E-Learning has had the unfortunate result of taking the rich history of skills training backward! Learning has suffered just as this nation has entered its biggest need for highly skilled employees! E-Learning has derailed the wonderfully effective continuum of the videotape, interactive laser videodisc and CD-ROM successes.

The buyers of technology training solutions have changed. And, in many instances, that has not been a good thing for learning outcomes.

Up until the last decade most training purchases were made on the individual plant level. Those purchases were typically made by individuals who either had actual plant floor experience or by professional skills trainers.

Recently, driven by E-Learning technology, many of those same purchases are made at the corporate level and, far too often, by individuals who have come out of an HR or technology environment. Few of these corporate buyers have had prior shop floor experience or were ever professional trainers in the industrial skills arena.

Unfortunately for the workers who have to take the training, much of what is purchased today are ex-PowerPoint presentations or ex-written procedures that have been re-purposed for E-Learning delivery. Even worse, the do-it-yourselfers within the corporate training world believe all they have to do is convert their PowerPoint presentations into an E-Learning deliverable. And, as we all should know by now, that type of E-Learning does not teach anyone anything.

Converted PowerPoints violate almost all known instructional design principles. They totally ignore the fact that nearly half of our nation’s workforce does not assimilate information written above a 4th Grade reading level. It is not surprising that, as national statistics prove, 70% of re-purposed PowerPoint and written procedure courses are never completed by the trainees.

It’s past time to get some of the supervisors with plant floor experience and plant training personnel back into the corporate decision process – if only in an advisory role.

Simply put, “A title is not a title.” Just because you create or purchase a course entitled, “Centrifugal Pump Maintenance” does not mean that the course described will actually train anyone in how to perform maintenance on a centrifugal pump. It is simply a title until the innards have been examined by someone who knows the subject, understands instructional design principles, and is aware that video plus optional full audio is the only way to go in today’s learning culture.

A few courseware vendors have actually done nothing more than stock their E-Learning catalogs with re-purposed written procedures and PowerPoint presentations that had been produced years earlier on a customized basis. The fat catalogs they publish are actually listings of nonsense. They’ve called these re-purposed programs E-Learning but that claim could not be further removed from any effective learning process. These vendors are relying on corporate buyers seeing the large number of titles being peddled and, then, making the mistaken assumption that those titles will actually contribute to the learning process.

Other vendors will send their courseware production activities overseas where the courses can be templated and stamped out, one after the other, with no awareness of the design requirements disparate subjects require.

Nope. Won’t work. Just because you want to be a professional baseball player doesn’t mean you can! And, so it is with the creation of effective learning. Just because one wants to doesn’t mean they can!

Let’s bring our subject knowledgeable employees and our training knowledgeable employees back into the corporate buying process. Maybe we can return the focus of E-Learning back to the user and away from this singular focus on technology and away from the misguided efforts of the amateur creators.

More on Thursday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning (Tuesdays & Thursdays)