More powerful tools does not mean more skillful craftsmen #eLearning #authoringtools

Litmos guest blogger Ant Pugh is back, this time with a passionate plea for higher quality eLearning design in the midst of a sea of rapid authoring tools.

Sat in my shorts, watching the drizzle batter the windows…reading an instructional design forum whilst waiting for my toast to pop. Yep, I’m really making the most of this day off.

The subject of an L&D manager’s understanding of the amount of work that goes into an eLearning module comes up. An interesting topic.. One that is causing hiccups-a-plenty within the industry, and I have no doubt will continue to cause problems as these awesome tools become more powerful and readily available. Although doesn’t every manager underestimate the amount of work required of one of their subordinates? Well yeah, I guess. It’s understandable though… historically training has been undertaken primarily through classroom-based training and trainers. 12 attendees, 1 trainer and a projector. But the introduction of powerful, rapid authoring tools has put eLearning development right in to the hands of training departments and has made eLearning a viable option for smaller companies who may not have previously had the budget for eLearning projects. It’s a killer idea – why run 10 training sessions when you can create an online module and not even leave the office?

Sold? Aces – let’s do it…

So who learns the software and then develops the eLearning? Well the L&D manager can’t do this – they are far too busy running the department. We can’t ask the graphics/marketing team – they don’t have the L&D understanding. And we can’t increase headcount by bringing in an instructional designer – what if this eLearning thing is just a passing fad? Outsourcing? We ain’t got the budget for that!!

So the responsibility inevitably falls at the feet of the (un)lucky trainer who volunteers/is volunteered. They are expected to learn the authoring software without a mentor and magically acquire the graphic design skills to develop the module. All this in addition to managing the learning management system, and probably doing some of their training quota too. A week goes by.. and we have no module.. Another week passes – nothing. Have they been on holiday? No?? But all they had to do was convert this PowerPoint presentation into an interactive module with that magic Capitulate software I hear you cry?!

All this points to is an increase in the amount of poorly executed eLearning that we see, and to what end? Training (whose requirement is to increase knowledge and change behaviour) fails. The finger is pointed at the L&D manager and training team, and we’re back to square one.

Shorts, toast and drizzle.

So please.. let’s remember – more powerful tools does not mean more skillful craftsmen. Amen.