In a speech delivered at ASTD’s 1999 Interactive Multimedia Conference, I described some of the negative fallout that has accompanied the emerging digital networking technologies. I cautioned that,

“Today’s learner, all too often, is being left out in the cold. Talking about technology from the learner’s point of view, rather than the digital, seems to be an antiquated discussion packaged away with a box of yesterday’s videodiscs.”

What I was discussing was the switch from effective analog instructional design to digital networking delivery of instruction, which was (and, continues to be, in most process/manufacturing facilities) restricted by the pipeline limitations of the current networking technologies. In the process, both good instructional design and effective learning have been suffering.

“Unfortunately, vendors continue to hawk their own particular one-dimensional solutions – regardless of the customer’s increasingly sophisticated education/training challenges. The potential learner is in danger of getting lost in this early age of digital networking,”

I warned.

One size no longer ‘fits all’ – stand-up instruction, videotapes, distance learning, books, desktop delivery of networked computer-based instruction, and multi-sensory e-Learning all have a place in business, education and government today.

We must support education and training professionals in dealing with the increasingly complicated challenges effecting learning today. The challenges facing trainers and educators outstrip the time-demands necessary to stay current.

Historically, an organization has focused certain time and money on educating/training when either some process or function within the organization has gone awry or an edict-to-train has come down from high up in the organizational structure. It is at this point that the trainer or educator has had to focus on the “who-to-be-trained” and the “what-to-use” components. Far too often today, the “who” is overlooked because of the rush to adapt the learner to the new networking technologies (the “what-to-use”).

Too bad! For isn’t having well educated/trained students and personnel going to ultimately be more valuable to those individuals – and, give more of an ROI to the organization in the long-term? Why have so many of us forgotten the fundamentals of effective learning? How can we assume that learning takes place just because instruction and learning materials are made available?

We’d better get back to the basics!

More tomorrow – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder of ITC Learning