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The Downside Of Locked eLearning Navigation Explained


Locked Nav Is Hindering Your Learning Experience

Locked eLearning navigation, where learners are unable to progress to the next module or lesson until they have completed the current one, is a common approach in online courses. However, this method may not always be effective and can lead to frustration and disengagement among learners. In this article, we explore the reasons why locked navigation may not work and suggest alternative approaches to keep learners engaged and motivated.

What Is Locked eLearning Navigation?

Locked eLearning navigation is a method of course design where learners are unable to progress to the next module or lesson until they have completed the current one. This approach is often used to ensure that learners have mastered the content before moving on to more advanced topics. However, it can also be frustrating for learners who feel that they are being held back or who want to move at their own pace. Additionally, locked navigation can lead to disengagement and decreased motivation among learners.

The Downsides Of Locked eLearning Navigation

While locked eLearning navigation may seem like a good way to ensure that learners are mastering the content, it can actually have several downsides. For one, it can be frustrating for learners who feel like they are being held back or who want to move at their own pace. Additionally, it can lead to disengagement and decreased motivation among learners, which can ultimately impact their ability to learn and retain information. Finally, it may not be the best approach for all learners, as some may prefer a more flexible approach that allows them to move through the material at their own pace. Here are just a few of the downsides of locked eLearning navigation:

1. User Frustration

Locked navigation can lead to user frustration because it takes away the freedom to explore and learn at their own pace. This frustration can be detrimental to the learning process and can discourage users from completing the course.

2. Limited Interactivity

Locked navigation can limit the interactivity of the course by forcing users to follow a predetermined path. This limits their ability to interact with the content in a way that is best suited for their learning style, which can hinder their understanding and retention of the material.

3. Lack Of Customization

Locked navigation can limit the ability of the user to customize their learning experience. For example, they may want to skip certain sections or revisit a particular module, but they are unable to do so because of the locked navigation.

4. Difficulty In Troubleshooting

Locked navigation can make it difficult to troubleshoot problems that arise during the course. For example, if a user encounters a technical issue, they may not be able to navigate to a different section of the course to troubleshoot the problem.

5. Decreased Efficiency

Locked navigation can decrease the efficiency of the learning process because it can prevent users from quickly accessing the content they need. This can be particularly problematic if users need to revisit certain modules or sections to reinforce their understanding of the material.

Alternative Approaches To eLearning Navigation

If locked eLearning navigation isn’t the best approach for your learners, there are alternative approaches you can consider. One option is to use a branching scenario, where learners are presented with different paths based on their responses to questions or tasks. This allows for a more personalized learning experience and can increase engagement and motivation. Another option is to use a nonlinear navigation approach, where learners can choose which topics or modules they want to explore first. This can give learners more control over their learning experience and allow them to focus on areas where they need the most help. Ultimately, the key is to find an approach that works best for your learners and their specific needs.

The Importance Of Learner Autonomy And Engagement

Locked eLearning navigation can hinder learner autonomy and engagement. When learners are forced to follow a predetermined path, they may feel disengaged and uninterested in the content. Additionally, learners may feel frustrated if they already have knowledge in a certain area and are forced to go through it again. Allowing learners to have more control over their learning experience can increase their motivation and engagement, leading to better retention of information.

Best Practices For Designing Effective eLearning Navigation

When designing eLearning navigation, it’s important to prioritize learner autonomy and engagement. One approach is to offer both linear and nonlinear navigation options, allowing learners to choose their own path through the content. Another approach is to use adaptive learning technology, which can personalize the learning experience based on the learner’s knowledge and skill level. Ultimately, the goal should be to create a learning experience that is engaging, effective, and tailored to the needs of each individual learner [1].


In conclusion, while locked navigation may seem like a useful feature for eLearning, it can actually hinder the learning process by limiting interactivity, customization, and efficiency, causing user frustration and making troubleshooting difficult. To create a more effective eLearning experience, Instructional Designers should consider offering learners more freedom and control over their learning experience, such as the ability to navigate through the course at their own pace, revisit sections as needed, and skip ahead to areas of interest. By doing so, learners can fully engage with the course material and achieve better learning outcomes.


[1] What is Learning Experience Design?

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