Understanding the Real e-Learning Driver
by Richard Sites, vice president - client services
After a long week of traveling to client meetings for discussions on building new e-learning courses and revising old ones, I was glad to jump out of bed Saturday morning to head to the golf course. My Saturday morning routine is a nice comfort at the end of a long week filled with too many airplanes, conference rooms and security lines.
I’ve brought up my love of this sport before and the kookiness that often ensues. But this last Saturday morning was about as mundane of an outing as possible. Only a handful of the boys showed up this week. The smaller the group – much like dogs – the less likely there will be loud, boisterous behavior. But that doesn’t mean there were fewer stories about how bad someone’s swing is, or how pathetic their putting has been, or someone’s inability to hit a decent wedge shot. These are ever-present at all golf courses.
Just as customary is the whining about the ineffective parts of one’s golf game is the story about the new club they just bought to help solve this problem. This “buy a good game” mentality is standard protocol for most golfers. If you have ever seen Tin Cup, you’ll appreciate the lengths that a golfer will go through to improve their game.
The biggest problem, however, is that this does nothing to improve the problem – which is the golfer’s swing. It only bandages the problem for a little while. And when the newness of the latest game-improvement club wears off, there will be another trip to the golf store for a new one.
Because this was a rather quiet Saturday morning on the course, I couldn’t help but to let my mind wander a bit. And of course, it wandered back to work and the challenges that clients have with building and revising e-learning courses.
There are myriad reasons to initiate a new e-learning development project, from underperforming employees, to a new system launching, to updating content to match the changes over the past year (or more). There are just as many ways to deliver whatever instructional treatment we design.
But, there is only one real reason for building good instruction and that is helping learners perform better. (Or as we like to say here at Allen – To get the right people to do the right thing at the right time.)
Although it may seem logical to update old e-learning with new graphics and interface, or to build a better assessment at the end of the course, or add some animation to the course design, these are merely new clubs in the bag. What is most important is how we plan to fix our swing!
While I can attest to the improvement that a new driver gives – in terms of distance and accuracy – it is not enough to ensure that the errors of my swing don’t produce a giant slice out of bounds. Only by focusing on the reason why I tend to hit a lot of houses at my course will I be able to improve my performance. I don’t need a new club in the bag; I need good strategies and practice to improve my game.
In the same light, we cannot change e-learning – or build different e-learning – by implementing new graphics or treatments or post assessments, without focusing on the performance we hope to change. We should always strive to produce the best product for our learners, in terms of media, navigation, instructional treatments, etc. But these decisions should always be based on the need to better support the learner’s performance.
More often than not, an hour at the range focusing on your performance will do a whole lot more for your swing than a new driver. Trust me, I own three.