Whatever training periodicals you read today (either online or in print), all signs appear to point to E-Learning as the training medium of choice. But have you taken the time to thoroughly examine the positives and negatives of E-Learning, as it is practiced today.

It seems that the more you learn about E-Learning, the less simple it becomes.

Sure, it’s available 24×7 from almost anywhere. And, it’s extremely cost effective.

But, just what is it?

The hype says that it’s adaptations of PowerPoint presentations and/or adaptations of written procedures. (But, as we all know by now, none of these claims are true. While those adaptations can successfully play within an E-Learning environment — they teach next to nothing and are, therefore, counterfeit and a waste of good money.)

Why? Because the learning environment that is most comfortable for the majority of our workers has its roots in one of three things: television (full motion video), gaming and simulations. The printed page (either read online or in hard copy form) is no longer the primary learning culture of our workforce.

You’ve also read about some courses that are specifically designed for E-Learning, using the best in E-Learning instructional design. And, it is these specifically designed E-Learning courses that actually teach — because they are rooted in multisensory learning techniques.

Teachers have understood the value of multisensory learning for centuries. You’ve probably heard the rule of thumb about retention and methodology — that reading alone yields 10% comprehension, adding hearing yields 20%, adding visuals yields 30% and so on. While a classroom teacher has to put on quite a show to provide multisensory learning, interactive E-Learning programs have the potential to challenge learners with a variety of stimuli for each task.

Take industrial skills training, as an example. We all know that applied technical competency is the basis for increasing productivity and quality, while minimizing downtime and rework.

Whether one is teaching “AC/DC Motor Theory & Maintenance,” “Ammeters & Meggers,” “Bearings,” “Centrifugal Pump Repair,” “Conduit Installation,” “Print Reading,” “Hand Tools,” “Electrical Theory,” “Valve Repair,” “Hydraulics,” “Lubrication,” “Limit Switches,” “Mechanical Seals,” “Multimeters,” “Oscilloscopes,” “Precision Measuring Instruments,” or “Troubleshooting Skills,” improved technical competence is the desired end result.

Knowledgeably designed E-Learning (learning that incorporates workplace situations and terminology) provides an atmosphere of practicality for the employee. Consequently, employees will understand the course material faster and retain more, allowing them to apply more of their newly acquired skills.

And, that’s what we all want from any good training program! Better learning and greater retention!

Quality E-Learning courses are capable of delivering both. Your task is to ferret out the effective from the preponderance of the bad (repurposed PowerPoints and written procedures). Only then will we achieve the promise of this emerging technology.

More on Thursday – – – – –

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