Thursday, October 05, 2006

Set Your eLearning Free

We ran another in our continuing series of webinars on Thursday. I think we struck a chord out there, as 43 individuals from across North America, and as far away as South Africa, logged in and participated in an event centred on creative ways to break free of various technological constraints when designing and delivering eLearning. The title - Don't Box Me In! - summed up the theme of the webinar.

In relating their own experiences in eLearning, various participants lamented limited functionality in the technology they are using, lack of interaction it affords, differing technologies not able to "talk" to each other, lack of proper user tracking, and limited IT support for learning technologies. These are familiar refrains that hear from clients every day. Our response, and the one we delivered today, is as follows:

1. There is No "One" Way to do eLearning.

The possibilities are virtually limitless. A learning management system (LMS) is not always necessary. Vendors will have you believing that an LMS is the be all and end all. There are so many creative things that can be done without an LMS by mixing and matching various technologies (e.g. Flash modules / discussion board software / back-end recording keeping database) that can deliver your required functionality without a huge up-front investment required in a packaged system.

2. Technology Choices Abound

We are living in an age of abundance in terms of the range of easy-to-use technologies that we can deploy in the service of eLearning. There is a plethora of choice, from open source courseware, to free Web 2.0 social networking software (blogs and wikis), to open source downloadable plug-and-play widgets. It doesn't have to be a one system, one-size-fits-all approach. You can take a flexible approach and grow as you learn. Some day you may require an LMS, but if you are starting small and experimenting, keep it simple.

3. Get IT Folks on Side

The IT people can make your life a joy or complete hell, depending on the extent to which they help or hinder you in reaching your goals for your eLearning. If possible, get your own IT person or team right in the training / learning function. That way, they work for you and are less likely to be obstructionist. This is especially true in very large organizations, where the IT function is quite often uniform and rigid.

4. Technology Should Not be Your Starting Point

Our mantra hasn't changed over many years. Strategy should drive technology, not the other way around. Too many organizations think the first thing they have to do when starting eLearning is to buy a "system." Wrong. The first thing you should do is determine why you want to do eLearning, what results will define success, and the particular situation of your organization and the nature of the learners you will be reaching. Then, and only then, should you start thinking about the types of technology that will help get you there.

For those who missed the webinar, here is a link to the recording.


Post a Comment

<< Home