Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lose the Wrath in Elearning

Good e-learning doesn’t just happen and great e-learning takes a lot of thought. But bad elearning, well, that’s easy. How do I count the ways in which elearning can veer off the Happy Road and do a spectacular gut-wrenching dive towards death? Using the Seven Deadly Sins of course---it’s only fitting. I’ll cover each of the seven sins separately, and I’ll begin with Wrath.

Wikipedia: also known as anger or "rage", may be described as inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. These feelings can manifest as vehement denial of the truth, both to others and in the form of self-denial, impatience with the procedure of law, and the desire to seek revenge outside of the workings of the justice system (such as engaging in vigilantism) and generally wishing to do evil or harm to others.
Applied to training, I interpret avoiding wrath to mean, “Don’t hate on the student.”

Fundamental to teaching adults (or andragogy) is the principle that adults have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Whether classroom or elearning or m or s or whatever type of learning, it helps to know that your students are intelligent, have relevant experience to share, and want to excel.

How can this be applied to elearning?
Let the student have as much control of the course as is possible. Let the student skip pages or questions,  provide multiple paths through the course, let the student move forward as well as backward, encourage the student to cheat during tests, and provide choices.
Make things difficult.
Do not design for the “lowest common denominator.” Design for experts and experts you shall have. (And what happens if you do the opposite? Design for dummies and….) If using branching scenarios, make the options tough and ambiguous. When writing, go ahead and use big words, heck, use big thoughts. Do whatever you can to challenge your learners. Don’t let them settle in to the course for a rest. Keep them active and thinking. Make them feel their synapses firing.
Don’t get up on your high horse.
Keep in mind that you’re one adult speaking to another adult. So, while I said to go ahead and use big words, that doesn’t mean to get all proper about it. Conversational is better. And, don’t be all “you should” and “I’m telling you.” Lead the way, but unless absolutely necessary, show the way instead of telling the way.

Well, that covers Wrath. Love thy student. Do you have other instances of how not to hate on the student? Add ‘em below. More deadly sins will be coming soon.


Rob Bartlett said...

Let them learn just what they'll use. Don't hate by giving them overstuffed and overfilled courses. The word that matters is the just, figure out what they need to be as expert as they need to be and just give them that.
Rob Bartlett

jadekaz said...

Ah, yes, I agree. Actually I have overstuffed courses planned for a future sin discussion. It's a killer.