Most training subjects in the development sector (and similar sectors) don’t have right and wrong answers. E-learning packages tend to pretend they have the answers though. And this is one of the main reasons why learners disconnect.
The examples in many self-paced e-learning modules aren’t what trainees really face in their workplaces. Good e-learning designers try so hard to include examples from each target region or group, but it is so much more complicated than that. Self-paced individual e-learning is often shallow (how many more ‘introductions to…’ do we need?) because going deeper is hard, too hard. There are simply too many possible scenarios in real life.
The problem isn’t e-learning. The problem is ‘packaged’ e-learning.
If most of the actions of the practitioners in your field depend on context, the groups they are working with and the specific challenges they face, then this needs to be reflected in their training too.
This means their training should primarily promote constructive engagement and critical analysis by the participants. That’s what they need to be able to do in their jobs as well.
In such training, learning together is often a prime factor to achieving the learning outcomes. True collaborative learning isn’t happening in webinars nor in your average (often ‘add-on’) discussion forum.
In training we need a much stronger focus on doing rather than knowing. Knowing is only useful if it feeds the doing. That’s why our learning designs should always start with the activities first. And the learning activities should imitate what people do in the real world. Don’t make things up.
Similarly, discussions have little value if they don’t lead to something tangible. Design the problems. The action will follow. The discussions will have a purpose.
Add a great e-facilitator (not a tutor and certainly not an instructor) to the mix and watch your course ratings go through the roof!