Not the concept, but the word. We all use it. Hell, I was recently given the responsibility of choosing my own job title and I called myself an eLearning Developer! So what's in a word? And what's wrong with that word? It's the best way to describe the industry in which I work right? It's learning via an electronic device.
Well let's take a step back. Although I see myself primarily as an Instructional Designer, my current role requires me to sell our eLearning product internally - to internal customers within the business. (I should really call eLearning a solution rather than product, but you get where I'm going right?) Unless I can successfully sell this solution, I'm out of a job! These 'customers' include senior management, product managers, sales managers, team leaders etc. So I am frequently refining my elevator pitch to ensure that I can eloquently explain how we can create and deliver effective solutions through the use of eLearning. And in a sweeping act of unashamed stereotyping, people occupying the majority of these roles come from a generation who vividly remember disengaged staff (maybe even themselves) staring at PowerPoint that has been converted onto a snazzy CD-Rom. You know the drill people - read the slide, click the next button - maybe watch the odd video that's been thrown in for good measure. Then they reach the end of the course which culminates in the answering of some multiple choice questions with outrageously obvious incorrect answers. (That's if they were lucky enough to get that far - fingers crossed that the CD wasn't scratched so they had to eject and start all over again!)
We all know that eLearning has moved on since then, but these frightful experiences have clearly taken their toll... I am noticing more and more frequently that with the mere mention of the word eLearning, I am losing people before the elevator doors have shut. Maybe I wasn't as aware of this before as I am now?
But is our description of eLearning going to solve their problems? Of course we have come a long way from CD-Roms and those types of experiences seem a lifetime away now - but are these customers to know that eLearning is that much better now, or is the association with the word eLearning so strong that hearing the word sends a shiver down their spine? My elevator pitch is dead in the water if I lose them as soon as I mention eLearning.
But talk about interactive training, mobile learning, tutorial videos or scenario-based learning and I have a much sexier, more inviting solution and their attention may last at least until the 2nd floor.
Maybe getting rid of the word eLearning is a bit far-fetched.. it's is not going to happen any time soon. But it has definitely made me think more about how I phrase eLearning as a solution in front of my customers.
Do you have an elevator pitch? Which terminology gets you up as far as Floor 6? Any tips for me on how you sell eLearning to your customers?
About Ant Pugh
Ant Pugh is an Elearning Consultant who helps organisations deliver effective and engaging learning solutions - you can learn more at http://www.elearningarchitect.co.uk and follow him on Twitter: @antpugh