Myths and Legends – Learning Systems

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In the mid seventies, as a child, my folks went up to the area where the Lincoln County war was (i.e. Billy the Kid territory).  At a restaurant there, upon checking out, they had an enclosed area with artifacts.  One of them, was according to the restaurant, Geronimo’s finger.  Now, to me as a kid, it looked like a tootsie roll.  

They told me, it was his finger.  How they got it, never said, or at least I think I never asked.  Looking back, I still think it was a tootsie roll hardened from the 50’s.

I still believe that Butch Cassidy survived his South America episode, but not the Kid.

Myths of the old west here in the states, I think still intrigues people.  As does, the myths and legends of the learning system world.   Oh yes, there are myths out there.  And oh, yes, there are legends.

Come with me, my dear friends, on a journey into the myths and legends of the learning system space.

“Our system can tell you whether an employee will stay or not, based on the consumption of content”

This myth is already being pushed out by a few vendors, one of which, I have been told by a couple of customers by Cornerstone and Degreed.

I say it is a myth, not because they are pushing it, but that the claim is just not accurate.

This myth is based on what is a fact – that an employee is more likely to stay if they receive personal and professional development.  Thus, if I as the employee can pick what courses/content I want to take that is of interest to me, the likelihood I will stay increases.

But, that is in general.  Saying your system can accurately predict is another matter. And here is where I find fault.

Consider these facts

  • If I as the customer decide to only push out required content/courses to my learners, and they are required to take and complete this content, then the statement becomes a myth
  • If I say, you can select what you want, but it is required to be completed, then yes, I consume, but required changes the scope, and thus it is a myth
  • There are always additional variables to consider.  People are motivated by different things. While data (research) shows the personal and professional development, there are folks who leave because they do not get a raise or not paid enough, they hate their boss, or a treated like rubbish.  They are aware layoffs are coming, and so forth.  So, how can a system state that X is likely to stay, if the system does not know what motivates each employee?  Hello, myth.

Proof.  To truly state that system statement as an actual truth, the data must be over a period of years.  Two is nice, three is ideal.  You must have some type of metrics and go the route of a cluster sample of customers (selected by variables).  I’d like to see either ANOVA (statistical method), with multiple variables as part of that data set.  If you are using a survey, 93% is considered by academia as the minimum needed for a response and completed responses at that.  

Excluding the survey, the data set is noted above.  Show that to all of us, which backs up your statement that you are telling customers and potential customers.

Until then, you are establishing a myth. A fine one by the way, but still a myth.

“Our customers like that are system is not like a typical LMS”

Where did this come from?  Is it the same place where this old millionaire claims he put a fortune of gold and gems hidden on a Mountain? (Yes, he claims this).

Because when I hear this myth, I already know that the person pitching it, doesn’t know or understand the learning system market.

What is a typical LMS?  Please share with us.   Oh, you mean one that has robust functionality?  One that has NexGen feature sets including deep learning, content curation, ask an expert/coaching, webcam/screen recording, a complete app store, click and connect into a system, theme based by learner, click and drill analytics right from the screen of data,  mobile on/off synch,  LRS, data visualization (that is more than a histogram), free content that comes with the system, built-in knowledge reinforcement tool and the list goes on?  You mean that one?

This myth is a hot one in the space.  It never goes away, just as the myth of the old west that each town was filled with gunfights, let alone one on one gunfights in the street.  Sort of a High Noon experience.

“Enterprise system”

Ooh, this myth is like whiskey at the bar in the old west. Sounds delicious, tastes like turpentine.

The days of 10,000 plus for employees – the true statement of what is considered to be Enterprise is long gone. 

Nowadays it is what ever a vendor wants to state it as.

  • 300 plus
  • Up to X  (in other words, I could say I have 100 learners – Enterprise)
  • 1,000 plus
  • 2,500 plus
  • 5,000 plus

And the list goes on. Just like the guy playing the piano in the corner of the bar, who knows only two songs, and repeats them.

“Nomenclature of them”

Such a fine myth.  It really does with terminology within a system. 

Fallacies for Corporate learning system

  • Student
  • Lessons
  • Teacher
  • Flipped classroom
  • Assignments
  • Test

Unless you are in higher education or education, these are not the right terms.  Yes, you can argue that folks have to take a lesson, but drop that in the outhouse. And replace with the following

  • Learner
  • Content – if you have multiple pieces of content, folks do better with “video”, “PDF”,  “course” and so forth.  Within a course, you just list the chapters or sub-pages with a title. Assessment can be at the end and noted as such.  I’d go SBL myself (scenario based learning – if you are offering that)
  • Classroom or ILT (I’d go ILT if it is instructor led training), a webinar is a webinar, a seminar is ILT. 
  • No assignments.  What am I 15 years old and back in high school?  When I taught at a university, I never said to my students, “your assignment this week is”.. “I’d just say, do not forget about completing this or that or read this or that.”
  • Assessment, not test.  Again, am I back in high school or college?
  • Built-in authoring tool has fractions or math similar.  Nobody in corporate uses those things. 
  • Lastly, the term for the person on the back end of the system is called Administrator.  Administrator.  Not teacher.  Not Instructor.  Not Wyatt Earp.  You can have Wyatt as a person who gets restricted access, the same with an instructor and so forth, but the main person, the go to person is the administrator.

And for the record, I do see systems use the “educational terms” and then tell me, everyone does it.  No, totally not true.  Just as no one in the old west wore sweaters. 

“Compliance training is effective or similar”

Compliance training as being effective is a myth of massive proportions.  Before you spit out your tea and say, what is he saying, we must have compliance training, don’t worry.  Let’s not kid ourselves, compliance training isn’t about preventive, rather it is all about protective.

In today’s world and I’d say for long time in the past as well, sexual harassment is real and happens often.  Yet, strangely enough when it happens at your workplace and you have provided compliance e-learning for your employees on said topic, it failed to work, especially after you required all employees to take it.

The compliance e-learning in this case did nothing, it did not prevent, and why is that?

There are lots of reasons, but I’ll focus only on the e-learning angle here.

  • People take compliance courses usually at the last minute when there is a due date.  Even if they take them early, they rarely go back in.  So, if I went thru my sexual harassment online course in Feb., the likelihood I went back to it at some point in the year, is nearly zero.
  • Compliance courses are dull.   Yes you can find and even create a scenario based learning course (where you place the learner into a real life situation using a sim experience), but most of the courses I see are text, and lots of it.  Oh, and some pictures.   Who is going to return to that?
  • Compliance courses are protecting you from being sued more than, focusing on the person taking the course and learning.   
  • Time requirements per page of a compliance course, are failures.  The fact is most people surf the net or leave and come back when it is time to move onto the next page.
  • Assessment at end of the compliance course is often a joke.  Unless it is a one-time option, then what is the value of having it?  I normally see, unlimited attempts, where someone eventually will figure out the questions/answers.  Unlimited goes back to protective.

Now, you can change all of this, by creating a SBL course, make it engaging and use micro bytes to do so, or mini modules as I say.  And for the record, I’ve seen sims that on various compliance content that is so-so on the engaging part, but works. 

“ILT is better than e-learning”

MYTH.  A legendary myth, but a myth nevertheless.

An interactive, engaging course with mini modules, using a TOC (table of contents) and lots of scenarios will work.  Allowing folks to go where they want and focus on what they want and or need to learn really works.

Put it this way, when you read a newspaper, do you read the entire paper or do you read only the articles of interest?  If you are like most  folks, articles of interest is the route you go.

ILT on the other hand, is the instructor telling you want you need to know, even if you already know it, scenarios are usually sit around the table and discuss some topic and write up answers or thoughts on a pad on an easel or maybe if lucky, role playing, but not everyone is paying attention, and some folks are worried you will pick them, so watching it isn’t effective.

You can create a more effective and engaging course on any topic, that someone offers in ILT and it will be better.  I’m not referring to VR, AR, or MR here, I’m referring to an online course.

I recall seeing data years ago, that said the average retention rate for ILT is 8 to 10%.  That stinks. Just like many folks I surmise in the old west (I’m guessing here, but I did read recently, that it wasn’t until the early 1900’s that deodorant came to be and smell wasn’t an issue).  

The point though is that if I do not understand something or need a refresher, for ILT, I have to sign up and take another seminar or class and/or pay for it. 

With e-learning, that isn’t a factor to worry about. 

I will add that everyone these days is focused on repetition when it comes to e-learning courses.  But it isn’t repetition that should be the focus, rather it is synthesis.  This is where I learn whatever I need to learn, then are able to apply it and from there add on it as I move forward with other skills or information I am learning.

Bottom Line

Those are the myths of the day.  At least for right now. 

There are others out there, waiting to strike.

Maybe you heard a dozy just a short while ago.

Perhaps it was legendary.

So too is the old west.

As for Geronimo’s finger?

I still say it was a tootsie roll.

E-Learning 24/7




One comment

  1. Excellent read! And spot on……. Your about 10 for 10 in your blogs…..

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