Friday, January 12, 2007

Same Old Story

Learning Circuits has been following up on the question of "Quality vs. Speed". And of course, the true "answer" seems to be: quality should always be the best, whether the learning is developed quickly or slowly. You could spend a year creating an eLearning solution, and if it isn't effective, the fact that you spent a year on it won't mean anything. Conversely, if you create a solution in two days, and it works, the amount of time won't mean anything.

The one thing I've noticed, at least in the corporate world, is that when you do something fast and it's good, the next project is expected to be finished just as quickly and with the same quality. And many times, they expect it faster and better. Since I deal in the sales world, the measure of success really is quantity. How many calls have you made? How much did you bill this week? Did you bill more/less this quarter than last quarter? What can you do to get more clients next quarter?

However, this approach to eLearning is doomed to fail. It's true that I could output more modules... I could probably create a module a week, and to be honest, they'd look pretty good. When the VP goes through them, he'll think, "These are really nice-looking and they include all the information I want". But the student will probably get very little out of them. We do have testing at the end, and of course, people will pass the tests and move on... and it looks like we're successful. But I can guarantee, if I were to ask people a few months down the road what they remember, they'll more than likely say, "nothing". It can be disheartening from a teaching stand-point.

I had really hoped that this year, I could convince the higher-ups to re-evaluate the goals of our eLearning program, but sadly, that hasn't been the case. I pushed to create some genuine feedback for the modules, but the time it would take to implement that would take away from the bottom-line output.

What I think I need is some research. Sales people LOVE looking at demographics, and buying habits, and charts and graphs. I think I'm going to spend some of my breaks looking for eLearning research. Tony Karrer bought up the idea of blogs as a discussion tool... so on the off chance that someone besides me reads this --- does anyone have links to research done? Or charts or graphs? or anything?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Big Question - January 2007

It's been a while, but I figure I'd get back in the swing with the Learning Circuits blog's Big Question:

What are the trade offs between quality learning programs and rapid e-learning and how do you decide?

Since I've pretty much only done the "rapid" approach, it's tough to make the comparison. However, our company just recently launched a new online product (not e-learning related), and it's been a HUGE hit. I bring this up because they had been working on it for over 6 months, and went through many alpha and beta tests to make sure everything was great, prior to going live. When MY team has been tasked with an eLearning project, we might get a week or two... starting with nothing and ending with a finished product.

Currently, we've got five learning modules that need to be online by March 1st... which actually means a week before March 1st, so the higher-ups can approve them. My job is basically to make sure they're not TOTALLY boring... as there's no way I could brainstorm and implement anything great, cool, and engaging with just 1 and 1/2 weeks per module.

So I guess that's the real difference. Rapid development doesn't allow for "beta tests", or innovation. By the time I research some cool, new ActionScript class that will make the module interactive, it's time to move on to the next module.