Friday, 21 February 2014

Training isn't enough in Learning Technologies...

You get some funky new Learning Technologies, you get the training that goes with that and bam you’re cooking right?  Unfortunately there’s a general misconception that this is true out there, but it’s often not the case.  For starters most of the training that goes with technologies is system’s training.  There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s what is generally expected after all, but system’s training is only a solution for people who already have the right background and experience - and even then it’s just the start.

To explain the last bit first, if you’ve got an experienced instructional designer (or ID)  who also has an experience in e-learning they can get systems training on a technology like Adobe Captivate and away they go right?  Yes to an extent absolutely true, but remember that pervasive learning stuff?  Learning is something we do all the time and in everything we do and the training course is just the start.  As trainers, educators and learning experts we know this stuff and we’re all familiar with that 70/20/10 type philosophy that actually the largest chunk of learning is done away from the training room - be it on the job or through other informal routes.  Same same for us!  An experienced ID with e-learning experience still needs time to ramp up to full capability just like anybody else working with something new and will learn from several sources beyond just training materials.

That’s the nirvana.  How often do you get your nice new technologies and find you’ve got the perfect person already ready to go?  I’ve been involved in numerous implementations where we’ve had completely the wrong people involved.  Sometimes we’re trying to system’s train people who simply don’t have the technical background, let alone e-learning or this particular system.  In terms of LMS I’ve written previously about the importance of having the right person as your administrator - they receive a lot of technical information and training and if they’re not ‘ready’ for that… well, the training isn’t going to be the answer on its own is it?  For an LMS you need someone with the right type of approach and some technical know-how not to mention at least an understanding of L&D or training coordination; that’s complex enough, but for someone you want to make e-learning content?  

The skill-set for a rapid e-learning designer is often completely underestimated by organisations.  If you truly want to make good e-learning in-house then you firstly want to be looking at someone with ID experience.  If not, you want to start out with some ID training and experience for them to get them to understand what good instructional design is.  From there, you need to recognise that e-learning ID and traditional ID are not exactly the same thing; sure there’s principles that are shared between them, but a good ID doesn’t necessarily translate to an instant e-learning ID.  Even if they did we haven’t got to the actual system yet and the training that goes with that… and then throw in that all of this training does not equate to full-competence, that comes with experience, coaching, support and time walking the walk.

It’s not all doom and gloom, but when you add technology to build capability you have to invest in it beyond the cost of the technology and the simple system’s training that goes with it.  Capability building is a process and you need to respect that and invest in it if you want to really reap the rewards.  In the e-learning and learning technologies world the learning curve can be long even if it isn’t steep.  The good news is that the right people will learn quicker and get more involved.  One simple recommendation for success with your learning technologies is to go for those with great communities and support so that you don’t limit yourself to the 10% end of the learning.

Finally, if you have a good rapid e-learning developer value them or (just like that LMS administrator) someone else will :)