It seems pretty clear that corporate America has decided to adopt E-Learning as the training medium of choice. The advantages of cost savings, 24/7 availability, and easy conversion of existing information are all winners to the decision makers, charged with profitability responsibilities.

What is lost, however, in this rush to adopt E-Learning, is the long-time emphasis on retention and transferable skills acquisition. And, today those can only be attained through a recognition of two truths:

1) an acceptance of the fact that nearly 40% of the nation’s workforce cannot assimilate written material that goes beyond a 4th Grade reading level.

2) an acceptance of the fact that technology is but a tool and the end user must remain the focus of all learning.

In order to successfully address these truths, we must recognize the current state of technology-based learning — and the first thing we must acknowledge is the amount of garbage being disseminated under the guise of E-Learning. Page-turner programs, Power Point presentations and reconstituted written procedures all do more harm than good. In fact, they almost totally ignore most modern workers and their needs. They lack the winning focus — an emphasis on the users of today and their attendant twenty-first century learning environment.

Our single-minded focus must return and remain on the end users. It cannot be on the technology. If our users learn, we win. If our programming fails to work because of antiquated infrastructure, we lose. If our programs reach out effectively to those many individuals who do not “learn by reading,” we win. If we reach only those individuals who are fluent readers, we lose. Our single-minded focus must be directed toward the many — and, variety of — users we encounter. Only then will the desired increased corporate profitability become the end result — as the training will generate greater retention and better transfer of “classroom-to-shop floor” skills.

Potentially, E-Learning does indeed offer the world the most comprehensive learning tool the world has ever known. If applications producers treat the Internet (both inside and outside the firewall) as a communication tool capable of delivering effective learning — learning, incidentally, which also happens to be multi-sensory (rooted in full motion video and optional word-for-word audio), measurable, and more consistent — then, “The Learner” will win without being sacrificed on the altar of technological whim.

More on Thursday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning