Monday, April 9, 2007

Using E-Learning to Train on Software and Web Applications

A colleague in the Boise area recently wrote a post in his blog on using e-learning to save money in corporations - provided it's used the right way.

Dan Bobinski is the owner and president of The Center for Workplace Excellence where he trains and writes on various workplace topics most owners, managers and even employees face on a day to day basis. Dan's post got me thinking about how e-learning is used to training people on software or web applications. Whether they are proprietary or off-the-shelf, really doesn't matter. The fundamental principles Dan discussed in his post hold true. I even offered my two-cents to expand upon what Dan discussed and I believe they support the principles.

Dan's points were as follows:

  1. You have to understand the nature of the work you intend to teach through e-learning.
  2. You have to understand at what level of learning the content resides in. Is it rote memorization (level 1)? Is it understanding and comprehension (level 2)? Is it application (level 3)?
What's important to note here is that level 1 learning tends to produce dull, boring e-learning with little to no interaction. As you increase the levels of learning, provided the content can accommodate it, you open yourself to creating highly interactive content.

Now, here's where my comments support Dan's points:
  1. Adult learners and their preferred style of learning will tend to fall anywhere from a structured, sequential pace to a random, exploratory pace.
  2. The higher levels of learning (level 3) and its content are the ones that tend to support the full range of adult learning styles.
  3. With a younger workforce who was practically raised on the internet entering the business world, they are going to demand their business education to be highly interactive and emulate Web 2.0 features such as blogging, forums, live chats, etc. to hold their attention and motivate them.
I've seen far too much e-learning in my time that has missed the mark. Cost benefits to providing e-learning as a support tool along with new or off-the-shelf proprietary software or web applications can be realized provided it is used correctly - just like Dan says. Technology in and of itself can provide rich content for e-learning at level 3 through simulations where end-users are free to explore or contextual electronic performance support systems that help end-users through difficult tasks in a procedural fashion.

E-learning is a great training tool that can be expensive, but in the long run it can be cost-effective provided it is used correctly and the content accommodates the need for an interactive environment.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Justin -- thanks for the excellent points you added on my post, and for adding even more perpective here. Your points are spot on, and need to be heeded by LOTS of companies out there that create "data dump" elearning.

Some of the online classes I've taken are simply (a) Read this .... and then (b) Answer these questions. And while they were informative in the sense that I was interested in the topic, they were **Yawwwwwnn** in the sense that they were quite dry in their delivery.

Your points should be part of all "train the e-trainer" courses!!

- Dan Bobinski