Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Training My Way vs. Training Your Way

My friend and learning community colleague, David Anderson has been a consistent blogger for 3 years now...

...this will be his 3rd post in those three years ;-)

BUT, its a good one and worth talking about. Can we (or should we) offer up our training in smaller chunks and allow the user to pick and choose at will? I remember creating courses where we left the navigation open for users to move around freely but the content list was organized in a way that supported the "right" order of the content.

I'm not sure that I want my tech books to be sold in pieces though. I normally purchase those giant 60+$ books with the idea that they are a resource to be accessed non-linearly anyway. For example, I'm currently getting back into FileMaker Pro. I needed a book to get started. I went with "Learn FileMaker Pro 9" by Jonathan Stars. Normally I enjoy the larger books that are more like resource guides. But knowing that databases are not my strong area of expertise I knew I better let an expert guide me through the process HIS WAY. The review I read mentioned that his book was the best for walking you through a practical example.

Sure enough. Right after chapter 2 I got anxious and tried to skip to chapter 9, to learn the really cool stuff that had been bugging me, but I get totally lost and confused. So back I go to chapter 3 and dig in. By the time I got to chapter 9 THIS TIME it all made sense and I had the aha momment I was so desparately looking for.

In this case I don't think purchasing the book chapter by chapter would have been a good idea.

HOWEVER! Not everything that I had learned was making sense. I still wasn't "getting it" enough to build what I wanted. So, I Google for tutorials and find some great screencasts...BINGO! Now this is the kind of media I want to use MY WAY. I just want the 3.5minute movie that is focused on one topic...the topic that has perplexed me.

Bottom Line: My Way isn't always the best way. But it's MY DECISION and so you better let me make it!!!


Musings on Second Life said...

I agree that having an entire book may be more useful than purchasing individual chapters; however, I may get what I need from the first five chapters and not the entire book. So, purchasing individual chapters may prove far more useful - the topic may have a lot to do with how I chose to purchase book content. Some topics beg for the whole book and others do not.

bschlenker said...

YOu've got a great point. So in the case of old-school publishing we are really at the mercy of the author.
However, what if instructional books were more like wikipedia?
Or maybe use what you need until your problem is solved and then pay. That might be an interesting model.
Great conversation!

Gary H said...

For me, I like the "ala carte" idea with a suggested sequence because I don't have time to read through a lot of content. I want to find what I need quickly and move on.

As a developer the problem comes when management asks "how effective is that ala carte training?" LMS systems can't handle this kind of training, although we know it is worthwhile and helps people. I'd rather not call it "training" at all. That implies a structured course when in reality most people want content, not training.

bschlenker said...

So...I guess this takes back to the Training vs. Performance Support conversation.

I'm finding that it is very hard for books to be good at both.

For other content, like eLearning, I think this is where reusable learning objects fail. For a long time we wanted to have our cake and eat it too. We wanted plug and play "objects" that could be consumed individually but also be part of a larger "course", or curriculum. In my experience, that's just not easy to do well.

I like small chunks at times for certain topics, but other topics require a more structured approach even I when I don't want them too ;-)

Thanks for adding to the conversation.