As I mentioned several weeks ago, in February at the SALT Conference in Orlando, Adam Kovic and I presented our ideas relating to the topic, “Instructional Designers Have Failed E-Learning.” After our presentation, several attendees asked why our emphasis had focused on full-motion video and optional word-for-word audio as the key ingredients for successful online instruction.

And, they were correct in those observations as long as it is equally recognized that instructional designers must return to the basics of “Skills and Task Analyses” for the core content approach to their designs.

Technology training is, also, 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.

E-Learning has a critical need for Instructional Designers who understand the unique potential of E-Learning.

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 the afore-mentioned 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.

Unfortunately, several misconceptions have marked the development of E-Learning thus far. Too many courseware developers have regarded this online 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 striving to build a winning online 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.

The garbage we see with converted PowerPoint presentations and converted written procedures results in an online experience that turns off almost all trainees (nearly 70% never complete such counterfeit programs).

Yet knowledgeable instructional design is more important than ever. As Adam and I emphasized in Orlando, the full-motion video and optional word-for-word audio tools, so fundamental to Interactive Laser Videodisc and CD-ROM — along with the appropriate Skills and Task Analyses — remain the centerpieces of effective E-Learning design.

More on Tuesday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning