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What's happening in the world of digital learning?

  • Ashleigh Hull

Ask 'Why?'

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

“Give me an elearning course!” is a cry you must hear very frequently. Possibly preceded by, “we need to tell our staff about this new procedure” or “we need to stop people being so mean to each other at work” or “if everyone knew how to calm an angry elephant we could have avoided last week’s incident.” Or something like that.

Broadly speaking, you have two possible responses to this request. One is, "OK I'll get right on that." I am here today to urge you to choose a different response. Instead of answering every cry of "give me elearning" with an automatic "but of course", I want to ask you to consider asking "why?" instead.

The thing is, people use elearning as a blanket solution for every problem. Can't do this? Don't know that? Business not achieving this? Sign them up to a course! Build them some training! But this is very much like picking up a random jigsaw piece from the table in front of you and forcing it to fit with the one in your hand. There is a piece, somewhere among the others on the table, which will fit your piece perfectly. There is a solution to your problem that will suit it as if made for it. But elearning is not always that puzzle piece.

So when someone calls for elearning, we need to ask them why. Find out the reasons beneath the request, the gap this course is being asked to fill. Find out why previous elearning courses haven't worked; perhaps your people don't respond well to elearning, or the subject matter just isn't suited to it. Figure out if elearning is actually going to be the best solution here. Perhaps it would be better to have everyone in a room together workshopping ideas; or to give people a book rather than wordy page-turning elearning; or to send them to an elephant sanctuary where they can gain hands-on experience from professional elephant trainers.

You might discover that elearning doesn't fit your jigsaw piece after all. That's OK. Your job is not to produce tons of elearning courses, particularly ones that aren't really going to do any good; it's to help your organisation succeed, to execute their strategy and achieve their aims. So elearning doesn't fit this problem. Just go grab some more pieces from the box, and figure out which one does.

Be more than a factory churning out product. Consult. Be someone who gets other people thinking. Give your organisation or your clients what they need, instead of what they think they want. That's providing genuine value. And that's ensuring that when we do produce elearning, it's a high-quality, effective solution.

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