Creating Value in e-Learning Part 5:The Symptom

This is a guest blog post from Peter Sorenson, President of QUIZZICLE. Please see below for full bio.

When we visit a doctor because we are not feeling well, he or she begins by questioning us about our symptoms. Why? Because a sniffle, a headache or a sore throat are merely indicators that something is wrong – not the root cause of the illness itself.

As an e-Learning advocate, I have railed against rapid development as an anathema in the field of online training. I have spent too much time making the argument with colleagues in print, in person and online that something that begins with “PowerPoint” cannot be run through a conversion engine and magically transformed into e-Learning.

It wasn’t until I recently realized that, like a cough or sneeze, rapid development is merely a symptom of an unhealthy e-Learning industry and not the illness itself. I began to look for the root cause of the e-Learning’s current state of health.

In my previous four blog posts, I have discussed various aspects of what e-Learning lacks by comparing online computer-based training to the classroom experience. It was during this journey that I came to identify the underlying issue generally impacting e-Learning.

We continue to compare the efforts, concepts and products of our industry to a training ideal that is rooted in the past – in one teacher, a piece of chalk and a blackboard. It is not that some of the tenets and strategies of this established and familiar training approach are ill-conceived, but that a web-based solution should yield far better results and provide a far richer experience due to the technologies and support systems currently available.

Pass/fail captured by an LMS shouldn’t be the lone evaluative measure of teaching success.

Web technologies today can suggest sites to visit, or music to consider, based on our past selections. Commercial behaviors are tracked by our transaction history. Web searches are assisted and completed in real-time based on words we enter into a browser search field. Our location is requested and tracked through geo-location technologies to allow our movements to be plotted and our friends to find us. Smart phones provide instant access to language translation and object identification. Text message strings are populated based on syntax algorithms. Experts all over the world offer assistance to solve problems posted by motivated learners or those in need of a knowledge-based or experience-based solution.

The e-Learning industry does not need to replicate the support systems and instructional methods of the classroom. We need to build a better teacher who is constructed on available technologies and open to predicted possibilities.

However, construction does not define success.  We need to commit to resources that prove effectiveness, as well as demonstrate the return on investment to the industries that purchase and employ our development applications and technologies. If our industry does not advocate for itself by supporting research that evaluates the effectiveness of courses built using our concepts, tools and constructs then we leave ourselves open and vulnerable to evaluation by others less qualified.

We must also demonstrate that the return on investment is directly related to the size of the investment itself. Inexpensive training solutions return simple results, such as checkmarks in an LMS. They will not provide rich intelligence available by evaluating and analyzing captured training experiences and statistical data with the potential to influence business decisions and reveal individual competencies and challenges.

We need to consider e-Learning as a greater paradigm not only offering rich possibilities of learning to the individual but providing an opportunity to learn more about what motivates and interests the student.

A recent response to my earlier blog postings noted that I am making some very valid points but offering no real solutions. Stay tuned for the next blog.

 

View other blogs in this series:

Creating Value in e-Learning Part 4: Personalization

Creating Value in e-Learning Part 3: Isolation

Creating Value in e-Learning Part 2: Blindfolded Design

Creating Value in e-Learning Part 1: The Problem

Peter Sorenson Bio Image

Peter Sorenson


Peter Sorenson is the President of QUIZZICLE, a custom elearning development company located in Connecticut. He has worked as a multimedia designer, elearning designer and developer, and programmer since 1992. In addition to his primary job he continues to focus on replicating the classroom experience with all of its inherent learning support systems within the web-based training environment. He has presented at the Lectora User Conference for the past two years and has been an avid user and promoter of Lectora Publisher since 2004.