Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Learning and e-learning and technology

Okay, is there a difference between e-learning, learning and the way we use technology to learn? (or who's doing dishes tonight?)

I've heard that e-learning is a misnomer that we should change to e-training; that makes some sense because you wouldn't stand in front of a class or group and suggest that what was going on was learning just because you were there? Perhaps e-training would be more accurate, but that's kind of an argument that we should have had before the phrase got coined. But the point is valid, how much learning goes in to an e-learning package - after all who writes most of them? Someone who knows about the subject (that sure as hell doesn't make you a teacher or trainer; although I've been around long enough to realise plenty of people believe it does)? Someone who knows about technology (not necessarily the subject OR how to deliver it) or someone who knows about online learning (training I guess)? Actually none of those is what you really need is it? You really need someone who knows the material, knows about training, learning and education (yes, they're all different) and about the learning technologies!
Got that sorted, so where do you find this person? The problem is that there really aren't many of these specialists that want to come and work (or are already working) for your organisation so you need to approach the whole e-learning thing in a slightly different way.
So I can't just buy a copy of Articulate or Captivate, throw it at my L&D people and expect good online learning?? Of course you can, you just probably won't get it! In fact it's about as likely as if you pay for off-the-shelf learning and find it's perfectly suited for all your bespoke needs. Of course you can get an e-learning company (not just a generic software house please!) to develop content for you; foolproof right? No, and I'll cover that one in another blog.
If this all sounds doom and gloom (best said with a deep Scottish accent) and you're about to despair and admit defeat, remember that's the main reason that e-learning/training/education has never really taken off quite as well as everyone predicted when it was the next big thing in the 90s.
E-learning is like the mahusive (spell checker says no, but I'm pretty sure that's a real word you know) pile of washing up that you don't want to do. Once yo get into it you wonder what you worried about, or rather if you don't start it now, it gets harder the longer you wait, or at best your 'hands that do dishes can feel soft as your face'!
Anyway the best way ahead with e-learning is actually like going up a mountain for the first time, it's a damn site easier if you have a guide. So here I am, a guide if you will (maybe even a good one if you're lucky). This is the cheap version though, reading my guide notes is not the same as having me (or someone with a background in e-learning, training and education) with you holding your hand/rope.
So we'll end here.. not at the end but at the beginning, from here we'll guide you through what to do, what platforms exist to make the climb easier and where to put your feet on the way up.