Serious about e-Learning?
Last week saw the launch of the Serious eLearning Manifesto. Its themes are ones that I’m familiar with having been working at the e-learning coal face for the past 10 years. Its basic premise is that most e-learning is ineffective and rarely improves performance. To take e-learning to a new level we must do more (actually a lot more). This is a valid viewpoint but the manifesto is vague about the ways in which things should be improved on a practical level.
Now part of me agrees wholeheartedly that e-learning is capable of much greater things and with the appropriate vision, budget and skills I believe we should all strive to push e-learning much further but there is a large group of people who are only just getting started with e-learning and for them a simpler (but hopefully still effective) approach is going to be just fine. Horses for courses as they say.
Now I also understand where this e-learning snobbery comes from. A lot of e-learning isn’t brilliant and in my work in getting clients started with e-learning I sometimes come across the dreaded 100 slide page turner, but there are also a lot of people out there getting up to speed with tools like Articulate Storyline and who are exploring what is effective and what is possible as they begin to transition from classroom to online. But not every SCORM module can be a tour de force of deep behavioural performance improvement. Sometimes you just need 10 minutes on getting started with the company timesheet system. Deep learning it may not be but unlike a static web page or PDF file the e-learning option should at the very least give you a starter for 10 (literally).
Some may argue that this isn’t e-learning at all but performance support but for me the application of basic instructional design to a defined learning need effectively moves us into the e-learning space.
Of course e-learning is capable of much more than this and the growing raft of technologies at our disposal opens up innovative new ways to learn online. But doing things at the cutting edge requires more skills, more budget and invariably more risk so not every project will be a candidate for the high-end approach. Indeed one could argue that the manifesto is really describing the wider landscape of online learning rather than e-learning specifically but that’s a subject for another post (see Defining e-Learning in 2013).
I’m serious about the future of e-learning but let’s be pragmatic about its application at all levels of need. Sometimes a five minute Storyline module will be enough – seriously.
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