by Michael Allen, chairman & CEO
Given decades of informative research on instructional paradigms, human learning, and performance measurement, it seems the burgeoning e-learning industry would have achieved enormous success in bringing each learner to a state of performance mastery economically and as quickly as possible. Instead, however, it seems the industry continually degrades its offerings—relying on technology for learner engagement and focusing more on content presentation than on learner needs and performance improvement.
In disappointment and frustration and as an attempt to disrupt the current, discouraging trends that have diminished prospects of beneficial impact, the Serious eLearning Manifesto has been put forth to bring attention to the foundations of effective e-learning. In this blog, I’d like to review the eight values and characteristics of Serious eLearning. Although each topic is worthy of a focused treatise, let’s step through the comparison briefly.
1. Content vs. performance focus.
Perhaps most detrimental to achieving both individual and organizational goals is drowning learners in quickly forgotten content presentations. Typical e-learning does exactly that. Subject matters experts and designers concentrate on presenting exhaustive volumes of information. With development time and resources constrained, learning activities that lead to skill development are given short shrift. This approach leads to minimal outcomes. A better alternative is to narrow content scope and provide carefully selected and sequenced situational practice based on identified, high value performance skills.
2. Authoring efficiency vs. meaningful learning.
Because positive impact is so often assumed and not measured, project managers respond to what is measured; and that’s usually production cost and speed. In a truly odd and iron twist of logic, authoring time has become treated as a more precious commodity than learning time. Yet, a few more authoring hours can result in many less training hours and significantly lowered training costs. In any case, the focus needs to be on providing learning experiences that are meaningful and helpful to each learner; that is, we need to produce effective learning. If it takes more authoring time to do that, it remains a wise investment rather than wasting huge volumes of expensive learner time.
3. Driving attendance vs. attracting learners.
With inefficient and boring e-learning, organizations must often mandate learners wade through their e-learning. The assumption is that if people attend, the goal has been achieved. If they can, learners will obviously opt out of boring experiences, often preferring instead to interrupt another person to get direction—direction that may need to be offered hastily and may be far from the best advice. In serious e-learning, designers work to engage learners who may, because they benefitted so much, become promoters of the training and encourage their peers to give it a try.Read More