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I'm a geek working as a distance learning specialist for a large corporation.

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Where are the humans?

To continue in the vein of dissatisfaction with training, let’s take a look at the experience this high school student in Singapore is having with e-Learning (found via Corporate eLearning Strategies and Development):

But what was most disappointing was that they expected us to learn fresh, new topics like Maxima and Minima on the dot, and the lessons weren’t even constructed by our teachers, but by this Dr. Brain series that was created by some polytechnic whose name I have completely forgotton.

I mean, COME ON! You’re expecting us to complete an entire assesment (or more) just by being educated by a talking flash movie?? What if we have a question to ask?

Now, there could be a whole host of reasons why this experience was difficult for this kid, but who can blame him for wanting to ask questions? It is frustrating to try to learn new concepts, skills, and tools with no interaction. To be effective, self-paced training has to be designed exceedingly well, and even then there still needs to be the option to follow-up with a subject matter expert, because it’s impossible to accurately predict everyone’s questions.

For all I know, this “e-learning day” experience had all sorts of support – chat rooms, email, discussion boards, phone mentoring, whatever. Maybe this guy just didn’t take advantage of it. Or maybe it wasn’t there, but the teachers figured they’d provide that support the next day when they returned to their classrooms. Whatever the case here, the reality in the corporate world is that frequently employees are sent to take online training with little to no human support from a subject matter expert. And that’s a shame. With the tools I mentioned above, there’s no reason to leave someone hanging and alone. We need to do a better job.

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