Just to make sure we’re all talking about the same thing, let’s start with the Wikipedia definition:
Envy (also called invidiousness) may be defined as an emotion that "occurs when a person lacks another's (perceived) superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it."What Is Elearning Envy?
What does this have to do with elearning? I’m thinking it’s like the time I went to an elearning demo put on by Big Name Training Company. Man, did they ever have great stuff. Their training simulations were so slick, so cool, so…what I wanted, nay, needed, to have. Immediately I wanted to rush back to my workbench and start chiseling, hammering, gouging and whatever else it took or cost to craft something like that. Wouldn’t it look nice on my resume. Wouldn’t it be so shiny and pretty. Everyone would love me. My life would be complete and I’d be lauded for time ever more.
Sound familiar, even a teensy weensy less-dramatic bit?
Basically, I sum up elearning envy as wanting the Bling for Bling’s sake. Who doesn’t want their elearning to be pretty and do cool things and make people stop and say Wow? Who doesn’t want to play with all the new technology and tools? But having a reason to get your elearning all gussied up is another matter. And then there’s also the whole worth thing. Sure there might be a reason to buy a fancy, new car – but is it worth it?
Stop the Elearning Envy Train
Consider what performance the Bling would effect. Is that performance worthwhile? Take a look at Thomas Gilbert’s notion of worth at Dave’s Whiteboard. No effect, no dice. No worth, no deal. Take a look at Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping to help hone in on what should be in the training.
Recognize what you have. Get creative with your tools. All you have is PowerPoint? Then get yourself a copy of Powerful PowerPoint for Educators. http://www.loyola.edu/edudept/PowerfulPowerPoint/ You can do quizzes, calculate results, branching, all sorts of things expensive tools do. No pretty graphics? Use the Microsoft Gallery, which is free as long as you own Office. Need other media, check the Creative Commons site for all sorts of great *free* media.
Take into account cognitive load. Do you really want to use video, animation, voiceover, avatars, podcasts, and flying monkeys? Instead of spending hundreds of hours building all of that, spend 3 hours reading up on some Ruth Clark articles. From the library or the Internet. For free. You might save yourself a lot of hassle.
Fall back on the real basics. Great analogies. Simple, but clear drawings. Stories that illustrate. Job aids that they’ll use. A place to take notes. The ARCS model, which focuses on attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction.
The lesson here is that Bling is not an indication of true value. All the Bling in the world won’t make your students learn. It won’t even make them give high marks on a smile sheet. Students want to know that their needs are met, that they are learning what they need to, and that they can use the skills/knowledge from the training. They’ll put up with crappy media. They’ll put up with shoddy materials. But they won’t put up with crappy results and content. Give them what matters.
For fun, tell me your elearning envy story. Or, share your tricks for keeping the right things in focus. I hope I'm not alone in this!