May 2011


…many well-educated instructional designers who have not worked with interactive technologies attempt to apply designs that don’t translate well from the classroom or text book to e-learning.  The medium really does demand different design decisions, and there are important skills to be mastered if one is to become a successful e-learning designer.

The quote above is from Michael Allen’s second book in his e-learning library.  These books are must-reads for anyone planning to create their own own e-learning, regardless of background, education, or experience.

The book provides a thoughtful overview of instructional design, complete with recommended reading and resources, a design methodology to focus on measurable results (ISPI standard #1), and a systematic approach that accounts for factors beyond learning outcomes and content, such as prior learning and expectations.

I guarantee this book will have a positive impact on your e-learning and traditional learning development.

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Source: http://www.learningguidesolutions.com/images/uploads/pdf/Learningguide_presentatie_Nick_van_Dam-.pdf

Like any training medium, online learning can be misused.  It is so quick and easy to put something online that even well-meaning people could fail to employ instructional design principles when creating their materials.  I understand that their are times when project constraints require hard decisions to be made.  However, if you are allocating time and resources to a learning project it is important to employ best practices.

The image above demonstrates the need for instructional design principles when creating online learning.  In short, the more engaged a learner is, the more he or she retains.

Much of what passes as online learning involves lots of reading and seeing. Very rarely does it require the learner to contribute anything.  If you want your learners to retain more you must involve them.  That takes effort, expertise, and a desire to create a more meaningful experience for your audience.

I have no idea if this book is worth reading but the general principles in this four minute video are thought provoking.
If you like the video, get the book.  If you like the book blog about it so everyone can gain from your insights too.

Have you ever thought your classroom training could have been shorter?  Did your e-learning course resemble a PowerPoint slideshow?  Has your mind wandered during a webinar?  Ever wanted to test out of some training?

As a learning professional it is my responsibility to choose the delivery method that will achieve the best outcome.  My primary consideration is ensuring the participants retain what they are supposed to learn.  If that was the only consideration my life would be a lot easier.  For better or worse we live and work in a world of budget constraints, geographic separation, and learning styles that affect our how we present training.

When I started my career in adult learning e-learning was hot and organizations were moving all their training out of the classroom.  In their eagerness to catch this wave, little or no consideration was given to instructional design.  Later I joined an organization that relied heavily on classroom training.  Neither of these situations is better than the other.

So what is the best way to present training?

The only way to answer that question is, it depends on your situation.  The table below matches frequently asked questions with common delivery methods.  The table is intended to help decide what is the best way to present your training.

Don’t agree with something in the table?  Add a comment.  Start the discussion.

Below the table are links that provide additional information about each of the methods.

ILT -Classroom

ILT-Online

Webinar

Asynchronous Online (Podcast, etc)

Multimedia Online

Coaching/

Mentoring

Do the instructor and students need to be in the same location?

X

X

Do the instructor and students need to interact?

X

X

X

X

Do the students need to interact with each other?

X

X

Do students need immediate feedback and remediation?

X

X

X

X

Does the content require rich media (video and audio)?

X

X

X

X

Does the content require long explanations (over 20 minutes)?

X

X

X

X

Does the content require practice?

X

X

X

X

Does the content require hands-on practice?

X

Does the content require role play or simulations?

X

X

X

Does the learning need to be assessed?

X

X

X

X

Is the training time-sensitive?

X

X

X

X

Resources:
Training Delivery Methods
Training Delivery Options and Media