Knowing what works – and what doesn’t

Training Challenge Number Six: “The failure to recognize e-learning that truly works”

Corporate trainers should run – not just walk – away as fast as they can when they encounter adapted PowerPoint presentations, adapted written procedures, converted CD-ROMs and converted videos posing as e-learning. When someone tells you that these things actually teach in an e-learning environment, just ask them if they’d like to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.

At best, what those examples are is e-information and, at worst, an anathema to today’s learning culture and the necessary skills acquisition you are trying to achieve with your training initiatives.

PowerPoint presentations and adapted written procedures require a reading-for-understanding receptor which, as we know, eliminates more than 40% of our workforce. Interactive CD-ROMs and videos, while effective training media in their own right, are totally different media and cannot be effectively converted to an instructionally sound e-learning environment – a wholly distinct communication form.

As we know, all good training media must have:
1) Content Accuracy
2) A Real-time Environment

And, to help you recognize true e-learning that is actually capable of effective teaching, you should also look specifically for:
1) Optional Word-for-Word Audio Capability
2) User-designed Interface for Navigation-ease
3) Meaningful and Individually Interactive Instruction
4) Short Modular Lessons
5) Efficient Sentence Use per Screen
6) Subject-appropriate Instructional Design
7) Capability to Double as a “Help Desk”

In the future, as more and more facilities allow, compressed video will play a big role, as well. Today, many facilities are not wired for moving the file requirements of full motion video, and organizational management often does not want their networks clogged with the space requirements necessary for moving video. But that day will come.

Besides, well designed CD-ROMs can now be digitized and effectively networked over a LAN, which in many important ways is an equal solution to the current state of E-Learning. You’ve actually got two excellent choices available – each, presently, with its own limitations.

In the next several days, we’ll be examining each of the ideal e-learning characteristics itemized above. And, these characteristics are where “the rubber meets the road” as you sift through the choices available.

But please remember, it’s just as important to know what to avoid as it is to know what really works.

– Bill Walton, Founder of ITC Learning