The rapid development and changes in technology over the last decade has had a resounding impact on the learning industry. Technology, coupled with the explosion of knowledge requirements in the information age, has led to the emergence of new learning modalities such as e-Learning, Simulations and Gaming. With the recent flood of new products in the market, customers are faced with an extensive range of programs that have been developed without assurance of quality methodologies. The challenge for courseware developers is to ensure that courses are of the highest quality and achieve the intended learning outcomes that parallel the results of the best instructor-led training and education today. And, we currently find the major shortcomings in e-Learning development.

Unfortunately, several misconceptions have marked the development of e-Learning thus far. Too many courseware developers have regarded the On-Line medium as a “reading” or page-turning activity. Of course, that resultant instruction leaves behind the nearly 40% of America’s workforce which tests below a fourth grade reading level. In addition, some early e-Learning instruction has been driven by “technocrats” who have failed to recognize the IT infrastructures and delivery capabilities within most of America’s process and manufacturing facilities.

In striving to build a winning On-Line curriculum, many developers have also based their strategies on limiting costs or creating flash while sacrificing the basic learning principles that education/training should incorporate in order to meet the goals of adult learning. Although the Web has been used as a tool for delivering training, unfortunately, the development has been more focused on the “mechanics” of using the Web rather than in effectively applying Web-based technology to achieving the intended learning outcomes.

As we’ve stated many times, technology training is in real need of Instructional Designers who focus on the “who” and “what” to be taught — and, not on the instructional design formulas they learned in graduate schools. Good design-for-learning is not a cookie cutter activity.

More tomorrow – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder of ITC Learning