Tag Archives: eLearning

The price of perfection

I recently read this excellent post by Clark Quinn (@Quinnovator) despairing about the continued dire examples of eLearning continually being created. Sometimes I wonder whether eLearning designers take their profession seriously enough to continually research, read and improve. It isn’t particularly hard to keep up with best practice especially given the ease with which we can now collaborate, share and network with peers and experts in the field. With the likes of Cathy Moore, Connie Malamad, Ruth Clark, Tom Khulman to name only a fraction who feel so strongly about improving the quality of eLearning tutorials that they give advice freely, I certainly share Clark Quinn’s frustrations. I’d like to think I play my own little part in the revolution.

However, I then have to take a step back and climb down from my high horse (mixing my metaphors). When discussing what is good eLearning (referring to the self-paced interactive tutorials) it often becomes very clear that even when people have the knowledge, skills and drive to produce quality their hands are quite tightly tied by time and resource constraints. People gasp with disbelief when I give them an indication of how many hours of development time to hours of learning it can take. Then their gasps turn to nervous laughter when contemplating what their bosses/sponsors would say if they asked for enough time to develop this level of excellence let alone get to grips with their new skills.

So I can equally empathise with Rob Stephen’s comment to Clark Quinn’s post. The problem is, in today’s climate where time and resources are scarce, something’s got to give – all too often that something is quality. So instead, perhaps we should ask ourselves “what’s the alternative” and take a more agile approach to make sure quality is maintained. After all there is more to eLearning than the self-paced (so called) interactive tutorials we often think of when faced with the term.

There is little excuse, however, if such poor examples to which Clark Quinn refers are still being produced. As ‘expert’ instructional designers they should know what good learning involves. Although, there may be various reasons why this might be so. Giving the benefit of the doubt, it may be that the sponsor, knowing little about what great eLearning looks and feels like, insists on info-dumps testing knowledge not application to tick those compliance boxes.

The culprit may be the sponsor’s limited budget and of course more complex the eLearning the longer it will take and therefore will cost more but that doesn’t mean that simple interactions needn’t be performance based, relevant and contextual. In which case the experts in instructional design surely would act as consultants to those with less knowledge in learning design. But it shouldn’t just be laid at their door. We all have a duty to work together, to make sure learning is effective no matter how it’s delivered. Are we willing to pay the price of perfection or will persuit of efficiency be the cost of quality?

E-Learning and the Science of Instruction by Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer: A review

Towards the end of last year I was asked if I’d like to contribute to the online e-learning magazine ‘eLearn Magazine‘ by writing a book review. I was honoured to be asked and eagerly agreed.

I was pleased to find out that the book chosen for me to review was Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer’s third edition of ‘E-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning’ to give it its full title.

Here’s an extract, hot off the press.

Transferring classroom courses to online delivery isn’t as simple as it might initially seem. In our eagerness to meet the needs of the organization, the needs of the learners are often overlooked. Even so, the trend for producing more efficient ways of delivering learning is set to continue. It also means more and more organizations are looking to produce eLearning in house. If this is the case, in order to leverage the benefits of eLearning we’ll need some guidance. And for that we do not have to look further than Clark and Mayer’s E-Learning and the Science of Instruction, now in its third edition.

Read the full article at eLearn Magazine here

Out with old, in with the new

2012Well the first week of a shiny new year has flown by and I thought I’d reflect on my last year’s goals. I didn’t do too badly considering…

My plan to get back into my archery unfortunately didn’t materialise which also meant my plans for a more work/life balance wasn’t quite achieved. However, considering my blogging and professional development are all done in my own time, I’m fairly happy with my achievement. OK’ I didn’t always make my plan of a weekly post but I’ve averaged 3.5 posts a month which isn’t bad.

The last three months of 2011 saw me completely drop off the social media planet. I really can’t put my finger on why. I think I just burnt myself out with the social media scene. My official professional work became more hectic than usual and seeped into my own time (probably a familiar story to others out there) that I found myself abandoning my extra curricular investigations in the world of online learning and learning technologies. My iPhone became a tool for making calls, checking e-mails and taking photos of my beautiful new niece. My iPad started to gather dust on the coffee table. Its only outing a trip to Thailand where it was as invaluable as a Swiss army knife (but that’s another story entirely).I start 2012 with renewed motivation. I’ve made a promise to myself to get back on track and continue with those resolutions I made last year. But in addition I’ve made a promise to myself to make time just for me. After all, as the saying goes, ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. And that’s exactly how I felt when I saw out 2011.

With a new year it’s time for a new and more positive outlook professionally too . What changes would I like to see in the year ahead in my profession? I’d like to see more emphasis on how people really learn and less about counting those bums on seats – virtual or otherwise. I’d like to see more acceptance of social tools for learning and working. I’d like to see more effort being put into what makes effective learning online. I’d like to see more asynchronous learning being the norm. I’d like to see more use of learning and collaborating in live online environments when live discussion is considered valuable. I’d like to see face to face interaction used efficiently and when most appropriate and I’d like to see more Learning and Development professionals grab the virtual bull by the horns and start adding to their skills to ensure learning online is as effective as learning in well designed classroom events. Am I expecting too much? It might be easier than you think.

Here’s to a successful 2012.