Sep/15

8

Learning Technology or Training Technology

Classroom

Classroom

Learning Technology or Training Technology

Most learning management systems (LMS’s) are great at helping instructors replicate the worst practices of education electronically: lecture and multiple choice tests. When LMS’s go beyond this, there are still factors that cause us to think within a very short and narrow box called “learning equals content-based courses.” In other words, LMS’s support training (narrowly defined), not learning more broadly defined. Why?

  1. Focus on content. While the Experience API holds the promise of getting us out of the SCORM trap some day, the vast majority of courses contained within today’s LMS’s are SCORM 1.2 or SCORM 2004. These standards have learning professionals busy creating content objects, not learning objects.
  2. Focus on events. While the primary object creating by authoring tools is a SCO, the primary object maintained in the LMS is a course. Courses are almost always time-bound training events related to the mastery of content. However, most on-the-job proficiency is not created in an event, whether it’s a 30-minute eLearning module or a one-week face-to-face sales training.
  3. The sage on the stage. When you think about it, the courses in the LMS are all about the sage on the stage. The sage creates the eLearning modules. The sage teaches the classroom-based classes listed in the LMS. In web meetings, there is a presenter (sage) and audience.
  4. Assessing the unimportant. The bad news is that LMS’s make it easy to assess that which is pretty much trivial and unimportant – i.e. Level 2 evaluations using “objective tests,” where there’s a right and wrong answer. Critical thinking? Complex decision making? Ability to write effectively? Ignored.
  5. MIA: Informal learning. If you’re lucky, your LMS will have a rudimentary comment system or bolted on discussion forums. However, software to support informal learning that is integrated with other learning activities at the user experience and administration level is simply missing in action. That’s 75% of the learning that our technology doesn’t really address very well.
  6. MIA: Coaching and mentoring. I suspect that most learning professionals would agree that we are not done when the class ends; we also be in the business of supporting the reinforcement of training on the job. Most learning technology simply doesn’t do this. And that’s a shame.
  7. MIA: Knowledge management. Over the past several years, there have been many articles written on the convergence of learning and knowledge management (KM). I’m a great believer in this. It seems that if we are in the business of ensuring that people are ready to do their jobs, our learning systems should also be knowledge management systems.

I believe that LMS’s need to support the learning process, not simply eLearning and classes. Unfortunately, most LMS’s started life as content management systems. Content is in their bones and in their DNA. Later additions – such as those to support social learning – often feel bolted on and not an integral part of the system. As we start thinking about effective approaches to learning, we also need to start thinking about the functional requirements of learning technologies that can support them.

 

Excerpted from Speed to Proficiency: Creating a Sustainable Competitive Advantage. (c) Bill Bruck, Ph.D., 2015 (paperback and Kindle)

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