I attended the Dreamforce conference recently in San Francisco and was blown away by the size and scope of the conference. Over 135,000 people registered for the the conference, and sessions were held over four days at the massive Moscone Center and in several hotels throughout the area.
The problem with anything social (social media, enterprise social, social learning) is the 90-9-1 rule which states that 90% of people will not participate. These “lurkers” are content to read what the other 10% are producing and/or commenting on. This might not be a problem in social media as a whole, but it is a problem in corporate learning when we want 100% participation.
Whether or not we can prove it, most of us “know" that we learn most of what we need to know about our jobs through some form of informal learning. Most of us will cite experience or on-the-job (OJT) training as the most popular form of learning we use to learn our jobs. However we define it, OJT plays a major role for how people learn their jobs. Elliott Masie raises this issue in a Chief Learning Officer Magazine post, discussing the vital importance of OJT training, how learning professionals under report its importance, and what the future of OJT might look like.
In 2003, I worked on a project to break up long eLearning courses into shorter versions. In an early meeting to discuss how we would tackle the problem, the idea came up to “chunk” up the courses, so we called the project, “Chunky Monkey.” The catalyst was that we were getting direct feedback that the courses were too long, and in a call center, taking people off the phones is not something to do unless there is a darn good reason. We thought that by breaking up our eLearning courses into short modules, they could be completed during idle times between customer calls.
Earlier this month, I wrote a blog post about five ways to make your training survey questions more effective. This week, I'd like to discuss whether we should do survey questions at all? Seriously. Part of me thinks we should not conduct training surveys at all.
We all do it. We begin creating a training class, eLearning course, or presentation by sitting down at the computer, typing bullet points of the important things we need to present. If we are in a groove, we can create five to ten slides pretty quickly in a rough first draft. When we get to a stopping point, we look back and can be quite proud of our first draft.
Two questions any eLearning designer should ask when designing a course are, "How will I know if this eLearning course is effective and how will I define effective?" Certainly every professional, no matter what the field, is concerned about doing great work and knowing how he/she will know when that great work is achieved. A surgeon wants to know whether a procedure is effective. A mechanic wants to know whether a repair works. An eLearning designer wants to know whether a training course is effective.
Gone are the days when you have as much time as you need to deliver an effective training class. Few businesses are willing to dedicate the time necessary for people to learn new skills. After all, proper training is time consuming, expensive, and organizations need to operate as efficiently as possible. You have likely experienced this first hand in conversations with business managers in which you explain why a class requires four hours, while the manager tells you she can only give you ninety minutes.
One of the reasons that e-learning is so successful is that it solves a problem of delivering training to audiences that are dispersed across the country and even around the world. Our workplaces have never been more global and the more global organizations are the more scalable and efficient e-learning delivery can be.