Serious e-learning

Reasons your, not so serious, e-learning project is likely to fail

I have been working on e-learning platforms, amongst other things, for the better part of a decade. This might seem long, but surprisingly e-learning has been around for over 50 years. You would, of course, be forgiven if you hadn't recognised it, as it has gone by various pseudonyms since its early inception in the 1960s. From VLEs to MLEs, LMSs to ILPs, but the underlying principle still remains the same; the use of technology to disseminate content and enhance learning and instruction.

 

Unfortunately, e-learning has not really lived up to its hype, but from my experience that has more to do with poor analysis and implementation, than the technology or software itself. It might surprise you to know that generally 50% or more of all IT projects fail (http://www.cnet.com/uk/news/62-percent-of-it-projects-fail-why/) and this is mostly due to the reasons above, what is even more scary is that some don't even know they've failed.

During my time as a consultant I have inevitably met a few cowboys/cowgirls, disguising various e-learning platforms as fully fledged e-learning solutions and offering heaven and earth to get a contract. Sadly, most of them end up delivering a pile of quick sand, leaving the client to sink deeper into confusion wondering why their e-learning "solution" doesn't work.

This type of mediocrity has become so prevalent in the industry that a group of leading e-learning experts recently got together and came up with the "Serious e-learning Manifest". This basically outlines what serious e-learning should have as its foundation, which is quiet funny as most "Real McCoy" experts know this and have been doing it for years. Perhaps this information is better aimed at clients (please read http://elearningmanifesto.org/).

To help further navigate through these trepid waters I would like to dispel a few myths and set the record straight.

 

1.  E-learning is cheaper and easier to implement than traditional training:

Nope, at least, not in the short term. Most of the benefits are seen over a long period of time as Serious e-learning needs to be customised to meet an organisation's specific needs, which takes time and money from the outset.

2. It's about the technology:  No, it isn't. "Serious e-learning" is roughly 30% technology and the rest is what I like to call the human touch; change management, project management, instructional design etc. These are the things that prepare you for the transition and the unexpected, keep the project in focus and on track and finally bring your content to life making it engaging and most of all fit for purpose. Technology alone cannot do this.

3. It is a one-time operation: "Serious e-learning" is never finished, but that doesn't mean it should cost you more.  A proper e-learning solution provider  should provide you, the client, with the skill set to easily amend, upgrade and improve the delivery of your courses progressively, in fact, it is a must.

 

For many people new to technology and looking for an e-learning solution I can understand this might all be a bit difficult to take in. So, in the next blog I will outline strategic questions you can ask yourselves (your organisation) and potential e-learning providers, that will help you analyse your readiness for e-learning and weed out any cowboys in the room.

Written by Oyehmi. T. Begho BSc (Hons), QTS, MA, MBCS, MCPN