What's your perception of eLearning right now?

I would imagine the majority of the population when asked this question would cringe and think back to that moment when they first experienced eLearning.  I remember it well. Half asleep, listening to the most boring narration of a million words on the screen.  The most exciting part was the "click next to continue" phrase, exciting only because it meant I was one step closer to the finish line and the pain would soon be over.  At least in 473 pages time! (I love exaggerating sometimes!)

Then the end of course test came along, and by process of elimination often with some rubbish multiple choice questions with some obviously incorrect answers I would fudge my way through to a pass mark. Maybe I learned some things along the way. How much content slipped past me however I have no idea.

Sound familiar?

The reason I got into eLearning is I despised it so much!

Yep that's right.  Despite my slightly geeky nature and love of technology that's exactly the reason I got into eLearning. I just hated it so much. It's probably because whilst I love technology, I also love people too. That's where the issue was. On one side of the scale you have technology and on the other you have people. The scales can't tip too much towards technology at the cost of dis-engaging people; that's not right by the standards of any sane L&D professional I feel. But historically, that's what eLearning has done. All we have had across every industry has been mind-numbingly boring and disengaging eLearning. I figured all those years ago there had to be some better, more engaging ways of delivering eLearning. After all, we can't really ignore the COST, TIME, CONSISTENCY benefits that eLearning brings about. There had to be a better way... L&D professionals working in collaboration with the clever technical developers had to be the way forward.

Ten Years Later...

That was almost ten years ago now and my view hasn't changed.  Actually, neither has most eLearning. It's seems to be slowly creeping in the right direction, but not at a pace that is quick enough to keep up.  Ok, learning from a computer is never going to be as engaging as learning face to face, I get that.  But if we're seriously going to continue using eLearning, particularly for future generations, the production of it needs to be so much better than it has been and on a whole different level.  Better visuals, better sound and much better interaction.  

If you can see it on TV that's the standard of video production eLearning producers should be aiming for.  If you can hear it on the radio that's the standard of audio production that eLearning should contain. If you can play it on a games console that's the standard of interaction eLearning producers strive to reach. All of these elements working together to deliver a modern, stunning, relevant and cutting edge experience for our much more demanding generation of learners.

And at the heart of this production and at every stage of every course development should be an L&D professional who guides the entire production on the learning aspect and learner experience. 

The future of eLearning now?

Over the past couple of years, I've been fortunate enough to direct the production of several eLearning packages. I've worked with professional broadcasters to raise the bar on audio production. I've worked with video directors and animators to raise the production of visuals. I've worked with creative designers to raise the bar on interactivity. It's been about finding the right expertise and learning from the best and I'll continue to do so.

It's all been really interesting and I've been pleased with the output of each course. But keeping my critical eyes and ears open, there's always one question we ask. How can we make this better next time? How can we make the next course the best ever? And that is what keeps the bar moving higher and higher.

Most eLearning producers are still very old school. Most are playing catchup up. I'm just lucky enough to be working with the best. And when you do work with the best, the future of eLearning really is now....

Click here and watch this video - It's a short introduction to a course, but when you consider this is the style that features throughout, you'll see exactly what I mean.

Let me know what questions you have.....

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Ady Howes - Community Manager, DPG

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  • Thanks Mike.  Totally agree.  I can think of several instances where eLearning courses have been requested and even before the storyboarding stage starts, it's been a no from me!  Some topics just aren't suitable....

    ...or should I say, some learning outcomes just aren't suitable....

    What we tend to do in the face to face environment is have a list of outcomes we'd like to achieve, then begin to design ways to meet those outcomes.  Outcome 1 can be met with a short presentation, perhaps outcome 2 can be best met by having a group brainstorming exercise and discussion and outcome 3 can be best met with some practice of the topic being learned.

    So perhaps a truly blended approach is, let's get outcome 1 met by delivering some content online and perhaps plant the seed and make a start on outcome 2.  Then when we're face to face, we can do some more of outcome 2 and get outcome 3 sorted too.

    For me a truly blended approach is seeing online delivery as just another tool in our toolkit, rather than a total replacement that can only exist on it's own in isolation.

    What do you think?

  • Great post Ady and I've been responsible for creating some pretty awful eLearning myself.

    I take all your points and agree with them but still believe that great production values and high quality visuals are all irrelevant if:

    The content or learning outcomes are not suitable for eLearning

    This means it must be relevant and have context and it MUST be true to life and where possible scenario based and have some practical interactions and application.

    I can see gaming mechanics feature much more in eLearning, more immersive environments & scenarios and as you say with more technological advancements we will see more engagement and interaction with elearning. Who knows we may even change people's perceptions.

    However if we still churn out the click next click next click next type of eLearning then I fear we'll never truly move away from the eLearning? "groooooaaaan" mindset.

    Keep up the great work and keep raising that bar.....Genting are lucky to have you pushing the boundaries


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