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R.I.P e-Learning?

This post first appeared on the LINE blog on 2nd February 2012.

Is it R.I.P. for the e-learning course? Patrick Thomas LINE’s Key Account Director for the Energy Sector discusses.

I can’t recall when a single image has caused such a firestorm. Internally, colleagues were incensed that we were ringing the death knell for our bread-and-butter business. And later in a meeting with a client, they sardonically asked, “If that’s true, where does that leave LINE and the rest?”
We’re doing just fine, thank you.

Context is everything. In the same way that 70-20-10 doesn’t predict an end to formal learning but describes all learning in the context of an organisation’s people, processes, technology and culture, I’m suggesting with the above image, that the multi-hour e-learning programme created to be a silver bullet learning intervention is dead.

No single course is going to be sufficient to carry an organisation’s curriculum – no matter how long it is, how engaging the scenario is nor how much money is spent on it. Instead, adult learning – yes, e-learning included – is most effective when the entire organisation is fully considered. Employees should be able to engage with organisational curricula via every means, method and technology available within the organisation.

Just as advertising execs harp on about creating as many touch points as possible with their clients’ brands, we look at the organisation like a system of potential levers which can be used to encourage users to grapple with the learning materials.

The single behemoth e-learning course is dead. It attempts to take the individual out of the context of the workplace and confines them into an artificial construct of Next – Back and Pass-Fail. If the subject matter really matters, we need to be building spaces which increase a learner’s curiosity, respects their time and naturally reflects the organisation’s people, processes and technology they find everyday in their workplace.

I know for many, it must feel like they’ve just won an argument on the advantages of e-learning and now we are saying, “Chuck it all out!” Not at all. I’d say that the argument wasn’t solely on e-learning per se, but more broadly on the value of technology enabled learning within the context of each organisation’s unique environment. Smart learning design hasn’t died. Smart learning design now looks consultatively to the organisation’s architecture to create a lasting impact.

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