Thursday, July 05, 2012

Students Are Smarter Than Your Old eLearning Design

Want to know what regular people think of eLearning? A simple, and regular, search of the term "eLearning" on Twitter reveals an overwhelming portion of NEGATIVE tweets about eLearning experiences.  And even worse, they expose the uselessness of the methods being used to assess the learning that is assumed to have occurred during these digital experiences.  Quite frankly, it's embarrassing.  Check out how "MintToppings" passed her "eLearning" quiz.
We could look at this with a positive spin and applaud miss MintToppings for her higher order thinking skills and technical ability to game the system in the manner she that she did.  Or we could open our eyes to the fact that we still have a lot of work to do.  WE, as an industry, need to step up our game.

If you have a next button with slide after slide of content followed by a multiple choice quiz at the end, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!  Find out how to do it right from those who are paving the way towards the future of learning experiences.  Some of these folks are your peers, but others come from very different industries and they don't have degrees in instructional design. They come with experience in film, gaming, engineering, theater, psychology, anthropology (HT @moehlert), design, and just about every other creative industry you can think of.  The technologies of today and tomorrow, combined with their desire to teach their craft trumps your ID degree.

Anyone with a desire to learn deserves better than a next button and a multiple choice quiz.  I'm certain miss MintToppings would agree.

DevLearn 2012 Conference and Expo - ARIA Resort, Las Vegas, NV - Oct.31st-Nov.2nd


Unknown said...

I totally agree with you that that "clicking is not learning" However,I have seen some absolutely awesome elearning created by ID's. My take on it is that with rapid elearning authoring tools making it easier for just about anyone to create eLearning, too many people just don't understand adult learning principles and we end up with click, click and NOT learning!

bschlenker said...

You are right. I probably beat up ID's a little too much. I am one too, and I'm guilty of creating "click next" eLearning courses. But that was many years ago now, and there are new technologies that allow so much more. I know there are many ID's doing great work, and they know who they are. But there are many still stuck in the eLearning mindset of the '90s and it's time to move on.

I'm fortunate enough to see our industry through a very broad lens and from a very high level. What I see is a market just ACHING for our help and few ID's to answer the call. I see entrepreneurs from other industries diving in to solve learning problems with new media technologies, and I see teachers effectively using new media and making a fortune...quietly. I see the world of education/training/learning changing to the point of traditional ID extinction. Adult learning theory is even changing, and becoming more clearly defined with very recent findings in brain research and more.

It's time for a refresh. This blog post and many more to come will be my call to arms for those settled comfortably into their old ID ways.

Michelle Childs said...

Sounds good to me.... I'm gonna jump on your bandwagon! Would be interested to hear more about changing adult learning theories if you can direct me to any sites.

Look forward to reading more from you :-)

Siege said...

I'm not an ID (whatever that is) just somebody interested in developing tools for e-learning.

I don't see any problem with what the girl did in your post, almost every elearning framework would allow you to reload the module or just use the back button to revisit content. She just made that process easier on herself (smart girl). She still had to read the content on her phone to answer the question.

You didn't give any examples or even hints apart from "WE NEED DIFFERENT, NOW!"

Of-course social media is full of negative comments on e-learning. Who wants to do e-learning?

Has the classroom dynamic changed much, you still use books and have exams, right?

Not saying I don't agree that some innovation is needed, but saying "click next + assessment" is not effective without much evidence or at least some alternatives is just a little brash i think.

Siege said...

you also mention its useless - I am assuming she passed the assessment and learnt something?

Michelle Childs said...

Hi Seige
I think we all agree that there is good elearning and bad elearning out there, just like there is good and bad face to face training. The question is - "did the learner learn?". Being able to recall something that you read a couple of minutes ago, doesn't mean that you learnt anything. Would she remember it even half an hour later? We will never know if this learner learnt anything or not!
I heard recently of an example of eLearning in a large organisation, where the staff just clicked through each slide without even reading and did a multi-choice test at the end, which they could just keep redoing until they got the pass.
I'm not criticising the tools, I'm talking about how they're used. In Brent's example, it doesn't sound like this type of elearning was appropriate.

Siege said...

Hi Michelle,

I have seen lot of courses, some look nice and are well written, others not so much. Most still follow this "next button + exam" scenario. We don't know if in the case of this learner, it was great content or bad content - I would wager she would do her phone trick either way.

Your corporate example is very common. Workers are not invested in learning what their managers put them through, they don't care. Who wants to know how to lift boxes properly or best to follow corporate guidelines. Its just a tick in a box. I know I wouldn't.

I am just struggling with picturing any alternative as I haven't had experience of one yet. The tools out there pretty much only offer "click next + exam", don't they?

I'm really new to this community (of eLearning blogs etc) is there a good resource of new techniques out there somebody could point me at?

TBH, I am not sure there is an answer to this yet. The corporate world wants to assess if their courses are being passed, how else do you do it (if you stick to actual elearning)

p.s I'm not being argumentative, I just would like to understand what's around the corner in terms of new techniques.

bschlenker said...

Hi Siege,
You!re not alone in wondering what is next. I have some ideas and some examples in previous post. Our entire industry struggles with the same questions.
In many businesses, certain "training" is required for legal reasons. From a business perspective "content + quiz = compliance" and therefore it's the better choice. From a pure learning perspective it rarely is proven effective.
BUT that doesn't mean that model can't be more effective if designed correctly.
I would encourage you to read up on some of the latest brain research to build a foundation to build on. Look into concepts like space-repetition. Read everything written by Ruth Clark on the science of instruction.
I totally understand why you feel the way you do...and I must sound like a ranting lunatic. There are many people like yourself just getting into this industry and it must be confusing as hack for you all because it's confusing to all of us who have been doing it for a long time as well.
Hang in there, and keep asking questions. My apologies if the tone of my blog is off-putting. I too often default to assuming my colleagues for the past decade are the only ones that read this blog :)

Siege said...

Thanks for the reply, I will certainly look into those resources.

Let me spin it a different way.

If you had a big bag-o-cash, and could have a software company build you a tool. What would you have that tool do?

Is there a "forum" you guys all use/share? I could shovel hundreds of questions at you lot, and your blog probably isn't the best medium to use.:)

Michelle Childs said...

This is a good discussion!

eLearning that uses scenarios that make the learner "think" about an issue, and learn from the mistakes they make, is one preferable type of elearning - have a look at this example created in Articulate Storyline - (my favourite is "Broken Coworker"). I've learnt a lot from discussion groups on LinkedIn. You're welcome to visit my profile at, and you'll there some of the groups that I subscribe to.
Some really good blogs to check out are The Rapid eLearning Blog - although it's based on Articulate products, he has some excellent advice for designing elearning.

Hope this helps.

bschlenker said...

Check out The eLearning Guild's LinkedIn Group. There are thousands of members having discussions just like this.

Siege - The LinkedIn Group is the best place to continue this discussion.