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Monday, September 27, 2004

Down with Boring E-Learning!

Interview with 'e-learning guru' Michael W. Allen. By Ryann Ellis Learning Circuits, via OLDaily

This is just a great article all the way though, but my favourite section is the bit that talks particularly about boring e-learning:

Learning Circuits: You often talk about your frustration with current e-learning efforts. Indeed, I saw that your session at ASTD 2004 was called, "No More Boring E-Learning." Why/how do you find most e-learning to be boring? What isn't working? Pet Peeves?

Allen: E-learning is often boring for the same reasons much traditional instruction is boring. It focuses on content presentation rather than the learning experience. In fact, I find that 99 percent of it all follows the “tell-and-test” paradigm: convey a block of content through lecture, books, screens, movies, bullet slides, and so forth.
Then, give a quiz. All the boring stuff generally overlooks my three primary criteria (the 3Ms):

Meaningful. What’s more boring than content you don’t understand? Not much, except content you’ve already mastered. If you’re set on the content you’re going to present, regardless of who you’re training and the differences among your learners, then you’re set on boring at least some of them—quite possibly all of them. Learning experiences need to be tailored with focus on the learner: Does the learner see the value in learning this? Are learners fearful, impatient, confused? What are their
goals and how do they relate to the goals you have for them?

Memorable. What value is learning material you won’t remember even a day or two past the posttest? Good posttest scores aren’t the reason for learning. It’s the ability, confidence, and readiness to perform valued tasks. We need to create learning experiences that stick with our learners so that they are able to perform at the right times.

Motivational. You can’t learn for your learners. They have to do the learning themselves. That means they have to be paying attention, thinking, and doing those things that create knowledge and skills within them. It’s as important to inspire (read energize) learners as it is to present content to them, because, with insufficient motivation, all that content is going to evaporate, leaving scant residue.

While these principles are important for all forms of instruction, they are perhaps critical to the success of e-learning where working alone on a computer can become boring so very quickly when there’s nothing interesting going on. My biggest pet peeve is e-learning that is focused on presenting a boatload of content (the worst is pages and pages of text) and not on the learning experience. Isn’t a little effective learning better than a lot of wasted time? Trim that content down so you can create some high-impact experiences. Please.”


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