October 17, 2016

My eyes automatically roll whenever I read a new ad placed by one of the many e-Learning authoring system providers.

“You can do it!”  “It’s easy!”  “Anyone can build an e-Learning course!”

Oh, yeah?

The evolution of new learning technology adaptation has always been delayed by the do-it-yourselfers.  I first saw it with the introduction of videotape training in the 1970s.  “Just give any employee a camera and he, too, can create a meaningful training experience.”

Wrong !!!

In the 1980s, the same misguided conclusions were reached when the CBT and CD-ROM technologies first appeared.  Only Interactive Laser Videodisc (IVD) training skipped the intrusion of the well-intentioned crowd of do-it-yourselfers.  And, that is only because too much hardware was required.  (Is it just coincidence that the best computer-based training programs ever created came during that short history of IVD?)

Today, with the advent of e-Learning, there are a plethora of exaggerated claims regarding authoring software technology.  Authoring software providers would like us to believe that their do-it-yourself authoring systems are the magic wands necessary to improved information flow, training, and education.

They may be right about better information flow.  The newer digital technologies are certainly a boon to information storage and retrieval.

To give them their due, authoring systems can, also, certainly succeed in helping you design information-transferral programs.

But, they cannot, by themselves, contribute much to learning and retention.  To do that, they must be in the hands of an experienced educator or a knowledgeable instructional designer who understands the principles behind effective learning.

Take your choice.  Teaching is either an art or a highly developed skill.  Few people can teach well.  And, since it follows that few people can create effective instruction, few multi-sensory media programs will ever teach well.

The presumption that just anyone can design an effective training or education program is not only flawed — it is dangerous.

And, particularly so when the many useless PowerPoint or written procedure conversions become the end product.  E-Learning they are not — and, will never be.

Few of us are professionally successful inventors, mathematicians, chefs, athletes, writers, etc.  Does it not stand to reason that few can be creators of sound technology-based instruction — creators of programs that can actually teach so that users can actually learn?

It’s going to take a longer time than it should to bring e-Learning courseware into the “effective learning club.”  Current e-Learning examples fall far short of the standards set by IVD and CD-ROM.

And, when I hear the President of a generic courseware supplier say in a public forum:  “Forget instructional design.  That’s all based on obvious formulae anyway.  Our authoring system will allow anyone to create learning,” then I know e-Learning is currently in the hands of the charlatans.

And that is why the “do-it-yourself” purveyors will fail.

We should all applaud when they do.  For then we can all move forward working hard to, once again, realize the promise of technology-provided learning.

More on Wednesday –  –  –

   — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning

  www.itclearning.com/blog/  (Mondays & Wednesdays)

 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner, jhbillwalton@gmail.com, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)