What if…..? (E-Learning)

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I’m a huge fan of history. Especially those “what if” scenarios that explore the other side of historical changes.  Most folks know the usual, “What if Germany had won WWII”, but lesser folks might ask what if “The colonies never broke away from England,” or what if “bazooka bubblegum created a taste profile that lasted more than thirty seconds.” 

In this post, let’s take a look at “what if” scenarios, some which are likely to happen, some of which could, and some of which won’t even though perhaps it would actually be better.

What IF e-learning platforms incorporate/use blockchain?

You may have heard the term “blockchain” in the news, especially if you follow cryptocurrency (example: bitcoin).  But, where you aware that some very large consumer goods companies are looking at/using blockchain?

The simple way to explain blockchain is as follows”

– It is a decentralized method, whereas instead of one point of entry which can be targeted for hacking (using a bank as an example), there isn’t a central point, rather whatever data is everywhere in the blockchain.   Now, that may sound worse, but it is actually better.   Because each block within the chain contains a “Each block typically contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp and transaction data” (Wikipedia)

On the learning system or any online learning platform, would security be even better using blockchain?  I’d say in some ways yes, but what will make it unsuccessful in our industry is the understanding of how it works and its benefits.  Tell someone in the financial services about your system using blockchain, and watch fear show up.  Yet, financial firms are exploring the use of blockchain for their own companies.

What if companies who do not want social or other NexGen functionality for security reasons, actually realized they themselves (the people in charge) are exposing their data every day on the net?

Whenever I hear a company say to folks, you cannot access the internet at work, or social media sites, I somewhat get it, but not for the reasons they pitch – regarding security. After all, if I am using my smartphone at work,  the “security” block doesn’t work (if I am not using WiFi).  

What really bothers me more so, is when certain learning system vendors tell me they do not offer social or NexGen functionality because their clients either do not want it or because of security concerns by the client.  Recently, I had someone tell me that the reason for not having certain functionality in their system, was because folks take home a company laptop or tablet, which blocks access to sites.

Here is why that argument and others like it are jokes, not funny ones, either

  • Data shows majority of people access a learning system out of the workplace.  If I have a company laptop or tablet, and I can’t access certain web sites,  but I have my own tablet or smartphone (highly likely you have both), that blocking goes bye-bye.

If I have also another laptop or desktop  I’ll access that way.   I know people who have company laptops and thus cannot access this or that at home, including the installation of browser software, yet all these folks have a mobile device, in which they access sites. 

  • Folks download a lot of “non-business” related stuff onto the work computers all the time.  I think you can guess what I am referring to with “non business”.  Shocking honestly, and yet companies are worried about folks using social media? And therefore, against social in their learning system?
  • How many of those folks in compliance and security at those companies that institute those requirements for their employees, access the net on their own mobile devices or home computers?  The moment anyone uses the net, data tracking occurs.  Why do you think you start seeing ads related to what you are searching for?  What Netflix?  They are mining data from your viewing habits.  Use LinkedIn?  Lots of data is being generated on the back-end.  

For those folks, who set these rules, they would never be able to go on the internet.

If you have been following the news of late, a firm harvested 50 million people’s data from Facebook, without their permission, to use in the Trump campaign. 

Oh by the way, every time you go to the store and use one of those loyality cards, you are giving the store, data they can use.  So much for security there.   The point to all of this, is that having a learning system that should be bland and without items they use daily and/or you yourself is hypocritical and a farce.

What if people built courses that were engaging and interactive?

Oh my God, what if indeed!  Here is what will happen if people used the power of their authoring tool (sans Studio, which is really a PPT converter).

  • Learners would come back and use the courses again, and again

No more, “people never come back into our course” gripe.  One reason is because the courses are like paint drying on the wall.  Dull.

  • By creating the courses with a table of contents, folks could bounce around the course increasing their retention and synthesis

Just think about the possibilities.  People learning what they want to learn/need to learn and are interested enough to repeat and gain additional insight into it.  Shocking idea, I know.   As I always say, do you read every article in a newspaper, on a web site, magazine, etc?  No.  You only read what is of interest to you.  And you may “save it” for future reading too.    Why then, do you think it would be different with a course?

  • Fun and interesting to learners

It is a big peeve of mine on how many people who are heading L&D, HR and Training, believe that anything engaging and interactive is against the seriousness of learning and training.  Folks of all ages want fun.  I play Boggle online, and constantly play against folks who are from college age to senior citizens.   The average age of a gamer is 35 years old (and I know plenty of GenXers who now in their 40’s to early 50’s who still play).  My mom, bless her heart is 78 and plays online mobile games.   How many of you (i.e HR, L&D and Training leaders) play online games or games for that matter (board included)?

Trust me, if the game was boring, you won’t even use it.  If the graphics looked like the 90’s, you would ignore it.  So, why force your own learners to suffer thru boring and dated looking courses?

  • You can’t make a video micro-course engaging?

Poppycock (bring back the Victorians).  Add an overlay of questions or hot spots.   Have stop points so folks can go to that point over and over again, creating a mini TOC. Focus on one point in a topic, with a scenario, and not your boss standing in front of a green screen.  Talking heads are not engaging, maybe from an ego standpoint it is, but not from learning.

  • Templates rule!

I am not a fan of templates.  I say this, because a lot of them are horrible and boring.  I’ve seen game templates that would have rocked during Commodore days or SNES, but not today.  Interactive in templates is questionable.  So why do folks love course templates?  Time savers and easy to use and implement.  

  • I am not an instructional designer

Big deal. I wasn’t either when I came into this industry.  Here is a secret – I learned how to do it.  You can too, without spending a fortune.  At a simple level, use ADDIE, it is a starting point, and even today many ID folks utilize it in some fashion. Buy a book (e-book works).  

I’d agree the net for learning ID is pretty horrific.  And I equally agree that many authoring tool vendors do not provide tutorials on how to build a course (not just how to use their software).  But there are vendors who do.  And usually they are online and free for anyone. 

What if a learning system was fully automated and I never had to do anything (on the admin side)?

You would get anxious.  I am a believer that by 2020, you will start seeing Smart learning systems that are nearly automated.  I say nearly, because you will always need a human on the back-end at some level. 

Look, a smart learning system would be able to do this and that, but still would need some rules setup by you.  Folks in general, prefer some level of control. How many of you use cruise control every day you are on the highway?  And if you do, do you keep it on in traffic?  The answer is no one.  

The self-driving cars imply the “no need to worry” because we can do everything, but would you want them to do that?  No offense, but I do not see a self-driving car driving at 80 miles an hour, during a stretch of road where it is only your car and landscape.  At that point, find a horse, it self-drives too.

What if learners had a 100% personalized experience beyond just widgets?

Systems out there today offer this.  eLogic was the first to enable each learner to have their own theme.  Docebo recently launched “pages” where each training manager can create their own look and feel for each learner.  

But what I have yet to see are the following (a smart learning system can change that)

  • Based on how you use the system throughout your learning and not just the recommended, etc. angle,  the system changes the dynamics and look for you.  Not only themes here, but widgets too, and each page’s look in the system – in terms of how the course catalog is seen – grid, hierarchy, only images, videos, etc?
  • The admin side can change too.  Not every admin thinks alike!  I rarely see “favorites” or “bookmarks” for administrators, whereas they just click and go to the places they use more than anything else.

While there are a few systems that offer a calendar multi-view i.e the learner can select from grid to hierarchy to standard, the majority of systems do not offer that.  But what if they did?

What if learning systems were all NexGen?

Then everyone should run out and buy a lottery ticket, because it will never happen.  Too many vendors think they know more, but focus too heavily on what their current clients think about this or that functionality. 

Listen yes, but look at the consumer world as a guide.  If your client base are traditional in general, the idea they would ask for personalized learning themes or on/off app with functionality beyond taking a course, etc., is like ZERO. 

I know this, because last week, I talked to a vendor, and asked them about on/off synch with their mobile app.  I was told they not only do not offer it, but it is not even on their roadmap for 2018, and maybe 2019.  Why?  Because of their clients never asking for it, potential customers too.

Well, no wonder your system’s UI/UX rocks for 2000.  I mean it screams Plateau and Knowledge Planet. Both of which, should remain buried.

If you are believe that ILT must stay at your company/business and that blended learning means only ILT and online (it doesn’t. It actually means paper, online, instructor), you are still in the days of CGA screens and computers.  

Personally, I loved my CGA computer with 512kbs dual floppy disks in 1989.  But, I wouldn’t want it today, unless Earl Weaver baseball game with it.  A great game.

Anyway, there are people who just won’t move away from ILT.  Heck, I know of folks who still use folders in their file cabinet to store training records.  You think these are the people I want to “consult with” to identify functionality in my system?

Egads.

Bottom Line

What if scenarios, offer an alternative. 

Sometimes the alternative is awful and downright scary. Other times, it offers exploration.

I mean there are those out there who wonder what if the UK voted against BREXIT?  Or what if Clinton beat Trump?  OR what if PowerPoint wasn’t being used as an authoring tool?  OR what if

Bazooka bubblegum

Flavor lasted a long time

Like a Wonka Everlasting gobstopper.

E-Learning 24/7

 

 

 

 

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