Thursday, September 21, 2006

Critics of Gagne's

Brent Schlenker points to this post  from Donald Clark about how Gagne's 9 Events of Instruction need to be rethought.  My initial reaction after reading that was "right on"... especially considering the current project I'm working on.  We're basically doing everything that Clark is criticizing.
However, after re-reading it, it seems like his criticisms aren't of Gagne's Events -- he's really criticizing how "typical" e-learning has applied those events.  Even Kruse's explanation seems to fall into that same pattern, though after hearing him speak at the ELearn DevCon, I'm sure he's NOT in favor of the "standard" ways of e-learning.
In a perfect world, of course, every student would have learning interactions tailored specifically to his/her style of learning.  And the whole eLearning 2.0 thing seems to move in that direction.  However, there are quite a few people who learn most effectively by having pages and pages of text put in front of them, and then taking a test at the end.  When we've done some more interactive stuff in our training, I've actually heard criticisms because they found it to be too distracting and they just wanted to read.  Admittedly, that was only a few people... but we shouldn't totally ignore them in the effort to be more interactive.
Anyway... I think Gagne's is great tool/ guide.  It's by no means the way to teach, and neither is Bloom's or Mager's or Glaser's or anyone's.  But they are great "roadmaps" and help me, at least, to develop an understanding of the theories behind a successful e-Learning program.  Sadly, they're completely irrelevant in my current situation... but I'm making small (VERY small) steps towards that goal.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Crazy day

I was really hoping to update this page more often... but as it happens, the moment I started, we got a huge project.  The project could actually be great fodder for MANY posts.  Here's the situation:
One of our departments is rolling out a LOT of new products, and they need to the sales folk to be trained on those products.  So the solution is - create a 60 minute long "module" that goes over every product in depth.  Not only that... they have to go through the entire module at one sitting, or else they have to start over again.
One of the most recent "disagreements"  I've had with the boss is the inclusion of a bunch of Flash videos that demonstrate the products.  Some of the videos are a few minutes in length, and most of the information is actually covered by prior frames... so I had the "next" button pop up when the video starts. The boss said they only wanted the buttons to come on after the ENTIRE demo is done.  I've timed out the whole module, and if they don't even read any of the text and just click "next" all the way through -- it'll take about 40 minutes.  Now imagine if you're actually reading some of the text.  I'm thinking this could take an hour-and-a-half out of these poor sales people's lives.
This is one of those projects that I believe would be PERFECT for a wiki-style interaction.  Sure, cover the big points in a 10 minutes Flash movie... but put the depth on pages where they can choose to go.  If people just don't have any interest in selling a particular product, why force them to learn everything about it?

Friday, September 08, 2006

who spends 2 nonstop hours on a single course?

My challege: convince the "higher-ups" that a module that takes 2 hours to go through is a REALLY bad idea. Especially when you deal with sales people who really don't want to spend 10 minutes on training. Also, why are we forcing them go through information they may not care about? Do we want these people to actually learn something, or do the SVPs just want to flex their muscle and feel satisfied that they forced people to look at their work?

Now, our SVPs are NOT bad people. In fact, quite the opposite. But, there comes a point when you're a manager that a touch of the "power trip" kicks in. You've got a bunch of things you want to tell people... and you're going to force them to hear it. Of course, once you're done, they forget everything and move on.... but at least you have the satisfaction that your thoughts are out there. It's NOT a good teaching method though.

So, how does a "schmoe" like me convey that idea to bosses?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

the death of the website and the web designer

I was taking a brief break from work and was scanning through SharpReader to catch up on news, politics, tech stuff, etc. I ran across this post from the RSS godfather about his water company having an RSS feed.  My first thought was "hmm.... that's interesting",  but my second thought was "hmm... I haven't been to the Scripting News website in forever."  And why would I?  He's got a great, full-feed RSS... and even the comments come into the aggregator.  So really, the actual page offers me almost NOTHING.
As a designer, the prospect of my web design being irrelevant is disheartening, to say the least.  But honestly,  it seems like the only thing a blog needs is a page with an "RSS" button on it.  Heck, you might as well just redirect to the Feedburner page, because that's already presentable.  I realize that the days of aggregator-only "surfing" are still WAY in the future... but as I've gotten more into SharpReader, I find that Firefox is being used less-and-less. I wonder if there are any RSS-only blogs out there?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Time to take your e-Learning

We deal with a lot of sales people here, so 75% of our online training is centered on Sales topics.  While I've never worked in sales, I've known quite a few sales people and talk to them everyday through the job (they call me with their tech problems).  The one thing I've noticed is that almost all of them would rather be selling than going through training. 
At an in-class training sessions I visited, whenever there was a break, EVERY SINGLE cellphone or Blackberry would be pulled out.  And that's understandable, because... they're Sales People.  To be successful you have to A.B.C.  -- Always Be Celling.  I know it should be A.B.S., but ABC is so Alec Baldwin. 
Anyway, asking these people to spend a day in a "classroom" is a feat.  But on top of that, we're asking them to spend 30 minutes on each module (across 7 or 8 modules) even BEFORE they come to class.  I just don't see how this is effective training.  An idea that I had was to cut the modules WAY down, and only put in the absolute most important stuff... then put all the specific info into a Wiki style HTML page.  That way, if they want to learn more, they can.  But if they don't, we don't force them.
Of course, getting totally away from the module system would be best... but baby steps.