ASTD’s T&D for January includes E-Learning: What’s Old is New Again, by Allison Rossett and James Marshall. They wondered what e-learning looks like in the real world and surveyed nearly a thousand practitioners.
In her book on training needs analysis, Rossett talks about actuals and optimals–finding out how things really are, and determining what they could be. She and Marshall take a similar approach here. They summarize responses about how things are, e-learning-wise. And they speculate about how things could be.
I think the article’s worth reading in full, especially for people who don’t work in corporate or organizational settings (two-thirds of the respondents do). I agree that for many people, the workplace is changing, as is the definition of work. At the same time, most of my own clients have been and are large organizations with multiple locations, often with a significant effort to provide structured learning (a term I prefer to “formal”).
I was especially struck (not to say “depressed”) by the last response in the first of several charts in the article:
Our structured training uses realistic situations, encourages choice, supports learning from that choice — less than “some of the time?”
Sadly, I think that’s accurate, and a true indictment for the organizations in which this happens. Formal training departments may be complicit, but so too are organizational leaders. Often, in the aeries just below C-level executives, there’s a touching faith in magic beans–nice, clear solutions to nagging problems that don’t look like they’re the organization’s real business.