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A response to The Serious eLearning Manifesto – part one

We were interested to see the publication of The Serious eLearning Manifesto recently, and while the points that it makes are perhaps not radically new, they are well worth paying attention to.

In 1986, a small company then known as Eric Parsloe Industrial Communications (Epic) was starting out on the south coast of England with the futuristic idea that people might be able to learn from video consoles. Since then, Epic has seen many innovations in technology come and go, but the principles of good learning and good learning design have remained the same. Many of these principles are captured by the manifesto.

We believe that there are also some advances in learning which we would add to this.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be sharing with you our responses to all 22 points of the manifesto, so make sure you check back soon for the next installment.

1.     Do Not Assume that Learning is the Solution

‘We do not assume that a learning intervention is always the best means to helping people perform better.’

We agree. Take a look at our DRIVE model for performance support to find out about other ways to help people perform.

2.     Do Not Assume that eLearning is the Answer

‘When learning is required, we do not assume that elearning is the only (or the best) solution.’

Again, we agree. Elearning or multi-device learning may be part of the answer, in the form of a well-designed blend (see our glance on blended learning), or it may not be the answer at all. In some cases, a campaign may be the answer (see our insight on campaigns vs courses), or a series of mentoring and coaching sessions, or face-to-face sessions, or webinars.

3.     Tie Learning to Performance Goals

‘We will couple the skills we are developing to the goals of organizations, individuals, or both.’

It’s astonishing that this even needs to be stated, but certainly it always makes sense to tie learning plans to tangible goals.

4.     Target Improved Performance

‘We will help our learners achieve performance excellence; enabling them to have improved abilities, skills, confidence, and readiness to perform.’

Again, yes. We are fans of Cathy Moore’s action mapping techniques for doing this, and also draw on the work of Bloom and Mager. See our consultancy pages to find out how we can help you do this.

5.     Provide Realistic Practice

‘We will provide learners sufficient levels of realistic practice; for example, simulations, scenario-based decision making, case-based evaluations, and authentic exercises.’

Where practice is important, and it usually is when learning a skill, it should be realistic. To learn more about realistic practice, check out Epic’s white paper on simulations and skills building.

6.     Enlist Authentic Contexts

‘We will provide learners with sufficient experience in making decisions in authentic contexts.’

Realistic practice usually involves authentic contexts. Again, refer to our white papers on simulation and skills building for more in-depth information on this.

7.     Provide Guidance and Feedback

‘We will provide learners with guidance and feedback to correct their misconceptions, reinforce their comprehension, and build effective performance skills.’

This is another statement that is so obvious that it is shocking that the writers of the manifesto felt the need to include it, but of course, guidance and feedback is vital. That will include tailored feedback to questions, feedback that gives more details at each failure to successfully achieve a task, an onscreen guide to offer further information through to assessments that offer more questions depending on performance.

The serious elearning manifesto - Learning and development - Woman with headphones using an iPad

This post was written by Imogen Casebourne and first appeared on the Epic blog on 22nd April 2014.