Sunday, December 04, 2005

It’s the People, Stupid

In just about every presentation I do about eLearning, I include the following statement:

“Human beings - and the knowledge, skills and experience that they bring to an eLearning project - are the ultimate determinants of success.”

This may not sound blindingly obvious. But in my daily interactions with those in the training and development field, I don’t think many are living by this credo. Why? Because there exists an unhealthy obsession with technology when it comes to eLearning.

I have seen otherwise intelligent people paralyzed with indecision because they are wrestling with choices about: which LMS to purchase, do they need an LCMS, interoperability with existing systems, eLearning standards, security, etc. They start to focus on these issues and lose site of the real goal: how can they use eLearning to leverage learning throughout the organization that is targeted at helping the organization realize its strategic goals?

To be fair, there are many complex technical choices that have to be made around eLearning. However, these should not be the starting point, or these tools can become seen as ends in themselves, and not merely a means to help reach real goals (individual and organizational improvement).

By all means, enlist the help of technical expertise internally or externally to help you navigate the technical minefield, but do not let them drive the process. They may understand technology, but chances are they know nothing about how people learn, or how to set up eLearning programs that can be transformative. Keep your eyes on the prize by having organizational -- and not technical --imperatives driving the process.

When I tell people that I am in the eLearning field, many assume that I am a technical expert (perhaps a programmer), or that I sell some sort of software. Nothing could be further from the truth. I know just enough about technology to make intelligent judgments about which technologies will help me in which situations to reach my objectives for an eLearning project. Being a non-technical expert helps me keep the important end goals in perspective.

In a field dominated by providers of technology, we at eLearn Campus have deliberately carved out our niche in the human capacity building business. Our whole focus is on helping develop competencies to better plan, design, develop, implement, manage and evaluate eLearning. Otherwise, we will just end up with a lot of tools, but no skilled crafts people who know how to use them to create wonderful and effective learning environments.