When it comes to workplace learning, the digital age offers endless promises. However, e-learning serves up far too many examples of ineffective courses and lackluster materials.
Despite a century of false promises, the notion persists that information disseminated in the newest way – via whichever technology is hot at the moment – should somehow miraculously cause people to learn more effectively. But just how true is that?
In his book Learning Technologies in the Workplace, Learning and Performance Institute Chairman Donald H. Taylor argues that:
“Although in the 21st century information technology has developed massively, the understanding of the role of learning technologies has not.”
He goes on to stress that the emergence of massive open online courses (MOOCs) only illuminates a recurring misjudgment. As in the past, designers have focused too heavily on technology at the expense of content and delivery. Learning and development (L&D) professionals must be aware that while today’s e-learning comes at a reduced cost, it fails to get to know its learners.
Overcome E-Learning Pitfalls
Sadly, unimaginative content and the absence of instructors have led to the all-too-common “click next” experience. Screen after screen of flat, sleep-inducing material alienates learners and leaves them feeling disengaged. They must slog through content slide after slide. In a 2015 study, just 6% of learners reported a highly satisfying experience with generic, self-paced e-learning.
Not that Taylor is opposed to technological advance. He acknowledges that modern learning technologies can indeed benefit and even transform education. However, this requires that L&D professionals, managers and leaders overcome their ingrained schoolroom mind-sets.
Generations of adults spent much of their youth in classrooms where “experts” taught courses and transferred their knowledge to students. No doubt, you and your colleagues see learning through this lens. It’s a bias that leads to assumptions that you can solve most workplace problems with training courses, either in the classroom or online. However, this is not necessarily accurate.
“Most modern organizations simply cannot learn well enough, fast enough and widely enough by relying on classroom training.”
Know Your Learners
Platforms such as getAbstract demonstrate that there is one thing far more crucial than the hottest technology: Knowing what your learners want. According to Taylor, you should build a relationship with your learners, know their needs and deliver accordingly. This not only includes seeking your learners’ input but knowing how your own organization works.
“Know how your users work, and why and how they learn. Build deep, broad knowledge of your organization, including internal operations and external influencers.”
He adds that organizations that understand this approach ask for greater productivity from their e-learning services. Rather than simply piling up information, modern platforms should support video-based, social and mobile learning, making peer-to-peer collaboration, knowledge-sharing and real-time learning more accessible.
getAbstract heeds Taylor’s advice in offering current, to-the-point material the employees themselves control. With its extensive offering, getAbstract allows employees to expand their worldview and improve their business skills in their own time, their own way.