You might be misguided if…

2012 was an “interesting” year (yes, with air quotes). In my 2nd year as a freelance instructional designer, I learned a lot about myself and my industry. While I see great promise in technology and, a good deal of momentum for change in how we foster and measure learning and performance in the workplace, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Between debunked learning theories that resurface with zombie-like persistence (hello learning styles!) and the tool-obsessed eLearning economy that insists on claiming that it can magically convert PowerPoint presos into “eLearning”, there’s a lot of misguided thinking out there.

For instance, you might be misguided if:

  • You think you can turn your SMEs into eLearning designers by sending them to Captivate/Lectora/Storyline training. It’s like sending someone to a Black & Decker workshop on how to use a miter saw, and expecting them to emerge with the skills of an architect.
  • Your solution for creating learner “engagement” is to add more things that “fly onto the screen”. Flash, bang, and sizzle are sexy, but more often then not, they’re used to not-so-cleverly mask a lack of well-written, purposeful content. Instead of wasting more time on sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads, provide high-quality, authentic, purposeful information, or even better, opportunities for people to define, create, and share THEIR own amazing content.
  • Your “performance” objective for a compliance course is that people click an Acknowledgment button. Okay, I’m just going to say it: sometimes, paper isn’t the enemy. Sometimes, paper can be used for good and computers for evil. So, let’s all do our co-workers a favor by not forgetting the ease of use of our ole’ pal paper – especially when it comes to certain check-the-box activities.
  • You’ve tried to win over a SME or manager by saying, “I’m no expert…”. STOP undermining your credibility! You can be heard and offer valuable insight and perspective as a learning professional. Not knowing everything your SMEs know isn’t anything to apologize for. In fact, that lack of knowledge puts you in a better position to design learning content, because you’re in a the same boat as the target audience. Do yourself and your org a favor and START owning and nurturing your expertise.
  • You’ve been reduced to being an eLearning/PowerPoint monkeyFeel like you’re on an eLearning treadmill – churning out one click & read after another with no hope of designing anything that actually engages an audience and fosters some learning? You’re not alone.Unfortunately, the reality may be that you end up  designing what the boss wants, instead of what’s needed. BUT if you’ve got a pretty good handle on how far you can safely push the envelope, here’s my two-cents: Gather some data and some supporting arguments to help you build a case for doing the right thing. Sometimes, what the boss wants is limited by their experience of what’s worked before. Let’s face it, we all like to repeat success and it’s the safest path, particularly in a time crunch. Rather than “selling” your boss on design ideas they may not fully understand or appreciate, consider all the factors and then seize upon small opportunities to help him or her focus on new ways to leverage some of your past successes in new ways. Remember: you can be an ally to yourself, your training audience and your boss – or you can choose to remain a ‘victim’. It really is up to you.

Of course these are just a few of the most memorably misguided moments I happened upon in 2012. What were yours? Drop me a line or leave me a comment.

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