Why I love working with e-learning sceptics

Two weeks ago, I was contacted by someone on the L&D team of an NGO. She said the organisation is aiming to add an e-learning component to the current staff training programme to increase reach and reduce the costs of training people all over the world. She asked about our services and we had an initial Skype contact. I immediately felt her reluctance. It turns out it was all her manager’s idea.

In any other business, she might be considered a ‘difficult client’, but I don’t see it that way – quite the contrary. I really like to start with that challenge.

I fully empathise with people who are worried about introducing online learning into their programmes. They have been exposed to bad e-learning experiences and are protective of their target groups.

Why do I love working with e-learning sceptics?

These are often the people who take adult learning principles seriously and refuse to accept that a few screens of content combined with a few webinars will engage their learners.

They also question the impact of typical self-paced e-learning modules. Part of our role is demonstrating that there are different approaches that lead to much better learning experiences. And let’s not forget: if the knowledge can’t be packaged, then don’t package the training.

They are wary of technology moving centre stage while ‘learning’ becomes the by-product.

They hate to see the over-simplification of their complex subjects and miss the depth that true participatory approaches can achieve.

They are worried that online learning won’t allow them to fully support the learners while engaging in a meaningful learning experience.

Most of the e-learning sceptics I meet are excellent face-to-face facilitators. No, they are not protective of their jobs – they know there will always be a need for their expertise – but they just don’t want to see excellent training go down the drain. E-learning sceptics need to be assured that e-learning will not affect the quality of the training.

When I was thrown into the e-learning sector (because that’s in way how it happened), I really didn’t like what I saw. As a face-to-face facilitator with a strong interest in participatory approaches, e-learning left me completely uninspired. I thought there must be a way in which we can develop e-learning that gives a voice to the learners. Participatory workshops should be possible online too.

I had found my mission and co-founded an e-learning company around that concept. Ten years later, I’m obviously a fan. However, I still appreciate a sound level of clients’ scepticism as a starting point. This ensures our collaboration remains focused on continuously asking the hard questions and going the extra mile to support meaningful learning.

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