Ultimately all education and training is about knowledge transfer. Part of this is the movement of information from one party to another but knowledge is far more than information.
Knowledge is about curation, assimilation and application of information to enable appropriate action within a specific context.
The traditional art of knowledge transfer is teaching and the outcome of teaching is learning. In a school K – 12 context this is referred to as pedagogy and for an adult it is andragogy – the method and practice of teaching adult learners.
Online learning or eLearning has created great opportunities for scaling knowledge transfer and delivering just in time, targeted information to assist in situ application.
It is exciting times for educators as the digital revolution has enabled a whole new world of evidence based teaching methods and practices.
One example is that it overcomes the problem of timing. Nowadays we can train people at the moment they need the content, overcomming the perennial risk – “Will my student remember this at the coalface?”. In an extreme example, real time repairs to broken down machinery are now realistic without former training.
But does it introduce a new risk? We are all questioning whether eLearning is actually effective – the pedagogy and andragogy considerations. This concern should be taken seriously – after all, if training doesn’t train why do it? The answer lies in not changing the approach. I see far too often that organisations replace expert external trainers with internally produced eLearning. The trainers had been chosen for their expertise in androgogy and the eLearning was assembled by someone who is not primarily a trainer. It should surprise no-one that these eLearning initiatives fail.
It’s easy to see why it happens. Narrow minded assessments view eLearning as a a cost based initiative rather than a cost substitution. Some organisations invest far less in training after adopting eLearning; Out with the specialists and in with whoever in HR is lowest on the pecking order. They then seem surprised when they get a lower return. Others see it as a legitimate training option – one that can deliver better staff and better productivity, the results are undeniable
It’s not the online medium that’s the problem, it’s the attitude!
And no-one should expect staff to continue to tolerate it. The old, boring and disconnected eLearning that flooded the early internet is being replaced with evidence based approaches and the empathy that has always defined best practice teaching.
The internet has enabled an explosion of information – this information is now finding its way back in to the hands of the educators who are utilising technology to deliver best practice pedagogy / andragogy (old fashioned teaching) to create highly effective knowledge transfer.
Or put another way – who do you want your staff relying on? A professional with knowledge of your industry or your payroll officer?