During lunch yesterday, I had a chance to talk to a group from a health care system outside of Kansas City, MO. This was their first eLearning Guild event and they were pretty excited.
If you go back and read my early blog posts from 2006 / 2007 – I started this blog when I was in the health care industry. My lunch companions from Kansas City reminded me that there are still quite a few parallels between the health care audience of highly educated doctors and nurses and the higher ed audience of highly educated faculty and staff.
In both cases, it is often best to move slowly and stealthily.
We talked a lot about how our audiences have just in the past 3-5 years started accepting alternate ways of “training” outside of the expected classroom model. Now – they are finally asking questions about how they can make these “eLearning things” more interesting.
This is HUGE progress.
I have found over the last couple of years that if I talk to them about gamification, scenario-based learning etc…. eyes glaze over, they get a bit of the deer-in-headlights thing going on, and they ask to convert the PowerPoint with the next buttons. Just maybe change the graphics.
If I tell them – “Use your examples at the front and use them to illustrate your point vs. at the back after you gave them the info” – I get a lot more traction and much more interesting material.
The whole discussion as to whether “training” is necessary in the first place for a lot of what crosses my desk…um…. yeah. I could spend the rest of my career fighting (and frequently losing) that fight.
A while back, Clark Quinn reminded me of a classic Kathy Sierra post:
Incremental vs Revolutionary Improvements
Kathy’s post discusses this concept in the context of product development.
I have personally found incremental change can be incredibly effective and very lasting.
Dr. John Berardi, in the fitness and nutrition context, often talks about getting folks to break down a behavior change (like eating better) into a single step so small that the client is at least 90% confident they can do it.
If they find that they are failing – they break that step even SMALLER until they CAN do it. Hang out, master that, then take the next step.
As Kathy points out – Revolutionary change is an important tool in the toolkit.
Sometime, you just have to JFDI.
Wanna reduce the amount of classroom training you do? Get rid of the classrooms!
Wanna improve the acceptance of asynchronous eLearning? Make it the only option!
Yup – those techniques worked too. Like a charm. Helps when it is driven by upper management.
I’m not entirely certain how this works, but there are times when one MUST go the wrenching Revolutionary route. It seems to happen when the increments aren’t creating the change at the pace the environment demands anymore. Or when there is a plateau of some sort that can’t be gently nudged.
I see this dynamic at play both at the individual / personal level and at the organizational / cultural level.
Right now, I am in a position to continue playing in increments. “Safe” experiments in subscription-based learning (it looks like a “newsletter” but is subversively structured to be educational), performance-support-first design (something I’ve been doing for years myself, but am now starting to ask clients whether they really need “training” for the thing or just a job aid. I actually managed to get one client to reduce scope from a major interactive training initiative to a single page job aid. Yay me!), and scenario-based instruction.
One of this year’s projects, however, contains the possibility of revolution.
The art will be in choosing when to attack.
Here’s to hoping the timing is right.