Online job training has become the buzzwords for a lot of folks over the past couple of years. In 2010, I wrote myself the following note:
“Since close to a third of all job training is delivered electronically, I’ve been exploring some of the advantages and pitfalls of this knowledge delivery system. I must admit that I am not a big fan of electronic learning, particularly online
courses, primarily because of my experience with the courses I’ve participated in.
I attended one asynchronous (accessible to me at any time or place) NAHB course where the “instructor” essentially read word for word the massive amount of text that was presented on my computer screen- and I couldn’t advance to the next screen until they finished the narration! Since I read around 1,000 words per minute, you can imagine my frustration- I think by the end, I would have rather lain through a colonoscopy!
I participated in a synchronous, collaborative (instructor-led, available only at a single time, interactive) online course that was essentially presentation slides that the “instructor” led us through. Forget the fact that these slides had way too much text that the instructor read and graphics that didn’t connect with the text, we also suffered from other attendees who were engaged in side bar conversations with random people who strolled into their offices, we were entertained by barking dogs, trains whistles and one person who took their phone with them into the bathroom while they umm… proceeded to pee in what I presumed was the toilet!
As I look at these different delivery mechanisms, there are several things that I’ve become aware of: first, the rush to online learning is probably premature for most of the organizations currently delivering services; second, most of the designers of online learning media are clueless about how to design curriculum for web-based learning; third, most users of online learning get frustrated multiple times by poor instructional design, lousy content and poor presentation skills.
But don’t we all need to embrace this technology and advance into the future? I’m certain we should, but we should first look at the principles behind online learning and create engaging, meaningful, solution-oriented curriculum that addresses the workforce needs and design for the delivery system.
I have people ask me all the time if I’m going to offer my HERS Rater course online. I will at some point, but I want it done right the first time. So while I was sitting at a Whataburger restaurant, eating breakfast with my 17 year old son one Saturday morning, it occurred to me that these folks who were asking for online training were not really asking for it. What they were really asking for is convenience, low course cost, the ability to train at their own pace, and no travel costs. I tend to not listen to what the customer is “asking for”, but instead listen to their verbalized requests to find out what they are really asking for. What is it they really need and want?”
Since I first wrote that note in September 2010, I’ve thought of ways to deliver what they are really asking for- and now I think I’ve found the solution. We are now delivering online job training using curriculum designed for the web, which provides a rich, learn at your own pace format.