I’m tired of hearing the excuses. I’m tired of hearing that because people do not have an instructional design background nor training background, it is acceptable to create linear courses online.

I’m tired of people generating all types of reasons for not building engaging e-learning content.  I’m tired of seeing PowerPoint with an audio or video clip spun as a sound WBT course.

It’s not.

A story

When I entered e-learning, I did not have an instructional design, e-learning developer nor instructional technology background. I did not come from a training background. I did not take courses in education nor graduate with a degree in education.

I had journalism degrees. I never thought about being a teacher an educator. If it was not for the recession in 1991 (when I came out of grad school), I would probably being working for a marketing firm in New York City.

Yet, it didn’t happen.

I taught at the high school level for five years, at an inner city then affluent school. I jumped to the university level to teach full time as a faculty member. I received an e-learning grant and was doing research on online learning, pricing and how colleges and universities could achieve success.

After a period of time, I decided to jump to the corporate level as a training manager. I had no training experience, no training background. Nothing. I believed that anything was possible – you just had to spend the time to learn it.

I knew effective learning, scenario based learning a result of teaching at the inner city level and having the kids inspired to learn in an engaging and interactive process.

I followed the same approach at the corporate level. I spent hours learning everything I could on instructional design.

Success followed.

Fast Forward

A couple of years, I needed extra staff to build WBT courses for our employees and customers.  I did not have the budget to hire the additional resources. I turned to my executive assistant, who knew nothing about training, instructional design and e-learning. 

At the age of 62 with a high school education, with limited technical skills, she would appear to be the last person you would think could create sound interactive online courses.

How did she achieve success?

She went online and read everything she could find about creating online courses. She wanted to learn. She downloaded free trials of rapid content authoring tools, to find the right one for her, that would achieve our objectives.

What’s the point?

She was like many of you out there today. Doing something completely different and then being asked to create online courses, to jump into e-learning.  Yet, still having to do the job you were hired to do, when you came to the business.

What does it prove?

You can achieve success without any formal training or design background. Statements as “I can’t do it”, “I don’t have time”, “I have no technical background”, “This isn’t my job”,  are excuses.

If you think about, how many of these statements apply to people who take online courses. I hear it all the time.

When people start taking the online courses, their whole attitude changes. They enjoy the ability to jump around, to not having to follow a linear path, to learn on their own time, when they want and as often as they want.

They all were use to the ILT approach. Some of them, had experienced awful online courses. Page turners, static, boring courses.

They assumed that WBT, was like ILT but just online. 

Why? Because in their past, someone had followed that mantra and create courses based on ILT principles.

The new learners thought all content was like that. They assumed that someone taking pages of documents and shoving them online or using pure PowerPoint with bullet points was online content.

It was far from it. It was ILT.

ILT – the evil empire

ILT serves some purposes. I’ll admit that. It can be effective if done right. However, how often have attended an instructor led training class that bored you to tears? How often have you spent your time, looking on your smartphone, texting folks, reading your email on your laptop and doing something else, rather than paying attention.

How often have you entered the classroom or seminar room and immediately bolted to the back of the room, even though there are plenty of seats in the front?

When you attend a seminar at a conference, how many of you try to find seats that are closest to the door?

If this is happening at a conference event, where you paid to attend why would you believe that taking the same ILT approach would be acceptable to create online training courses?

Why would you assume that shoving a PowerPoint online with an audio clip, a video clip, which you see often in ILT, especially at conference seminars, would be fine?

If you were bored and not paying attention at your seminar, why would you think that others taking the online course, wouldn’t feel the same way?

For many people, they do not think that way. They figure that following the ILT approach and shoving it online, under the guise of a WBT course is an effective way to learn.

They are forgetting the number one adult learning rule – WIFM. What is in it for me?

Adult learners seek this all the time in training.

Who is to blame?

I would love to say that no one is to blame, but that just isn’t true.

  • Books that state PowerPoint can be a successful online
  • Outdated books on WBT – from 1999-2006 that people read and assume this is effective online course building – while it provides some foundation, new approaches, stronger design techniques are showing greater effectiveness then what was available in the past
  • A few rapid content authoring tool vendors who pitch that taking a Microsoft Word document and changing it to flash is effective learning
  • Books, presentations, blogs that state follow the PPT mantra
  • Books, presentations – heck even webinars, blogs that push and talk about theory
  • Instructors whether via education or business who just take the easy way out and follow a linear methodology and who have never offered real world scenarios, role playing in their own classes, seminars or presentations
  • Antiquated classroom learning that starts at elementary school all the way through college
  • Synchronous based learning, which follows the ILT approach but adds discussion boards, so that makes it okay
  • Instructors who believe online learning is just like classroom learning, who just don’t get it
  • People who do not want to spend the time searching online to  learn how to create engaging and interactive WBT, who do not want to spend the time reading an ebook or going to library or asking folks via social media on how to do this or that

Bottom Line

We pitch to our attendees, our students, our learners the importance of knowledge. Understanding it, comprehending it, synthesizing it and taking it to the next level. We implore learning as an effective means to achieve success. We constantly remind folks on the advantages of acquiring new skills, new approaches and the importance of change.

We fail to do it ourselves. 

I’m tired of the excuses.

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