Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Break Out of the Box

I wish I had a nickel for every time a client told me "we can't do that" when we suggest that they connect their learners in online discussion groups, or introduce audio elements to increase engagement, or add interactive Flash exercises to better explain complex processes. Usually, the reason they say that they cannot do these things is because of the limitations of the authoring software or learning management system that they happen to use. They feel they are "boxed in" by the technology choices they have made previously.

It does not have to be this way. Sometimes the boxes in which we find ourselves are more real than imagined (kind of like the boxes that mimes indicate with hand gestures).

You can break out of your technology boxes with a little creative thinking. Some strategies that immediately come to mind include:
  • Mixing and matching differing learning technologies that have different strengths to achieve desired results (e.g. seamlessly linking to discussion board software from a learning system that does not have this functionality)
  • Work-arounds to enhance the functionality of existing learning technology (e.g. using existing telephone bridges for audio when teaching with web conferencing technology)
  • Introduction of easy-to-use Web 2.0 tools (e.g. Blogs and Wikis) to provide missing communication elements
  • Doing away with ridiculous and over-zealous IT policies that do not allow for any flexibility concerning the introduction of new technologies in aid of learning (or having these hosted externally)
The focus is on making technology the slave to learning, not its master.

Of course it makes it much easier to do this when your IT folks are on side. You must have a culture wherein your IT support people are enablers and not blockers. Unfortunately, too often they are blockers, coming up with 10 reasons why something cannot be done, rather than finding a way to make things work. A really good IT department finds ways to help you get to where you want to be with your eLearning.

We will explore these themes in some detail in our October 5th webinar titled: Don't Box Me In!: Overcoming the Constraints of Technology to Achieve Your eLearning Goals. Be sure to check it out.


Blogger Tony Karrer said...

Rick, did you mean to post a link to your webinar?

12:21 PM  
Blogger Rick Nigol said...

Hi Tony...I will, as soon as the registration page is set up on our website.



12:32 PM  
Blogger Geeta Bose said...

Rightly said Rick. Today, most of our clients and vendors are so bogged down by technology that "learning" seems last on the priority list.

Most of the decisions in eLearning courseware are made with a focus on technology, which does not harbor well for eLearning. I had blogged about this in "Can Technology Companies Deliver eLearning?"


1:44 AM  
Blogger Rick Nigol said...

Hi Geeta:

Read your posting. I really like the line about "dumb blonde courseware." I have seen a lot of that in my time!



9:15 AM  

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