A large American Telecom company learned this the hard way. They deployed an eLearning tutorial to train their employees on the use of a new internal collaboration application. This new tool is a file management and sharing system with a virtual social space intended for communication. The intention was to encourage employees to use it, and to maximize its effectiveness. It was a noble eLearning attempt: 64 vignettes with video clips featuring live amateur actors engaging in dialog. Each vignette began with exactly the same introduction (conceivably for the sake of continuity), and scenes were devised to train employees on the various aspects of usage. Well, the audience hated it. Scenes were poorly executed, and the dialog was forced and artificial. Employees were bored, and the attempt at encouraging and training employees to use the tool fell flat.
Large multi-page LMS RFPs (Request For Proposal) and RFIs (Request For Information) flood vendors’ emails. Clients spend countless hours putting together what they feel are cogent, precise specifications to select the best Learning Management System or the best eLearning content developer. Vendors spend countless hours trying to decipher exactly what the client wants and needs. Isn’t there a better way? Too often clients do not properly research the potential vendor base. They submit LMS RFPs to anyone who pops up in a web search for elearning, LMS platforms, online training systems, custom content development, web training, online learning et al. Not all vendors are created equally.
Well, once again this week, I have been reading e-Learning discussion boards and on several the topic is whether e-Learning is “good”, “successful”, “better or worse than classroom”? How long will we continue to have these discussions? Yes, I work for a custom e-Learning content developer who also has one of the best learning management systems (LMS) around. But long before I became involved in the industry of online education platforms and web based training, I was a learner. Still am.
Are they perfect, though? The content is informative and interesting. The presentation is engaging. The subject is well-chosen. It’s… well, they’re almost perfect. What is missing? Your course is a static object. It’s only updated …what, every few weeks? More likely, every few months or once a year? And a user with a question (we all have questions)… where does he go? Maybe he can email you, and you can get an answer. But it’s not an ideal kind of interaction.
Rapid eLearning tools can be rapid (sometimes) but is there any learning? While many of the new eLearning development tools like Articulate and Captivate are effective in the quick conversion of PowerPoint slides into web based SCORM content, their output is usually well… deadly. So, what is rapid eLearning good for? In her book eLearning and the Science of Instruction, Ruth Colvin Clark has a useful model for determining which type of online training is good for which goals. She puts forth the following general goals: