For the past four years, Jimmy Kimmel has asked parents to trick their kids into thinking that they’ve eaten all of their hard-earned Halloween candy—and to film it.

The reactions from kids are both heartbreaking and funny, with responses that range from irate scolding to disappointed tears. Most of the time, the kids are just downright mad. They want their candy—they worked hard for it! “I went to a lot of houses,” one kid says, shaking his head at his Mom.

But when eLearning doesn’t deliver on its promises, it kind of feels the same way. Clients get angry, and learners feel like they’ve just wasted a lot of valuable time.

Swap candy for money, and you’ll turn adults into angry children—fast.

So how can you be sure you’re staying on track with your course objectives and making learners feel like their time was well spent?

Clearly Defined Goals

It seems kind of like a “duh” statement, but seriously—you need to work closely with your client to spell out what the course objectives are. Without them, you’re working blindly and hoping the content works toward some general, gray area goal, like “improving sales skills.

Well-defined course objectives are concise and purpose-driven. Think more along the lines of:

Boost test scores for sales competency quiz by 10%

Reduce required course completion time from 4 hours to 2.5 hours

Get 80% of sales team to score a 90% or better on final exam

These number-based goals paint a very clear, actionable path for you as a designer. Keep pushing until you get these defined by your client.

Mid-Course Assessments

There’s nothing worse than going through an eLearning course and discovering you’re just not “getting it.”

Here’s the thing: You’ll only be able to save your learners who are going astray by testing them during the learning process—when there’s still time for them to go back over certain concepts and material. If they wait to discover this at the end of the course, both the learner and his or her boss are going to be mad at you for creating an ineffective course.

Use short quizzes to help learners pinpoint where they’re at and make it easy for them to revisit the areas they’re struggling with.

Connect Learning Back to Job Functions

Presumably, training in a work environment has the purpose of increasing performance abilities or filling in existing skill gaps. Leaners go into a course expecting that you’re going to help them do one of those things better. Which makes sense, right? Right. But if learners go through your course and can’t see how this is going to benefit them in their jobs, they’ll be doing some serious pouting.

Make sure your scenarios and material employ real-life situations that the learner can connect back to the workplace.

Let Frustrations Vent

There are always going to be some learners who go into the course with bad attitudes, which then negatively impacts their training. But most of the time, it’s not you they’re mad at. Letting learners provide feedback for the course is a way for frustrated learners to vent—just like the kids do in the Jimmy Kimmel experiment.

Sometimes in these venting sessions, you’ll discover interesting things…like the fact that they do hear some messages (think of the little boy who tells his mom, “Well, I guess you’re going to have a bellyache!) that you thought they missed.

Don’t Toy with Your Learners or Clients Like Jimmy Kimmel

While Jimmy Kimmel’s experiment is hilarious with little ones, it’s not so funny when you’re working with clients who pay you to create meaningful courses.

The bottom line: Don’t make promises you can’t deliver on, and don’t make learners feel cheated.