Having just completed Training 2011, I'm reminded that it's good to get out of the office.
I love striking up conversations with people who are collected together for the purpose of learning and getting better at what they do!
Sure the travel and long hours can be a drain, but it's fun to see new places (like the San Diego convention center, below) and there's nothing like taking the pulse of our business by connecting with people who live it every day.
So what are participants here saying? I'm not surprised, but for the most part, the same things they've been saying for the past several years. And while I think it's a marketplace that has always moved pretty slowly, it makes me wonder if e-learning is stuck on hold. For instance, this is 2011, and most people I know are still using SCORM 1.2 and not 2004. And while I think that's for good reason, here are some other things that seem less well-justified.
In conversations here at the show, I find many people...
- Are still frustrated with how boring most e-learning is
- Continue to have doubts about how well e-learning is received by boomers or blue collar learners
- Remain driven more by budgets than by ROI, and are attached to rapid e-learning tools because of it
- Believe that immersive learning simulations provide for superior e-learning, but remain overwhelmed when it comes to designing them
So, what can you do with the areas where we seem to be stuck on hold?
Boring e-learning is due largely to linear thinking that leads to linear PowerPoint-like courses. Learners should have control over both their pace and their path in a course. Think of presenting content as a series of topic portals, where the learner can explore and bring more detail to many related issues, without leaving that environment, and without clicking next. Most of use don't naturally think in a linear fashion, so we shouldn't force it with learners.
Boomers and computers cease to be an issue when you do three things: cut out all the extra content and give them content tailored to their success; remember to tell them "so what" and not just "what" so they can see the bigger picture; and, give them a chance to practice what they've learned, so that they can get good at it. Hmmm-m. That's good advice for any age group, isn't it? The point is, give them high-value content, using the computer well, and the other issues melt away.
Budgets are a fact of life, but they aren't the bottom line. The bottom line, literally, is how much you grow revenues or retain as profits. When you successfully tie your e-learning efforts to business results, and you can measure what you do, you can justify bigger budgets. And if think you can't, try harder!
Immersive simulations don't have to be out of reach or overly complicated. They do take time to master, but the key to a good simulation is this: focus on the gray areas of decision making to provide learners with a chance to differentiate between various courses of action and their consequences; give learners a chance to fail, because overcoming failure is truly a learning experience; and, template a pattern of interactions that work for your needs and then build on or alter as needed, saving your time and trouble for the creative parts.
So is your e-learning stuck on hold? I suppose in some way everyone's is. But don't settle for that...break out of your rut!