fixed. But if the eLearning module navigation is locked, then it becomes a time-consuming task, that will interfere with the quick turn around of things.

  • Learners: Most learners will have to go through the entirety of the course only once, so locked navigation might not be an issue, however, we also need to know if doing so makes sense. There is regulatory training that, in general, is mandatory, so we definitely want to make sure that the learners go through all the content, at least to the best of our abilities. But there is also training that might not be mandatory, and that its purpose is to reinforce learning, or maybe it even is just a compendium of activities that helps the learner refresh their knowledge, so in this case, locking navigation wouldn’t be a must.

Especially for the development, I wouldn’t suggest to lock the navigation until the very last iteration of the eLearning module, that way you can review and easily correct any outstanding issues.


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